I wanted to use up some feta and milk and found this interesting looking recipe for a savory muffin on 101cookbooks.com. It seemed a nice recipe for the cool fall (almost Winter) weather.
I made a few alternations. I only needed about 1/2 Tbs. of butter to grease my muffin tins. I followed the suggestion in the headnotes and used half white flour and half whole-wheat flour. I didn’t have any baby spinach so I used a few cubes (about 2 Tbs.) of chopped, frozen spinach. I didn’t have parsley or cilantro, so I used sage instead. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup / 100g of cubed feta. I crumbled mine rather than cubing it, but 100g was way more than 1/2 cup. I wouldn’t think that crumbled feta would have a substantially different volume than cubed feta, so I’m not sure what went wrong. I decided to go with the weight measurement, so added quite a bit more than 1/2 cup of feta. I don’t like the dried-out texture of browned feta, so I mixed all the butternut squash cubes and feta into the batter. I assumed fine-grained sea salt was the same as fine table salt, but in retrospect I think that was assumption was a mistake. The muffins turned out quite salty. Next time I’d cut the salt to 1/2 tsp, especially given all the salt in the feta and the four teaspoons of baking powder.
Other than the salt issue, the muffins turned out well. They had a nice texture and good flavor. The sage complemented the squash and feta quite nicely. I barely noticed the sunflower seeds. I certainly couldn’t taste them, but they added a bit of texture perhaps. I couldn’t taste the mustard either. The spinach and sage added some pretty green flecks.
I didn’t fill my muffin tins all that evenly. So some of the muffins ended up quite small and others quite large. The large ones were prettier, because unlike the small ones they had a bit of a “muffin top”. So I think this recipe could be increased a bit (maybe 20%?), without requiring more muffin tins. I think next time I make this I will try to increase the amount of squash a little. There really isn’t much squash in this recipe at all. Two cups of raw squash yields only about 1 cup of roasted squash. So that’s only 1.5 Tbs. of squash per muffin! Next time I’ll start with 3 cups of squash to get two Tbs. of squash per muffin. That should also help fill the muffin tins a bit more. I’ll also add a bit more spinach, maybe four Tbs. instead of two.
When reheated briefly in the microwave, these muffins made a nice warm, savory breakfast or mid-day snack. The muffins lasted the whole work week without any noticeable change in either flavor or texture.
At first Derek said the muffins were “very strange.” But then he ate them happily all week.
Update April 2012: I tried making these muffins again, but started with 1 pound of diced butternut squash (which baked down to about 8 ounces). I used two tablespoons of olive oil to roast it and it still seemed like too much. I used parsley this time (not sage). I increased most of the ingredient amounts by 20%. I used one cup of spelt flour and 1.2 cups of all-purpose flour. I ran out of milk and subbed in buttermilk, but the batter ended up too dry and I had to add a lot more than I expected. I used about 65g of fresh spinach. Since I used more of all the ingredients I had extra batter and I had to fill the muffin tins quite high–above the top of the tins even. I was worried about them being too full, but the muffins came out tall and happy. I took the muffins out after about 16 minutes since they were tall and looked set and well-browned. I let them cool for a few minutes in the tin but when I pulled them out of the tin they were soft on the bottom and soggy. I put them back in the oven (directly on a rack) and baked them a bit more until they were dry and browned all over. I used only 1/2 tsp. of table salt, and it was okay, but I think slightly more would have been good. Next time I’ll try 3/4 tsp. I found the chunks of butternut squash odd. They were so sweet, and they didn’t meld so well with the other flavors I think. Perhaps the sweet squash was complemented more by sage than parsley, which I couldn’t taste at all. Maybe next time I’ll cut the squash smaller so the pieces after roasting are very petite. I did like the slight tanginess the buttermilk gave the muffins.