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An everyday-kind of happiness – Spinach and cheddar muffins

spinach and cheddar muffin

There are things you can never ignore.

At times, you wish you’d forgotten; crab hunting, kissing in the wind, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, drinking beer by the bottle, killing flies, licking icy popsicles.

Other times, you’re simply happy to remember; stepping into Pierre Hermé’s kitchen, signing my apprenticeship contract, taking a plane to a new life, biting into a perfectly chewy spinach and cheddar muffin.

spinach and cheddar muffins

It was a Saturday or Sunday – the day does not matter – of an early autumn morning.

I had just arrived to London.

The air was crisp and the sky just turning blue after a night made of blankets and raindrops hitting the windows.


Somehow, those pretty rustic muffins felt fitting. Right that second, I could smell vanilla frosting and feel the warmth from a just-opened oven door. And by all means, I could hear words from happy people.

I remember how the first bite burnt my tongue. I remember the heat of pepper, the flavour of onion, spinach, cheddar and perhaps even Portobello mushrooms. And the crumb.

muffin bite

And then, in between creating desserts and reading books, I forgot about this moment. You know, that everyday-kind of happiness. But as autumn sneaked on us – in a rather unexpected manner – the frosty mornings and dark evenings made our house feel like home.

A home with soft lights, throws on the sofa, a whistling kettle, and muffins in the oven.

muffin batter

Spinach and cheddar muffins
Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery.

I could express my love for these muffins through an extended description of their qualities. The bold flavours, the perfect chewy crumb.

But the fact that they are equally delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner – preferably with a side of piping hot soup, makes them my favourite in the world.

Spinach and cheddar muffins

makes 12

30g butter
one small onion, finely sliced
one fat clove of garlic
one chili pepper, finely chopped
350g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
a good grind of black pepper
200g cheddar, grated
250g milk
one egg
130g spinach

Preheat the oven to 170°C. In a pan, melt the butter over medium heat and cook the sliced onion until soft. At the end, grate the garlic and throw the chili into the pan and give a good stir to combine the flavours.
In a bowl stir the flour, baking powder, pepper and cheddar. In another bowl, whisk the milk and egg together, then pour onto the flour mixture using a wooden spoon to fold.
The batter will be quite thick, and I must admit I like to use my hands to incorporate the cooled onions and spinach.
Divide into twelve muffin-cases and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the muffins from the tin and allow to cool on a rack.

Time to forgive the winter – Apple, cinnamon and walnut strudel


I believe in traditions. Mostly, when the air starts to get crisp and the sunsets early.

We have breakfast for dinner. We take pictures out of the doors. We continue knitting a scarf, which was first started a couple of years ago. We roast pumpkins. We have hot chocolate on the patio, cosily wrapped in a blanket. We read written words.

And we make apple strudel.

I believe in traditions that will make our hearts warmer when the temperatures go down.
They surround us with comfort and love.

And this is why I love autumn and winter so much. However, it’s been slightly harder for me this year to find my way through golden leaves and acorns on the pavement.

park pentax

But as a reminder of why things have to be as such, Anna-Sarah came over and we made a delicious apple, cinnamon and walnut strudel.

Just like we did the year before.

strudel large

And quite instantly, the whole process of peeling apples, sprinkling them over the stretched dough followed by generous handfuls of cinnamon and walnuts tamed my fear of cold nights.

strudel step by step

This time, the cake that so gloriously calls for frosty winds and an amber-brown cup of tea was ready just before the sun went down. And made the perfect end to an otherwise delicious dinner.

tree pola

A couple of days later, I travelled from one home to another. Landing in London was tougher than I expected. If autumn was just on its way back in France, here things were somewhat different.

And by different, I really mean one thing: rain.

puddle pentax

So I decided to make it happen. Armed with a thick wool-scarf and some mitten, I made a pact with myself.

A pact that smelled like grass after a misty day.
A pact that smelled like a piping-hot latte by the Serpentine.

book writing

Apple, cinnamon and walnut strudel
Adapted from Claire Clark’s Indulge.

I remember the first time we made this recipe. A perfect day for baking, with rain, wind and even a power-cut.
A year later, it has become our love letter to autumn.

And honestly, who could blame us? Warm and deeply-flavoured, this cake makes for the most comforting thing to eat, let alone to make.
The process involves a lot of dough-stretching, which should not scare you as Claire’s dough is a delight to work with. We always do this in a four-hand style, but I’m pretty confident you could pull this off with just a pair.

That night, we served it with a slightly salty caramel sauce. This one. And it worked perfectly as the filling is not too sweet .

Apple, cinnamon and walnut strudel

serves ten

for the dough
300g white flour (preferably strong)
one tsp salt
125g water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
one egg yolk
100g butter, melted to brush the dough

In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine all the ingredients and knead for eight minutes. Dust your work plan with a little flour and transfer the dough on it. Kneading until it’s no longer sticky. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, you can prepare the filling.

for the filling
100g breadcrumbs
100g butter
1kg apples
150g caster sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
a handful of walnuts

Start by frying the breadcrumbs in a skillet with the butter until light brown, then set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the thinly sliced apples along with the caster sugar and cinnamon.

for the montage
Preheat the oven to 220°C
Cover a table with a cotton cloth, and dust the surface with flour. Place the dough in the centre and roll into a 30cm-wide square. Now is the fun part. Using the palms of your hands, stretch the dough from underneath it until it’s paper-thin. Simply work from the centre to the edges, and don’t worry if you don’t manage to get the edge thin enough as you can just trim them later.
Gently brush using the melted butter; then sprinkle the fried breadcrumbs on one half of the dough. Now, spread the apple mixture and sprinkle with walnuts. Fold the uncovered dough over the apples, then roll the whole thing into a long, as compact as you can.
Transfer the roll to a baking sheet lined with paper and brush with the remaining melted butter. Bake for 30 minutes, or until olden brown.