Monday, November 2, 2009

Nigella Lawson's Pear & Ginger Muffins--Made a Bit Healthier

This week's I Heart Cooking Clubs theme is "Autumn Harvest"--recipes inspired by what is fresh for the fall season. Craving something baked, I selected Nigella's Pear and Ginger Muffins from Nigella Express, (pgs 96-97). Pears are a fruit that immediately makes me think of a crisp fall day and ginger is such a warming spice, they seemed like the perfect fall treat. Of course I wouldn't be me if I didn't tinker with the recipe to make it a bit healthier. My changes, (using a combo of spelt and white wheat flour, reducing the amount of sugar, replacing the sour cream with yogurt and the oil with applesauce), are listed in red below.

Nigella says: "These are particularly good: nothing fancy (I hate a breakfast muffin that thinks it’s a cake), but the pear keeps the texture luscious and the ginger permeates everything, including your kitchen, with its husky heat. This makes for the kind of Saturday breakfast I can happily settle into. And I’m pretty keen on a quick snack later on in the day of one of these now-cooled muffins with some sharp, hard cheese, a Davidstow Cheddar maybe or Caerphilly, or a crumbly, pungent blue.

You can mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and the wet ones in a jug, cover both with clingfilm, and leave the former in a cool spot in the kitchen and the latter in the fridge. Then all you have to do is peel and chop the pear and lazily fork everything together in the morning. I dare say you will not get punished from on high if you don’t bother to peel the pear, either. I do, simply because I love the way the juicy fruit merges with the crumb when there are no barriers to its oozing.

Pear and Ginger Muffins
Nigella Express, Nigella Lawson
(Makes 12 Muffins)

1¾ cups flour (used 1 cup white wheat and 3/4 cup spelt flour)
¾ cup granulated sugar (cut down to 1/3 cup)
½ cup + 6 tsp packed light brown sugar (replaced 6 Tbsp with 3 tsp raw sugar/spice mix)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
2/3 cup sour cream (replaced with non-fat Greek yogurt)
½ cup vegetable oil (replaced with 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce)
1 Tbs honey
2 large eggs
1½ cups peeled and chopped pears, about ¼-inch dice

Preheat oven to 400°F 375°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper muffin cups

Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, granulated sugar, the ½ cup of brown sugar, baking powder, and ground ginger. In a large measuring cup, whisk the sour cream, oil, honey, and eggs together and then fold this into the dry ingredients. Mix in diced pear and then divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle each one with ½ tsp brown sugar and then bake for 20 minutes. (I replaced the 1/2 tsp regular brown sugar with a 1/4 tsp mix of raw sugar, cinnamon and allspice). Remove to a cooling rack. Best eaten still a little warm.

Notes/Results: YUM! These are wonderful little muffins full of pear flavor and just a light touch of ginger. They turned out really moist and plenty sweet, even removing a lot of the sugar. In fact, I might take out a bit more sugar and add some candied ginger when I make these again. (Yes, they are a make-again recipe). I baked my muffins at 375 degrees F. as I find 400 to be a bit too hot in my oven and they took about 22 minutes. Replacing the brown sugar topping the muffins with a lesser amount of a mix of raw sugar, cinnamon and allspice worked well as it gives the tops a bit of color and a pretty sparkle and the raw sugar gives it a nice crunch. Nigella is right, they are perfect as a snack with some sharp cheddar cheese--once again YUM!

You can check out what the other IHCC participants made and how they liked them by going to the website here. Come join us! We will be cooking the recipes of Nigella for the next several months.


  1. Wonderful! I remember reading this recipe and thinking I will have to try it soon. I love that your reduced sugar version still baked up perfectly.

  2. Deb... Yum, for sure! Ginger has that tangy twist and using it in a muffin is brilliant. I like the sharp cheddar on the side, too.

  3. This is a wonderful muffin! I like your healthy adaptation.

  4. This looks just plain delicious. Fabulous pictures as always. Also a big thanks for including me in Souper Sunday. You know me and soups!

  5. Sounds absolutely 'em with the cheese, especially :D "I hate a breakfast muffin that thinks its a cake"...LMAO!!!! Delish :D

  6. The pear ginger combination sounds so good right about now.

    Of course, ginger is one of my favorite spices - next to cinnamon.

  7. You did a great job making these healthier! They look moist and delicious. I have been eyeing this recipe for awhile now. I'm glad to hear that it's a great recipe.

  8. Pear and ginger is a delightful combo. Your muffins look yummy.

  9. These muffins sound so good, I'm putting them immediately into my "must try" folder.

  10. Awesome job healthifying! They really do look incredibly moist. I am impressed! I usually keep just a tbsp or two or oil/butter for posterity but it's good to know that these worked without it.

    Candied ginger in these would be delicious. I love that stuff.

  11. They sound perfect as you made them, though I do love candied ginger. I wouldn't have thought of eating them with cheese, but what doesn't go better with cheese. Hmmm...wonder if a few slices of bacon would go???

  12. drooling, stomach growling....where are pears when i need them? I definitely need to make these

  13. The pear and ginger combo guarantees a wonderful bite. I love the reduced sugar version you've created. Nively done.

  14. I love the combo of pear and ginger!

  15. Waw!!! these muffins look great!!

    A healthier adaptation too!

  16. Hi Deb, I just joined IHCC. I love Nigella's recipes and I'm glad that we have a few more months to try more of her recipes! :-)

    Your muffins sound marvelous. I'm marking this one (your version) so I can make them in the near future. I think this is something my son will love for a quick brekkie or afternoon snack. Thanks for sharing!!



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