crunchy-top pear muffins

Hello everyone. It’s plainly obvious isn't it - that I’m seriously obsessed with citrus. Weka Weka does that to you. However the humble Aussie pear is another fruit I adore baking with. For example, a well caramelised Pear Tarte Tatin or an afternoon batch of warm Crunchy-top Pear Muffins. Just don’t make me choose! Which one would you go for? 

It’s hard enough deciding which juicy variety of pear to pick. Click here for help. I’ve also been seeing some pretty amazing Spiced Pear Cakes in cafe cabinets and pastry shop windows lately.  Are you a sucker too for those perfectly arranged shiny pear tops and poky out stems?  

In all honesty and simplicity, it’s a white shiny bowl filled with fresh pears that really makes me smile. And so much cheaper than buying a bunch of flowers each week. Fresh pears are such an artistic arrangement, just like my treasured Stephanie Lawson Pear watercolours. And when it’s time to use them up and I can’t admire them any longer, the classic “Pear Tarte Tatin” whispers to me ever so convincingly, “I’m the perfect way to treat your pears”.   Shannon Bennett of Bistro Vue Melbourne shared his perfect Pear Tarte Tatin in Gourmet Traveller Magazine a few years back. Pear, vanilla bean, butter, sugar, spice and all things nice. Highly recommended.

So the winner today is Crunchy Top Pear Muffins. Of course you can substitute the pears for apple, peach, berries or rhubarb. And the pecans for finely chopped walnuts, hazelnuts or macadamias.  Just follow your heart as always... and the season.

I’ve been experimenting with muffin tops for some time now, both in the kitchen and my wardrobe!  And what I’ve discovered about the 'edible' muffin top variety is most folk really prefer this topping on their muffins, rather than a rich cream cheese or butter icing. Muffins are often sweet enough as is.  The low-fat yoghurt and light flavoured oil is terrific instead of butter and these muffins are a much healthier alternative to say, my lime poppyseed yoghurt muffins.  I’ve adapted this recipe, just a smidge, from a lovely Bill Granger one. I like to add plenty of fruit and some vanilla extract too.

Crunchy-Top Pear Muffins

Ingredients

125 grams (1 cup) Plain Flour ❤  60 grams (½ cup) Wholemeal Plain Flour ❤ 3 teaspoons Baking Powder ❤ 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon ❤ 100 grams (1 cup) Rolled Oats ❤ 140 grams (¾ cup) Brown Sugar ❤  2 free range eggs ❤  250 ml (1 cup) Plain Low-Fat Yoghurt ❤ 125ml (½ cup) Grapeseed Oil ❤ 2 pears, firm but ripe peeled and diced ❤ 40 grams pecan nuts, finely chopped or other nut of your choice ❤ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ❤ abit of finely grated lemon zest if you can't resist

Method

Preheat oven to moderate 180°C (350°F). Line six 250ml (1cup) texas size muffin holes with paper cases or grease the muffin tin well with butter. 

Peel and dice 2 pears. Finely chop the nuts and place in a small bowl. Combine the nuts with ¼ cup of brown sugar to make the topping, ready for use later.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and cinnamon well by sifting them together twice. Add the oats and a ½ cup of brown sugar to the bowl and toss well, using your fingertips to combine. Make a well in the centre with your hand.

Whisk the yoghurt, eggs and oil in a separate bowl by hand. Add this into the well of dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon, only until just combined.  Never over-mix your muffin mixture as it can really toughen up. Fold through the diced pear and spoon mixture into prepared muffin cases.

Sprinkle on the nut crumble topping and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Next time I look forward to sharing some Snowy River stories from Country NSW. The snow is gently falling, the slopes of Thredbo are calling and we are finally getting away for a few days. Hooray! Until then, happy baking and as always, thanks so much for reading.