At work, I used to be known as Pokkie or Pok or iPok, something or other along those lines. Then it changed to Salmon Cakes because of a silly situation involving an apprentice handing me some salmon cakes and my sous chef thinking that was my name. Then it switched to Ives, which most people use still. Now I’ve gotten another one and it’s Muffin Man.

Recently, the regular breakfast chef has been on bereavement holiday so I’ve had to step in and work 5 straight breakfast shifts a week. So, less touching fish, more eggs and bacon instead. One of my jobs in the morning, on weekdays at least, involves making muffins that we sell for like $3 or $4 a pop. At this point, I’m not really thinking about the costs, just making muffins instead. Finally, I get a job where I get a certain simple framework but I get to do whatever I want. Instead of boring shit like portioning/filleting fish or crumbing stuff for frying or making some random sauce, I get to play around a little and make something awesome.

My first muffins, I didn’t think too much. It was more of a “what’s left in the kitchen I can use that isn’t too boring but simple” situation. It was my first solo breakfast. I made orange essence muffins. Easy as. Just spooned enough essence into the muffin mix and added some lemon zest for kicks. It was nice and simple.

Day 2. I stepped it up a notch. I had these 2 takeaway containers of dying strawberries. I could wait until the next day and chuck em or I could dice em up and make fresh strawberry muffins. The latter ruled of course and the waitstaff rejoiced. Unfortunately, we aren’t quite well known for our muffins so it didn’t really sell. If I was to do these again, I woulda used up more berries and turn them into a coulis, use that to ripple the mix for added flavor and color.

Confidence imbued from my earlier successes, I was ready to make the muffin I’d been planning to make since I learned I had to “create” a new muffin every day. It was gonna be a killer one so I needed some help. I was randomly reading David Lebovitz’s blog, which is pretty good by the way, and chanced across a mention of Baked NYC, a bakery in New York. They’d just released a new book called Baked: New Frontiers In Baking. The muffin in question was a banana expresso choc chip muffin. Omg how good is it. I made the mix, baked them off and added a sliced caramelized banana garnish on top. Almost everyone who stopped at the counter for a coffee remarked how good they looked. Still, out of 9 muffins made, 5 got eaten by staff. I only sold 4! I reckon this muffin is amazing. Not trying to toot my horn but Baked’s instead. The muffin came out moist, rich, dense, awesome and flavorful. Soft smudgy banana bits stowed away within the cakish muffin interior that had this scent of coffee whilst the half melted, melt in your mouth choc chips were just to die for. Best muffin ever.

Today though, I met my downfall. We ran out of spray oil and I still greased the muffin tray with oil by finger but they refused to exit. My floor manager managed to get one out and sold it haha but the rest had to be decapitated before they would pop out. Pity because they were pretty damn good as well. This one had no recipe, just ideas. It was a nice and moist blackberry muffin with a crumble crust on top. I used frozen blackberries that we normally use for this quince and blackberry mix used in a crumble we have on the menu. I didn’t think of it at the time but I just thought sticking some crumble on top would make for some nice instant decoration, add some texture and crunch plus flavor as well. The notion that I replicated the dessert menu item into a muffin has only just dawned on me. I’m quite silly sometimes you see. In a roundabout way, I just figured a good combo would be blackberries and crumble, which also happened to be the same thing the head chef reckons. Just for the record, I think my muffin tastes better than the crumble.

So yea, every morning, I bake muffins at 6.30am. At 7, the floor manager pops in and asks if I’ve seen the muffin man. Tomorrow’s muffin? A donut muffin stuffed with strawberry jam. Plain muffin mix, spoonful of jam, more mix then bake before brushing with butter and coating with cinnamon sugar. I just love being able to put in any flavor combos I want and trying to use different techniques in the baking like the processes for garnishing, textures etc. It’s hella fun.