(First of the two part series)
If the west has this famous sweet-tart blueberry muffins, why don’t we came up with the same muffins filled with sweet-tart Pinoy fruits in season? This is the reason why I thought of something so homegrown, something so unique and new. My adventurous mind came up with this wild idea: why not the lowly IBA (or Kamias in tagalog) for my very first baked muffins!
After office, I bought few ingredients, which are not available in my pantry. On my way home, I passed by our neighbor’s kamias tree whose branches are jutting down the road (you can see this tree growing anywhere!). There were decaying fruits on the ground and I believe no one has ever paid attention to this fruit tree. On the branches were clusters of shiny green fruits; the tree has been bearing fruits profusely. In Cebuano cooking, Iba is used commonly in soups and stews as souring agent. This time, we will use this fruit for baking!
Muffins can be prepared in no time, and can be baked within 20-25 minutes. However, there is only one thing we should remember when making muffins: do not over mix the batter or the resulting muffins will be too hard and crumbly.
For Candied Iba:
Half kilo of Iba
1 and ½ cups white sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon powder
For the muffins:
2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup white sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup fresh milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium size fresh eggs
1 stick butter or ½ of the size of a regular block of unsalted butter
few drops of olive oil for greasing
Prepare the Iba fruits: Trim both ends of the fruit and slice it halves lengthwise. Boil water and sugar. Add the sliced kamias. Simmer until liquid is thick and caramelized. Add the cinnamon powder. The resulting color will be brownish amber, cook until the consistency of jam. With the use of slotted spoons, remove and drain the cooked kamias. Set aside the jam, it will thicken when cooled. Preheat oven to 400F. When fully drained, carefully arrange the candied kamias in the cookie sheet and bake for few minutes (3-4 minutes) until the sugar caramelized. Please ensure not to over bake as the sugar easily gets burned. Set aside and cool.
Melt the butter in the microwave oven for about a minute until thoroughly melted (or you can melt butter in a small pan over a low heat). Set aside to cool.
Prepare the Dry Ingredients: in a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt (you can also add sugar in the dry ingredients).
Prepare the Wet Ingredients: in a separate bowl beat the eggs and then add the milk and vanilla (you may want to add sugar in this group). Stir until all wet ingredients are combined. Now pour in batches the melted butter over the wet ingredients (make sure the butter has totally cooled down or it will scald the egg in the mixture), mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
Using olive oil or melted butter, lightly grease the muffin pan.
Now here’s the fun part and we must move quickly, this is one of the trick to make your muffin soft and moist: Add the liquid ingredients over the dry one and mix in no more than few seconds, stir the batter until all the dry ingredients are just moist. Even if the batter is lumpy, that is okey, as long as you do not over mix.
Carefully spoon the batter in the muffin pan until two-thirds full. Put a layer of candied kamias and then spoon again some batter until the molds are filled to the brim. I want it full because it is lovely to see a muffin that expands out of the molds. At the top, put some candied kamias and press a bit to be covered by batter. Now bake it immediately. Once the liquid ingredient is in contact with dry ingredients, it will activate the baking powder and the batter must be baked right away.
Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the muffin pan or molds as soon as you take them out of the oven.
When serving, put a dollop of iba jam on top of the muffin, or drizzle some butter. Best served when hot.
We can always come up with something new and interesting by just using our very own resources. Turn around, there a lot of fruits in season waiting to be explored in your kitchen!
Nutritional Value of Bilimbi as mentioned in Wikipedia: protein, fiber, phosphorous, calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, carotene, ascorbic acid, niacin. Don’t let me try to identify what each nutrients can do to our health, all I know is that we need all of these to stay healthy.
Spotted: This fruit makes a buzz around the metro when the ever famous Zubuchon paired their spit-roasted pig with a tart Kamias Shake.