For me, it's "beetroot" and not "beets", ever since my six years living in London. And by "beetroot" I mean, you tumble it off the tip of your tongue -- like "beach-root", which I think sounds more tucked-in and settled, and not abrupt like "beet salad" or "beet muffins" which sound kinda thuggy.
Not to say their ruby juice doesn't ooze bloody murder. It's so violently red it screams to be shown off, especially when mixed with yogurt for a salad or blended into delicious, airy and tender muffins.
I came up with these beetroot & pistachio muffins last week due to some circumstances:
1. I had been experimenting with sweet potato and wholegrain muffins for our breakfast start-up, and I was looking for the next vegetably ingredient to muffin up.
2. Chef Paul had been experimenting with fruit and vegetable juices, under orders by ZLC, Joyseed's CEO; and stuff with beetroot in it always, no matter what, looked and tasted good, like the beetroot + red cabbage + grape juice.
3. Christmas was one week away and I felt like getting my bake on in festive colours.
So I took a step into the unknown, substituting only the mashed sweet potatoes (from an old, and since modified, recipe).
I mixed up the batter,
closed the oven door latch,
And they rose! Relief. Always a reassuring sight. They nearly doubled in size and were light and tender within. I added carrots for a vitamin boost and some dried cranberries to lift the beetroot's mild, earthy flavour. I almost sprinkled it with walnuts, but realized it had to be pistachios because, uh, Christmas! (It does go well together, though, regardless of colour).
I sent a photo of this to Nick, my super duper baker friend in London who took me in and let me work for Nick's Fine Foods for 2 weird and wonderful years. He's known for his quirky but somehow still classic cakes, many of which are packed with fruit and vegetable combinations: the lemon-rosemary-almond-and-olive-oil cake, the apple-parnsip cake and the simple but unbeatably moist carrot cake are just some of his creations which have inspired me as much as they have earned him a cult following.
Here's the recipe, which is also posted on Food52. I hope you don't relegate these to Christmas baking, though, because they really are quite healthy and would make an perfect breakfast. Best part is, they are really, really easy to make, especially if you have a blender.
Earthy Beetroot-Pistachio Muffins
Makes 12 small muffins
- 130 grams all-purpose flour
- 110 grams whole-wheat flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 300 grams beetroot, steamed or boiled and sliced into medium cubes
- 2 large eggs
- 60 grams light brown sugar
- 115 grams sunflower oil
- 120 grams whole milk or soy milk
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 70 grams dried cranberries
- 60 grams carrots, coarsely grated
- 60 grams shelled raw pistachios, roughly chopped (reserve a few whole pistachios)
- In a large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour and baking powder. Stir with a whisk to combine.
- In a blender, tip in the beetroot cubes, eggs, sugar, oil, milk and salt. Blend on high speed until the mixture is completely emulsified, about 20 seconds.
- Add the liquid mixture to the flour and fold through with a rubber spatula just until evenly combined, then add the cranberries and grated carrots. Fold the batter until all ingredients are combined and evenly distributed.
- Scoop the batter into muffin trays either lined with paper or greased, or directly into silicone trays. If you want larger muffins, divide the batter between 6 to 8 muffin cups and leave the rest empty. It's much easier, and you'll get more uniformly sized muffins, if you use a mechanical ice cream scoop (the kind that sweeps the batter off the scoop with a squeeze of the hand or push of a thumb).
- Sprinkle a few whole pistachios over the tops of each muffin, then sprinkle over the roughly chopped pistachios over the tops of each muffin to finish. Bake at 177*C (350*F) for 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean.
Now go show 'em off.