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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Baking for Beginners: Goats' Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato & Basil Muffins

I absolutely love muffins, not simply because you can have so many sweet or savoury variations of them but because they are pretty hard to mess up (even for someone who is somewhat "baking challenged" like me). Where my cakes have sunk in the middle, my meringues flopped, my sponges been brick like, the humble muffin has never let me down.  The muffin is my BFF, my Baking Friend Forever for this very reason.

I have tried many incarnations of savoury muffin  but this one is definitely my favourite.  I adore mediterranean flavours and the sweet saltiness of the goats' cheese works so well with basil and sun dried tomato (also my favourite pizza toppings!).  The kitchen will smell incredible as they are baking and even better: they are at their best when eaten warm so you can dig in, although you should at least try and share them!

You'll need: (makes 10 big muffins)
  • 400g plain white flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • small pinch sea salt
  • few grinds of black pepper
  • 250ml milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 170g goats' cheese
  • 130g sun dried tomatoes
  • 25g bunch basil
Make it!
  1. Preheat your oven to 200C.  You can buy muffin cases but I tend to cut squares of baking parchment and pop these into the muffin tray instead, they don't just look pretty it means you can put even more muffin mix in!
  2. To make the basic muffin mix sieve together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.  In a separate bowl beat the milk and eggs.  Roughly chop your cheese, tomatoes and basil, set some aside to decorate the tops with and mix the rest into the flour mix.
  3. Once the dry ingredients are nicely mixed add your liquid and fold gently until just mixed. The trick to a good muffin is not to overwork the mixture when adding the liquid to the dry hence adding your flavours before the milk and eggs.  If you overwork it you will get a heavy muffin, it will still taste great but the texture won't be fluffy and we like a fluffy muffin (actually I just like saying "fluffy muffin").
  4. Spoon the mixture into your cases it will rise but you can be pretty generous with each case piling right up to the top pretty much. Scatter the tops with the cheese, basil and tomato that were set aside and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until puffed up and golden brown. 


I usually stick to the rule of 300g flavour ingredients to the basic muffin mix (not including herbs) so instead of goats' cheese and sun dried tomato you could use stilton and walnut, smoked salmon, smoked cheese whatever takes your fancy.  I once tried smoked mackerel and horseradish which I loved but my fella still refers to as "that horrible fish thing you once made"!


  1. What size square of baking parchment do you use?

    1. Hi Angela, for a large muffin tin I cut squares about 15cm x 15cm, it all depends on your tin, try a square and if you think you want a bigger muffin just cut a bigger square, I only use the squares as I can make bigger muffins that way!

  2. What would you serve this with? Soup or some kind of platter?

    1. I'm not sure I'd serve them with anything, Anon. They look great just on their own for lunch.

    2. Hi Anon, I tend to just eat them as they are, they are great for taking along on a picnic too as they are pretty hardy!

  3. Do they HAVE to contain cheese? As a non-cheese eater I would like to give savoury muffins a go too. :-)

    1. Not at all, I'm just an absolute cheese hound! You could substitute cheese for some caramelised onions or fennel that you have fried off in butter? Bacon works really well or smoked salmon or even sausage! Hmm, actually I may have to try a chorizo one!

  4. Oh Hazel. I actually love you.

    I am going to make these to impress my beloved beau's parents for when I visit them this weekend ....and then, *obviously*, I am going to EAT THEM ALL MYSELF as soon as they come out of the oven. So I'll probably have to just buy them a bottle of wine or something instead.

    But still, THANK YOU. Seriously.

    1. Aww thanks Laura! This is precisely how the giant muffin parchment squares came about, this way the muffins are so big that its *almost* impossible to scoff them all in one go, I've come very close though :)
      Have a great weekend! x

  5. I made some of these a month or so ago. Very yum, very yum indeed.

  6. 1 1/2 TABLESPOONS of baking powder really??? That can't be right surely?

    1. Sorry yes thats definitely meant to be TEASPOONS!

  7. Hi Hazel! I just made these tasty muffins, such a quick and easy recipe. I added some Parmesan and cheddar as I didn't have quite enough goats cheese, it worked well and gave a nice crunchy texture on top.
    Thanks for this basic recipe, will use it again for some new combinations


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