This recipe was originally called “Wild Oats Vege Muffins” after the cafe Wild Oats in Carterton in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand. The recipe was published in a newspaper a couple of years ago. I cut it out and kept it as it looked like a recipe that would make muffins or gems similar to the Spinach and Cream Cheese Gems sold in Heaven’s Bakery in Napier. Mum and I love these gems and they are very popular in the Bakery – so popular that Mum and I count ourselves as lucky when we can find them in the cafe food cabinet. This recipe is the closest we can get to the gems in Heaven’s Bakery and we have modified this recipe several times until we are now happy with it.
I like the cream cheese encased in the middle of the muffin, especially when the muffins are warm. These muffins keep well and they are nice warm or cold. Any remainder can be frozen. They are great to take to work frozen, and by lunchtime they are thawed, and can be heated if needed in the microwave for about 20 seconds so the cream cheese in the middle is gooey.
The following recipe is the modified version (and the notes below) that Mum and I have arrived at after experimentation.
SPINACH AND CREAM CHEESE GEMS
(Based on Wild Oats Cafe’s Vege Muffins, and modified, so it is as close as we can get to Heaven’s Bakery Spinach and Cream Cheese Gems)
This makes 8 gem sized (oblong mini loaf shape) muffins.
340g plain flour
15g (3 tsp) baking powder
225g grated cheese (½ mild and ½ tasty cheese)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
80g-100g of spinach or silverbeet, finely chopped. Cooked, squeeze out excess water.
½ a medium red onion, finely chopped (optional – if not using onion, add more spring onions)
1 ½ spring onions, finely chopped
190ml of cream and milk (95ml milk, 95ml cream)
125g cream cheese
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius and grease a gem (or muffin) tin.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper together into a large bowl. Stir through the grated cheese, spinach and onions.
Mix the eggs, cream and milk together in another bowl, then add to the dry mixture. Fold together until just combined (over mixing will make the mixture tough). Half-fill each tin, top with a couple of teaspoons of cream cheese, then cover with more mixture, so the cream cheese is enclosed in the middle. Bake for 20 minutes, until risen and golden.
A few notes on the recipe:
-The onion needs to be chopped finely. Large chunks of onion will not cook properly and they break the mixture apart. The onion can go into the mixture raw, or can be cooked slightly in a pan.
-Sometimes we leave the onion out of the recipe and add more spring onions.
-We find that using ½ mild and ½ tasty cheese gives a nice flavour. Sometimes we only use just over 200g of cheese and the recipe still turns out fine.
-We use silverbeet that Mum has picked from her garden, boiled and then frozen. We thaw the silverbeet and squeeze out any excess water. Last time we made this recipe we had 100g of silverbeet, and I think this was just the right amount.
-To make preparation faster, keep grated cheese in the freezer.
-A sprinkle of parmesan cheese can be added to the top of the muffins.
-For our secret ingredient…we always add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the mixture.