Thursday 10 October 2013

Butterless Mulberry and Hibiscus Muffins Recipe

I made these whilst I was in South Africa in Springtime. Mulberries are an invasive species there, but they thrive in the climate. The only problem is picking the berries before the birds get to them. Typically you only get partially-ripe fruit, but these are ideal for making muffins.

Hibiscus flowers are edible (if you want to learn more about edible flowers and how to cook with them, why not visit the Celtnet Guide to Edible Flowers). They are grown ornamentally all over South Africa, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal and give dramatic floral displays. However, in South Africa (unlike West Africa) neither the flowers nor the young leaves are eaten. I have had both in West Africa, but here I had a chance to use fresh flowers for my muffins.

Where I was staying also had a lemon tree and the fruit were just becoming ripe. These lemons had far thicker skins and they were sweeter than any lemon I have had before (and might have been a cross between a lemon and a citron — regardless, the zest was fantastic for cooking). White maize meal is a South African staple (known as mealie meal, locally) so I had to include that.

They have a thick, creamy, kind of buttermilk in South Africa that is ideal for cooking with (substitute any thick plain yoghurt). So with all these ingredients, I had to put them together as a muffin (for more muffins, see this Muffin Recipes page).

The result was the following recipe, which is probably more of an African fusion recipe that a traditional South African dish.

Butterless Mulberry and Hibiscus Muffins

Serves: 6
three cornmeal and flour muffins incorporating hibiscus flowers and mulberries made without butter presented on a plate


140g (1 cup, heaped) plain flour
60g (1/2 cup) mealie meal (white maize flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
180g (1 cup, scant), caster sugar
1 tbsp sunflower oil
finely-grated zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg
60ml (4 tbsp) thick buttermilk or yoghurt
120ml (1/2 cup) milk
100g (1 cup) mulberries, stems removed and halved (or substitute any fresh fruit or berries — quartered slightly under-ripe raspberries would work well)
6 fresh hibiscus flowers, chopped (hibiscus flowers lend a red colour and a tartness, but you could use any edible flower you like)
6 tbsp currants or raisins


Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, then set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, lemon zest and egg until smooth and thick, then stir-in the buttermilk (or yoghurt) and the milk. Now gently fold in the dry ingredients until almost combined before adding the mulberries, chopped hibiscus flowers and currants or raisins. Continue mixing until just combined then spoon the mixture into greased muffin tins, filling each cup no more than 2/3 full.

Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 180ºC (350ºF, Gas Mark 5) and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the muffins are well risen and golden on top and a skewer inserted into the centre of each muffin emerges cleanly.

Allow the muffins to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. These are excellent served for breakfast with coffee.

The recipe above is enough for 6 large muffins.

This recipe is one of those that will be making its way into the new edition of my Cupcake and Muffin baking book, details below:

UPDATE! My new recipes book eBook: Cupcakes, Muffins, Fairy Cakes and More — Baking Secrets has just been published in an edition for Amazon Kindle!

This recipe and over 360 other recipes for cupcakes, muffins and other small cakes can be found in this eBook.

The chapters in the book cover: Cupcakes (including: Vanilla and White Cupcakes; Chocolate and Dark Cupcakes); Microwave Cupcakes; Muffins (including: Refrigerator Muffins); Fairy Cakes and Butterfly Cakes; International Cupcakes; Cupcakes for Special Occasions; Icings and Frostings; Flour and Cake Mixes; Other Small Cakes; Historic Muffins and Cupcakes.

Not only do you get all the recipes, but there are over 50 illustrations throughout the book. You also get a history of cupcakes and muffins, showing how they evolved from British muffins and crumpets to become an American phenomenon.

Every classic and traditional cupcake and muffin style is dealt with in the book and you get over 60 recipes for different types of icings and frostings. The ebook is everything you need to successfully bake cupcakes and muffins. You also get a chapter covering different muffin and cupcake styles from across the globe. Get you copy today and help this blog and the Celtnet Recipes website keep going.

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