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How a fail-proof strawberry muffin recipe saved my pride

In a year of uncertainties, Shivesh Bhatia's book with simple recipes of cakes, cookies and muffins brought joy and learning

End the year on a sweet note with strawberry muffins. (Photo: Jahnabee Borah)

I failed. Even the ants wouldn’t touch it. The extra large chocolate bundt cake remained undercooked, despite overshooting baking time. All of four eggs, 450 gms flour and 250 gms butter had to be binned. The trick to vanquish utter despair is to try again. So, I turned to the basics of baking with a book named Desserts for Every Mood: 100 Feel-Good Recipes.

The book, by baker and blogger Shivesh Bhatia, was released by Harper Collins this month. In the year of peak baking, I scrolled through Bhatia’s blog for recipes of apple and lemon cake. So, it only seemed fitting that his book, would somehow, through its pages of cakes, cookies and muffins would flip the feeling of disappointment into joy.

The front cover of the book 'Desserts for Every Mood: 100 Feel-Good Recipes' by Shivesh Bhatia published by Harper Collins Publishers India.
The front cover of the book 'Desserts for Every Mood: 100 Feel-Good Recipes' by Shivesh Bhatia published by Harper Collins Publishers India.

I picked a recipe for strawberry muffins which seemed apt for the season. Just as the bundt cake, it was a first for me. But, thankfully, it needed fewer ingredients in less quantities and no butter. The recipe calls for caster sugar, but I had none, and substituted it with powdered refined sugar. While it baked for 30 mins in the oven, I stressed about filing tax returns. But all worries disappeared when the muffins rose to double their size like plump popcorns, flecked with the reds of strawberries. Here’s the recipe adapted from Bhatia’s book:

Strawberry muffins

Makes 6

Ingredients

1 and a half cups refined flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

One-fourth cup vegetable oil (olive oil)

Half cup caster sugar (powdered refined sugar)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

Half cup milk

Half cup diced fresh strawberries

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Line a muffin tray with paper liners.

In a bowl, combine the flour and baking powder, and set aside. Remember to run this mixture through a sieve.

In another bowl, beat the oil and sugar until the mixture is pale. Add the vanilla extract and the egg and beat well. Mix in the milk.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and the lumps disappear.

Do not overmix. Gently mix in the strawberries, reserving some for the top.

Transfer the muffin batter into the paper liners, filling to the top of the moulds. Top with the remaining fresh strawberries.

Bake for 25–30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the muffins comes out clean.

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