These walnut and pecan muffins can be eaten for breakfast and are a very special start to the day. Walnuts and pecans are soft nuts, but if you would like a bit more bite and texture you could try some almonds or hazelnuts.

You can have the crumble made and covered in the fridge, and the dry ingredients in a bowl ready to go so that it won’t take you much more than five minutes to get them into the oven. Don’t over-mix, as this makes the texture a little tough.

This sticky gingerbread pudding is ideal for Christmas. Warm through in a medium oven to serve, reheating the rest of the sauce in a small pan or in the microwave. This butterscotch recipe is worth keeping as it is very versatile and will keep in the fridge for a week. We often use it with vanilla ice cream and toasted pecan nuts – a Butterscotch Bonanza.

Neven Maguire's walnut and pecan muffins. \ Photo: Philip Doyle. Food styling: Sharon Hearne Smith

Walnut & Pecan Muffins

Makes 12

For the crumble:

50g (2oz) plain flour

Pinch of sea salt

40g (1 ½oz) butter, cold and cut into cubes

40g (1 1/2oz) soft light brown sugar

½ tsp ground cinnamon

For the muffins:

275g (10oz) self-raising flour

Small pinch of sea salt

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

75g (3oz) soft light brown sugar

100g (4oz) walnuts, roughly chopped

120ml (4fl oz) sunflower oil

50ml (2fl oz) maple syrup

Two large eggs

175ml (6fl oz) buttermilk

  • 1 Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF/gas mark four) and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases. First make the crumble topping. Put the flour, salt, butter and sugar into a mini blender or food processor along with the cinnamon, and pulse it for about 15 seconds until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • 2 To make the muffins, put the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and sugar into a bowl with the walnuts and mix to combine. Mix the sunflower oil, maple syrup, eggs and buttermilk in a jug and then tip into the dry ingredients. Mix it together using as few stirs as possible for lighter, fluffier muffins.
  • 3 Using a spoon or ice cream scoop, divide the mixture between the paper cases, using the spatula to ensure you get every last bit out of the bowl. Sprinkle over an even layer of the crumble topping and bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out nice and clean. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool a little in the tin. These muffins are best served warm or at least on the day that they are made.
  • Festive sticky gingerbread

    Serves six to eight

    250g (9oz) pitted dates, chopped

    400ml (14fl oz) boiling water

    ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

    250g (9oz) light brown sugar

    150g (5oz) butter, plus extra for greasing

    3 large eggs

    25g (1oz) stem ginger in syrup, drained and finely chopped

    1 tbsp ground ginger

    350g (12oz) self-raising flour

    2 tbsp treacle

    100g (4oz) walnuts

    175g (6oz) light brown sugar

    100g (4oz) butter

    250ml (9fl oz) cream

    3 tbsp golden syrup

    1 tbsp treacle

    ½ tsp sea salt flakes

  • 1 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark four). Put the dates in a bowl and pour over the boiling water, then stir in the bicarbonate of soda and soak for 10 minutes.
  • 2 Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Add the stem ginger and ground ginger along with the flour, treacle and date mixture, and beat until evenly combined. Finally, fold in the walnuts.
  • 3 Transfer the cake batter into a buttered 1.5-litre (2½ pint) ovenproof dish and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. If you think it’s becoming too brown close to the end of the cooking time, cover with foil. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
  • 4 To make the butterscotch sauce, put the light brown sugar into a heavy-based pan with the butter, cream, golden syrup and treacle. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then allow to bubble for a couple of minutes until you have achieved a smooth sauce. Stir in salt.
  • 5 Pour some of the butterscotch sauce over the warm pudding and put the rest into a jug to serve alongside.