With one week left of school before the holidays I wanted to finish the term lunch boxes with a flourish and a gift of oranges became the catalyst to make Flourless orange and almond muffins. When you become known as a preserver, all kinds of excess produce find their way into your kitchen. I was arranging some jars on a bench outside our shop when Nundle local Sue Warden walked past and asked, "Have you been making pickles again?". "No, marmalade," I replied. "Would you like some grapefruit?," Sue offered. "Yes, please." Sure enough the next day Sue delivered a bag of grapefruit and oranges to the shop. I gave her a jar of marmalade in thanks.
I was inspired by a The Sydney Morning Herald Good Living recipe that I've cooked before for a writing retreat co-hosted years ago with our neighbour Nicola Worley. It's also an opportunity to use our oversupply of eggs, the recipe calling for nine eggs, and a gift of vanilla bean paste at a recipe writing workshop with Sophie Hansen and Anneka Manning for My Open Kitchen. As I boil the oranges, Gryff protests, "No not orange muffins. I've had them before and I don't like them." I am already committed and stay on task, hoping I can win him around.
The flourless orange muffins are a handy gluten free recipe, containing the dry ingredients of almond meal and desiccated coconut. I make the mistake of dropping double the quantity of batter into each muffin hole (the recipe calls for a 24 hole muffin pan, while I used a 12 hole muffin pan). The end result were 16 generous sized muffins, rising beautifully above the baking paper muffin pan linings. With Gryff and Duncan out for the afternoon, I ask Cormac if he'd like an orange muffin, warm out of the oven, served with cream. He spooned the muffin away and asked for a second, "They're good".
After dinner I encourage Gryff to overcome his initial prejudice and try the muffins. He is pleasantly surprised and the muffin disappears. It turns out he was thinking of a different orange and chocolate recipe. He's clearly not a fan of jaffa flavour.
Flourless orange and almond muffins
2 medium sized oranges
3 tsp baking powder
375g castor sugar
10g vanilla bean paste
300g almond meal
150g desiccated coconut
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Candied orange zest
100g caster sugar
zest of three oranges
Preheat oven to 190C. Grease a 24-hole muffin pan and line with baking paper. I roughly tore baking paper into squares and pressed it into the muffin tin holes. You could also use large patty pans if you have them.
Rinse oranges under hot water, then place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes. Drain and cool. Cut oranges roughly and remove seeds. Use a food processor to pulp oranges and baking powder. In another bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla bean paste until pale and fluffy. Fold in almond meal, coconut, cinnamon and orange pulp. Divide mixture into muffin pan holes, bake for 25-30 minutes until golden, and allow to cool in the tin.
To make the candied orange zest, combine sugar and water in a saucepan and simmer without boiling until sugar dissolves. Add orange zest and simmer without stirring for five minutes. Remove zest from syrup with tongs and spread on a wire rack to cool. Once muffins have cooled, remove from the tin to garnish with candied zest and a drizzle of syrup. Pack cooled muffins into lunch boxes, or for something a little more fancy, top with labneh, violets, and zest.
Hints and tips
1. If you have a smaller muffin tin, make larger muffins, or make two batches.
2. I am a convert to grinding my own almond meal using a food processor.