Friday, July 1, 2011

Let's have a date with Pear and Date Muffins

There’s not much to say about this post except… I’m weak. I caved in. I really am a lost cause.

You see, I recently bought another two (2) new cookbooks. Well, there was the Small Adventures in Cooking one, and now, after a suitably solemn interval, I have Annabel Langbein’s The Free Range Cook.

There’s more guilt with this latest book because it’s big and heavy and full of colour photographs. Small Adventures in Cooking looks like a moderately serious novel or something, and doesn’t scream ‘Make something from me or you’ll feel guiiiilteeee...’ every time you glance at it. Hopefully this situation won’t be around much longer, because I now have a longed-for e-reader woohoo!, though the only books I’ve downloaded so far are a (free) copy of Pride and Prejudice and a history of the Churchills (Winston’s family). Of course, I haven’t read either book yet, but at least they’re not sitting on the dining table, mocking me with ‘Read me or you’ll feel stuuuuupid…’.

Pear and Date Muffins
Makes 12-15

175g pitted dates
300ml water
1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
60g butter, chopped
250g brown sugar
2 eggs
175g self-raising flour (or 175g plain flour plus 2 ½ tsp baking powder)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground ginger
2 pears, cored and diced

1. Preheat oven to 180C/360F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper cases.
2. Place the dates, water and baking soda in a large pot and boil for 5 minutes. The baking soda will puff up, hence the need for a large pot. Remove from the heat and mash with a potato masher to break up the dates to a mush.
3. Stir in the chopped butter and mix until the butter is melted. Mix in the sugar and eggs, then fold in the flour, vanilla and ginger. Note again the need for the large pot.
4. Pour the batter into the muffin pan then push down a couple of pear pieces into each muffin.
5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
6. These muffins can be served warm, or they can be reheated in the microwave for 20 seconds.
For an awesome accompaniment, try my favourite caramel sauce, here

Recipe adapted from The Free Range Cook by Annabel Langbein

Some of the ingredients, including flour, a lot of brown sugar, pears, eggs, dates, ground ginger, vanilla and butter.

A serious Tabitha cat was flocking around the kitchen, as usual, but decided that dates are not her thing.

The soaked/boiled dates are mashed to a brown mush before the other ingredients are tossed in.

Pieces of pear are studded into the batter before baking. The muffins are a lovely tanned colour.

For these muffins (for presentation), a slice of pear was put in the bottom of the muffin case before pouring in the batter. Remove the paper case from the muffin before serving on a plate.

The muffins are quite sweet and spicy, so serving them with refreshing pear slices is ideal.

Alternatively, if you're not scared of a little sweetness, top with some caramel sauce for some more scrumptiousness.
For another Annabel Langbein recipe, try this


  1. I love seeing pictures of Tabitha sneaking around the kitchen...she is just too cute!

  2. My cookbooks absolutely yell at me all the time. I've had to split them up between my kitchen and my bedroom because I just can't tell with all the screaming. And now this recipe is getting in on it too. Thankfully I have some dates that need to be used. They look great!

  3. Oh, these look sooo yummy. Big date fan here. Massive date fan in fact. I love how you've turned them from simple muffins into really elegant treats with the pears and caramel sauce.

  4. Fantastic presentation for your muffins! I have a sweet treat linky party on my blog every weekend (starting Friday evening) and I'd love it if you'd come by and link your muffins up.

  5. hehe typical Tabitha always around the food! Gotta love our cats- they're persistent but yes, if they don't like it, they'll give it a whiff and be on their way.

    I'm a sucker for anything that resembles pudding! These look teeeeaaasty!

  6. ohh i just had this feeling today when i discovered cookbooks that i haven't the chance to cook from...guilt! did u get a kindle or something? hmm should get one as well...

    been having dates as a snack a lot these sure they'd taste great in a muffin with pears! your 'puddings' look fantastic as a post dinner dessert!

  7. I love that there's no top or bottom :) you can serve either way! Looks perfect

  8. I know exactly what you mean, I recently bought 2 new cookbooks.....I had better hop to it and make something from them. Nah, on second thoughts I think I will make those muffins!:D

  9. Seems like a good cookbook. And yes I cave too. Bought 3

  10. Lots of brown sugar? I'm sold! Love the presentation idea of putting a slice of pear at the bottom -- it takes a muffin to a whole new dessert level. All the best getting through your new books!

  11. This is an impressive pear and date dessert.

  12. fantastic! we added walnuts and it gave it the extra kick needed!