Prepped: Vanessa Kimbel’s caraway and parmesan muffins pass the test

Vanessa Kimbell is now running a great new venture: sourdough baking courses. Do check out her new website or follow her on Twitter

Caraway and parmesan muffins baking.

Caraway and parmesan muffins baking.

Vanessa Kimbell put out a call to the food blogger community recently, asking for willing testers for the recipes in her next book, Prepped!. The concept is unique: every recipe leads to another one, linked by a flavour. Linked recipes are sensible and educational but also inspirational. When every recipe you cook leads onto another one, even the timid cook will begin to see how dishes link and how ingredients or entire recipes can be re-purposed or redressed. And since the focus is on cooking when you haven’t got much time, these recipes offer near immediate satisfaction. I look forward to seeing the final book when it comes out in June. In the meantime, I’ll be eating caraway and parmesan muffins.

Muffin cases at the ready.

Muffin cases at the ready.

The recipe that Vanessa asked me to test was caraway and parmesan muffins. I like muffins – out come the silicon muffin cases again – and I like the two flavourings in these. Caraway isn’t something I cook with a lot, I use it in rye bread but want to think of more ways of using them. They have a lovely, sweet flavour somewhere between cumin and fennel that works well with earthy flavours and really well with a punchy cheese.

To my surprise, I found my self slightly nervous about this cooking experience. I got a touch of performance anxiety. Normally, if I mess up a recipe – not that I often do –  it only affects me. But if I miss-read a recipe while I’m testing it for someone else, I could give useless or misleading feedback. So I decided to proceed with caution and deliberation.

Preparation is everything! Well, it's a start, anyway.

Preparation is everything! Well, it’s a start, anyway.

I carefully read the recipe, got all the tools I’d need and lined up the ingredients in the order they were listed. I made sure to follow the recipe to the very letter. When that didn’t quite work, I got to engage my critical mind and realised that there was a typo in the recipe – the milk was missing a zero. This is why we test! I’m ever so pleased to have been part of the process. It was oddly satisfying to have found something that needed fixing and get a plateful of tasty muffins into the bargain.

Vanessa has taken a year out to write Prepped! and is blogging about her experience. While waiting for the book, and reading the recipes on her website, here’s the caraway and parmesan muffin recipe, typo corrected. A big thank you to Vanessa for sharing her recipe so generously!  Do check out co-author Danielle’s tested recipe – basil and cardamom ice cream.

Caraway & parmesan muffins

More often than not, when I’ve been in the garden for the day the very last thing I want to do is cook a meal. My get-out is a ploughman’s: a large hunk of cheese with a pot of Spiced Tomato Jam or Plum Chutney together with some crispy salad – and these hot, buttered Caraway and Parmesan Muffins. It’s easy food. They also make absolutely fabulous accompaniments to pretty much any soup.


Vanessa's caraway and parmesan muffins are perfect with soup.

Makes 8 muffins
Prep time 10 minutes
Cooking time 20–25 minutes
Suitable for freezing? Yes

280g plain flour
155g Parmesan, grated
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 large egg
4 tbsp rapeseed oil
250ml milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5. Grease a muffin tin.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, Parmesan, baking powder, sugar and caraway seeds.
  3. In a large jug, whisk together the egg, oil and milk until blended. Make a well in the centre of the dry mix and pour in the liquid. Stir well for about 1 minute but no more, even if the batter is still a little lumpy.
  4. Fill the muffin cups almost full and bake until they are golden and springy to the touch. Allow the muffins to cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack.

Tips & Uses

Replace the caraway with a teaspoon of dried lavender for lavender muffins.

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We tested recipes for Vanessa Kimbell

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.


  1. Pingback: Make cupcakes for gifts and suprise someone | Edinburgh Foody

  2. I made them for the radio show last week and they went down a storm. Thank you so much Caroline for testing these!


  3. Just sign up at

  4. I’m breakfasting on one as I write – they work as well in the morning as at lunch or dinner. Snap! on the scales.

  5. I love Prepped and have tested 3 recipes.

    Love them! Am so looking forward to getting m hands on the book.

    and I have the same scales as you!

    • I’m breakfasting on one as I write – they work as well in the morning as at lunch or dinner. Snap! on the scales.

      The elderflower and lime macaroons look fabulous! They are high on my must-try list.

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