Damson, Almond and Cinnamon Muffins

Damsons are utterly exquisite, their plum flavour dark and concentrated, and because they are sharp and sour damson jam ends up being sharp too in spite of the sugar. Sharp jam – like marmalade made from bitter Seville oranges – is a rare delight in this over-sugary age we live in. The question is, where to find damsons? Not in a supermarket, I suspect. But do try to find some in a Farmers’ Market, or on the web or by mail-order. This lovely, very English ingredient will disappear if nobody asks for it any more. If you have a garden, why not plant a tree and help damsons in distress? My own recipes for damson jam, chutney and even ketchup - great with bangers - appear in the Cookery Course (the chutney at Christmas with cold cuts is unbelievably good). We have also discovered that English damsons with almonds and a hint of cinnamon beat blueberries in American muffins into a cocked hat. An absolute wow! If you can’t get damsons, small dark plums, stoned and cut into smallish chunks work just as well. We know because we tried that too.

Makes 6

Damson, Almond and Cinnamon Muffins
 5 oz (150 g) plain flour
 ½ level tablespoon baking powder
 ½ teaspoon salt
 1 medium egg
 1½ oz (40 g) caster sugar
 4 fl oz (110 ml) milk
 2 oz (50 g) butter, melted
 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
 4 oz (110 g) stoned damsons (weight after being stoned)
 1 oz (25 g) flaked almonds
For the topping:
 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
 1 oz (25 g) flaked almonds
 1 oz (25 g) demerara sugar
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400F, (200C).

You will also need a Deliaonline Silverwood muffin tray with 6 paper muffin cases, generously brushed with melted butter.


It’s a good idea to have all the ingredients weighed out and ready before you start – the damsons should be in halves and the demerara sugar mixed with ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Now sift the flour, baking powder, salt and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon into a large bowl, and in another bowl combine the egg, caster sugar, milk and melted butter.

Return the dry ingredients to the sieve and sift them straight into the egg mixture, then take a large spoon and fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones – do this as quickly as you can and don’t be tempted to beat or stir the mixture (don't be alarmed if it looks somewhat uneven – this is what will ensure the muffins stay light).

Next fold the damsons and 1 oz (25g) of flaked almonds into the mixture, again with a minimum of stirring, then divide the muffin mixture equally between the six muffin cups in the muffin tin. Scatter the remaining flaked almonds equally over the muffins and sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture over them. Bake on a high shelf for 30 minutes or until they’re well-risen and brown. Take them out of the oven, remove the muffins in their cases to a cooling tray, and eat them as fresh as possible.

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