If I asked you to think of the best thing that happened in your life this last week, what would it be?
Anyone who read my most recent post will know that we celebrated our eight year anniversary this weekend. Smiles filled our flat, glasses were raised and some seriously delicious celebratory food was consumed. It was a wonderful weekend, a truly special occasion and probably what I would highlight as my most amazing thing if asked the question above.
Except that if I thought carefully, looked closely at that celebration and wondered why it was even happening, I’d realize that it was as much the accumulation of a thousand little moments as a special event in itself. Celebrating an anniversary is an incredible thing, but only comes as the result of a year (or eight) of words, thoughts and gestures, of shared experience, love and laughter, each one almost insignificant on its own but each a piece building into a much bigger picture.
The posts that get the most comments on this blog tend to be impressive recipes – think four-tiered cakes layered with chocolate and caramel or flaky croissants that took hours to perfect. But the ones that get the most traffic can be a little more surprising – homemade garlic bread baguettes, homemade digestive biscuits, a simple loaf – reinforcing this idea that grand gestures are great, but it’s the little, simpler things that keep us ticking over, that make us happiest: our (in this instance, literal) bread and butter.
Which brings me to this recipe for seeded spinach muffins. It’s simple, it isn’t cake (despite the deceptive title of muffin, the ‘English’ version being a little more austere) and it certainly isn’t a showstopper, but it’s special in that basic, everyday way: a quietly held hand or a look of understanding for the food world, made with wholemeal flour, iron-rich spinach and vitamin and protein-packed seeds.
We ate these muffins on Saturday morning, mine topped with avocado and accompanied by berries and juice, Carnivorous Fiancé’s hidden under a stack of bacon and eggs. It wasn’t meant to be a celebratory meal or one of those memorable ‘moments’, except that somehow it was.
Life is made of these moments, whether eating in a Michelin starred restaurant or breaking bread at the breakfast table. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and appreciate each one, remembering not only amazing events, but the little steps and simple things that brought us there.
Seeded Spinach Breakfast Muffins (adapted from these Kale, Chilli & Buckwheat Breakfast Muffins)
(makes about 12)
165g spinach, chopped
20g butter, melted
400g strong wholemeal bread flour
50g strong white bread flour
10g dried yeast
1 – 2 tbsp each pumpkin, poppy & sesame seeds
Pinch sea salt
Cornmeal or semolina for dusting
In a blender, whizz together the milk, water, spinach and melted butter. Place in a saucepan over a low heat and gently warm until tepid.
Weigh the flours into a mixing bowl and add the yeast, seeds and salt. Add the tepid liquid mix and work together into a wet, sticky dough before kneading on a work surface until smooth and silky, about 10 minutes. Once the dough is soft, smooth and elastic, put it into a clean bowl, cover and leave to rise for an hour.
Warm a heavy based saucepan over a low heat. Dust your work surface with the cornmeal or semolina then tip out your dough and gently stretch it out (don’t roll) until it has a uniform thickness of about 2cm. Using a 7.5cm cutter, carefully cut discs from the dough then place them in the in the saucepan to dry fry, making sure they don’t touch each other.
The muffins will need about five minutes on one side before flipping and frying for a further four minutes on the other side. Do check occasionally to make sure they aren’t burning.
When your muffins are toasty and puffed up, remove from the pan, split open and enjoy.