Something happened to almost all my cake recipes after I had children: they were turned into muffin recipes. I remember spending my Sundays as a kid in my grandmother kitchen, helping prepare our family meals; one of my very first tasks was baking and I had it under control. I always appreciated the precision necessary to achieve a great fluffy cake, the responsibility of having to measure ingredients exactly the way Nonna had them marked on her recipe notebook… funny enough this is the math work I am doing these days with my youngest daughter; what better way to practice fractions than get in the kitchen and start measuring cups of sugar, flour and milk? However, in all my years spent in Lola’s kitchen, I have never baked a single muffins, all our batter was always poured in a rectangular or circular pan, and the cake was sliced into when it came the time to eat it.
Then I met Debi, moved to L.A. and started reproducing. It did not take long to understand the “power of muffins”: it’s a small cake and it’s all mine, from the first bite to its last. It’s a very democratic way of serving sweets, it helps making sure that all guests enjoy the same amount of deliciousness and in the economy of a household muffins last longer than a cake you slice into. Last but not least, and that’s a concept that only sinks in as your kids start growing, muffins are great to exercise portion control… and they are easier to hide!
This recipe has always been one of our family’s favorite and I could not be happier to share it with you: light, not too sweet and wonderfully textured because of the dried figs. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do at home and at our shop.
Makes: 12 / Prep Time: 15 min / Cook Time: 20 – 25 min
- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 cup mascarpone
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg, separated
- 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk (You can make your own! Add 1 tablespoon of either vinegar or lemon juice for every cup of low-fat milk. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.)
- 1/3 cup EVOO
- 1 1/4 cups chopped dried figs
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tbs honey
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 1/4 tsp vanilla, divided
- Raw sugar for topping
1Preheat oven to 375º. Line a 12 muffin pan with paper liners, or spray with baking spray.
2In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3In a small bowl, combine mascarpone, honey, lemon zest, 1 egg yolk and 1/4 tsp of vanilla.
4In a mixer bowl with whisk attachment, beat 2 eggs and 1 egg white. Add brown sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla and beat for a couple of minutes. Gradually add the buttermilk, then the olive oil and mix until smooth.
5Switch to the flat mixer attachment, and on slow speed, gradually add the flour mixture. Mix only until just combined.
6Remove bowl from mixer and gently fold in the mascarpone and figs.
7Divide batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with the raw sugar.
8Bake for about 20-22 minutes, rotating the pan after 15 minutes. They are done when the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan before removing to a wire rack.