In Praise of Batty Bristol and Beetroot Chocolate Muffins

Bristol’s a fabulous place to live, I never feel trapped like I do in so many other cities; virtually every where you look there is a glimpse of countryside beyond the buildings. You’re a stone’s throw from wild Wales, Devon and Cornwall and yet you can be in London in under two hours. Better still is the fact that Bristol itself has such a dynamic heart – there’s the great food scene that seems to lack the ponce and showmanship of most big cities, there’s the earthy vibe that has earned Bristol the title of  European Green Capital 2015 and then there are the offbeat, quirky community events that just seem to flourish here.

On Saturday evening we set off on a “magical walking trail to light up winter” in Bishopston  (that’s just North of the city centre to any non-Bristolians). I’d chatted to a “balloon artist” in the sauna at The Lido earlier in the day (it’s where all the best conversations seem to take place) who was on her way to dress a shop window for the event. Shops and, better still,  households were lighting up their window displays between 5 and 8pm. There were over 150 random exhibits at Winter Wanderland– we saw about 40 of them, including meticulously crafted mini cinemas, a shadow puppet show, The Queen and Obama enjoying angel food cake and gin in the back of a camper van, a “live show” – dog lying on a sofa, lego displays, a pompom solar system – the sheer diversity was incredible. We snapped a couple of shots but you’d do so much better taking a peek here here.

Today I took the long way round to my local greengrocer Reg the Veg, walking along the glorious Georgian sweep of Royal York Crescent soaking up the sunshine. What a city! (Clifton pic’s coming soon) I was going to buy some fruit for the muffins that I’d promised to make with Imi after school but settled on some beetroot instead.

I’ve been meaning to play around with that great chocolate/ beetroot partnership in a muffin recipe for ages. I’m well chuffed with the results – still a hint of beetroot flavour, but hopefully not enough to scare off the kids, and some chunks of luxurious chocolate.

Beetroot Chocolate Muffins  – 12

200 g light muscovado, or soft brown sugar
100 g melted butter (use oil if you prefer)
2 medium eggs
100 g  (4 tbs) natural yoghurt
200 g  self-raising flour
4 tbsp cocoa powder
170 g beetroot
100 g dark chocolate

Pre heat the oven to 170 C,  Gas 3 and grease a 12 medium -sized muffin tray or line with papers.

Take a big bowl and mix together the sugar, butter, eggs and yoghurt.

Weigh out the flour and cocoa powder into another bowl.

Grate the beetroot on a coarse grater otherwise the mixture can become a bit too wet and sloppy (you could do this in the food processor but that’s a lot of pink washing up).

Chop the chocolate up roughly or use drops (I find it virtually impossible to get small domestic quantities of decent quality chocolate in the cooking drops)

Throw the flour mix, beetroot and chocolate in with the wet ingredients and stir it all together. Don’t be too zealous, it really doesn’t matter if there are a few lumps and too much stirring leads to solid, chewy muffins.

Spoon the mixture into the greased/lined muffin tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until well risen and baked through when tested with skewer (no gloop on the skewer – you’re done)

Leave to cool on a wire rack and eat as soon as possible.


12 thoughts on “In Praise of Batty Bristol and Beetroot Chocolate Muffins

  1. katmaunsell

    I love these, it’s the only way I can get Rafe to eat beets and they were the first cakes to be gobbled up at the weekly cake sale at Christ Church- think I shall go buy myself some beetroot in the morning!


    1. Jenny Chandler Post author

      Hi Kat, Ditto with Imi. I adore beetroot but am still working on her. These went down v v well.
      Have you ever tried beetroot powder? Amazing in icing – deep, deep pink – always a good seller at the cake sales!
      J X


    2. Judy

      It was actually Window Wanderland not ‘Winter Wonderland’ quoted above. If you google the latter you will end up with the Mall at Christmas, Hyde Park’s ‘spectacular festive destination’, ‘ the highlight of Christmas in Cardiff’, plus of course a song written in 1934……..none of which can match the extravaganza that was Bishopston on Saturday night. Look out for it next year!


      1. Jenny Chandler Post author

        Oh typo! Luckily it did link to the fabulous Bishopston “extraveganza” – Thanks so much, all corrected now!
        I so hope that it will happen again next year; it really was magical.


  2. sjcooksley2013

    I love your blog 😊 I also love beetroot and chocolate so must try these. Can I just ask Jenny when you state a temperature in your recipes ie 170 degrees would that be 150 in a fan oven or are these fan oven temps. I usually presume temps in recipes are non fan unless it says otherwise but I don’t know if I am right in presuming this. It is something I find quite confusing. I wish all recipe books would state the fan temp. Can I also ask if I substituted gluten free self raising flour in this recipe would it work? Trying not to eat wheat these days!


  3. Jenny Chandler Post author

    Hi Susan,
    Glad you’re enjoying the blog – yes, I’d have thought these will work fine with gluten-free flour or you could play around with brown rice flour and ground almonds – I’m sure that you must have come across There’s an interesting gluten free beetroot muffin there.
    As to oven temperatures – I’d say 160 fan (it is a pain I agree but my oven is an old fashioned static!)
    Jenny X


    1. sjcooksley2013

      Thanks Jenny. Wow what a great site thank you so, so much for directing me there – love it!! There are so many talented cooks out there including yourself that so many people no nothing about. Had I not been at your great courses at Bath I wouldn’t have known about you either. I still cook the dishes you taught us 2 years ago – I just wish I didn’t live so far away in Scotland and could come again.
      Susan xx


  4. sashalubetkin

    Susan: My son and I shared one of Jenny’s beetroot chocolate muffins last night, and it was absolutely delicious. Although I’ve never been a baker, I am inspired to have a go myself.


    1. Jenny Chandler Post author

      Pleased to be of service! Also glad that the sun came out in Bristol before I looked at the stunning pictures on your blog- those Arabian blue skies, just a weeny bit jealous!



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