That’s right – these are wee angel food cakes, studded with dried fruit and baked up tall in muffin form. Why didn’t I think of that? Light and crunchy, they’re perfect for spring. And with 9 egg whites in the batter, they make perfect use of eggs at Easter time.
These muffins have been a long-time favourite at the famous ACE Bakery café in Toronto. (Where the French embassy reportedly gets their daily bread.) Although they’re known for their rustic loaves, the cafe also offers made-to-order sandwiches, homemade soups, salads, freshly baked muffins and more. It’s a sure bet they’d have something up their sleeves for Easter.
“Easter baking is traditionally associated with different types of breads, desserts or pastries,” says Marcus Mariathas, ACE Bakery’s master baker. “Families like to bake sweeter and denser treats for this occasion like muffins, cakes, or biscuits.”
Since brunch is typical on Easter weekend, muffins fit the bill – and are easier to make than hot crossed buns or paska, the traditional braided Easter bread. They’re perfect whether your breakfast or brunch is casual or elaborate, and individual servings are great for kids – try tucking these beauties into their Easter baskets.
When testing this recipe, we found three things that make a great difference to their ultimate texture: cake or pastry flour is best; the egg whites shouldn’t be too liquid; and keeping an eye on them to make sure they are not too dark or too pale is key. If you don’t have fine or superfine white sugar, grind some regular granulated sugar in the food processor for a minute or so.
1¼ cups (300 mL) cake or pastry flour
1 tsp. (5 mL) kosher salt
3½ oz. (100 g) dried apricots, about 11
9 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) water
2½ tsp. (12.5 mL) cream of tartar
1 tsp. (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
¾ cup + 2 Tbsp. (210 mL) fine white sugar
Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C).
Sift the flour and stir in the salt.
Finely chop the apricots, dusting with a touch of the flour mixture as you go to keep them from sticking together and forming large clumps, or use a pair of clean, sharp scissors to cut the fruit into small pieces.
Whip the egg whites and water together in a standing mixer on high speed until just foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue whipping at high speed until the egg whites form very stiff peaks.
Change the mixing speed to medium and add the vanilla. Gradually add all the sugar while still whipping.
Fold in the sifted flour in 4 separate additions.
Gently fold in the apricots.
Spoon the batter into a paper-cup-lined large muffin pan, mounding the batter about ½ to ¾ inches (1.2 to 1.9 cm) over the top of each muffin cup. The top should be light and fluffy and irregular in appearance. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes. Rotate the muffin tray and bake 12 minutes more.
Remove the muffins from the pan and transfer to a rack until cool. Makes about 12 large muffins.
©This recipe is from the More from ACE Bakery Cookbook by Linda Haynes.