Little bakes such as muffins, cupcakes and friands are very popular sweet treats —especially for celebrating Mother’s Day. Over the years the difference between cupcakes and muffins has almost become non-existent. Muffins have become sweeter, more’s the pity. 

The first muffin I ever tried was my grandmother’s bran creation. It was heavy, stodgy and stuck in my throat. It almost put me off muffins for life. However, I have developed a really moist version, which I find very moreish. I usually prefer savoury muffins, especially with my morning coffee but Not Nana’s Bran Muffins (see recipe) come a close second.

Cupcakes are traditionally very sweet and the method of preparation is different to that of muffins. With cupcakes, butter and sugar are normally creamed first then the flavourings, eggs, liquid and flour are added. With muffins, the dry ingredients are combined separately from the wet ingredients then both are combined until just moistened. 

Friands are small oval cakes prepared with ground almonds, butter, icing sugar and egg whites. The latter are for binding the mixture, not aerating it as such. The friand recipe evolved from the French ‘financier’, although this little oval cake includes flour. New Zealand friands are generally gluten-free but people allergic to wheat should check on the ingredients. Friands freeze particularly well. 


Wafer flowers are available from the cake decorating area of your supermarket. 

125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Chocolate Icing:100g unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
2 cups icing sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 10 to 12-hole cupcake pan with paper cases.

Beat the butter and sugar together for 2 minutes — preferably using an electric mixer. Add the milk, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well.

Sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add to the butter combo and mix until just combined.

Spoon into the cupcake cases. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

To prepare the icing, beat the butter and cocoa powder in a deep bowl, until smooth. Sift in the icing sugar, then add the milk and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Add a little more milk, if too thick. Pipe or spread over the cold cupcakes.

Great garnished with wafer flowers or chocolate hail. Makes 10-12.


1 cup icing sugar, sifted
2/3 cup ground almonds,
1/3 cup gluten-free self-raising flour 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
125g butter, melted
4 egg whites
12 frozen boysenberries
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly butter a 6-hole friand pan. Chill.
Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the melted butter and stir, until combined.  
Whisk the egg whites with a fork until lightly combined. Fold into the butter mixture until well mixed. Pour the mixture into thefriendholes until 2/3 full. Place two boysenberries on the top of eachfriand.
Bake for about 20 minutes until firm to the touch. Run a knife around the edge and tip out while still hot. Makes 6.


Light, moist and moreish. Make small or large muffins — your choice.

Raisin pulp: 1 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup water
Wet mix: 2 cups wheat bran
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup water  
1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sunflower oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Dry mix: 3/4 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon each: baking powder, baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins

Place the raisins and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the water has evaporated. Purée in a blender until smooth. Cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 6-10-hole muffin pan with paper cases.

Spread the wheat bran in a roasting pan. Lightly toast in the oven for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally so it cooks evenly. Cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine the toasted bran, buttermilk and water. Mix in the cold raisin pulp, orange rind and brown sugar. Stir in the oil and eggs.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl then stir into the wet ingredients, until just combined Add the raisins. 

Spoon into the muffin holes. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes depending on size, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Makes 6 large or 10 smaller muffins.


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