Archive for the 'baking' Category

12
Jan
14

Watch me turn this muffin into a donut

Donut Muffins 003-001

Sometimes I just want a donut.  And sometimes I give into that craving.  And most of those times, I feel icky after eating one.  Perhaps it’s the type of donut I’ve chosen.  Or maybe it’s the guilt I often associate with eating foods that are not “good for me”.  I once drove for miles on highway 99E in search of a donut shop.  Didn’t there used to be lots of donut shops in the world? They seem to be disappearing, perhaps replaced by Starbucks, McDonald’s and Taco Bell’s.  At any rate, I’ve been having a love-hate relationship with donuts, of late.

After driving south on 99E from Portland, through Milwaukie, Gladstone and practically to Oregon City, I finally found Heavenly Donuts.  My expectations were high.  Anything named “heavenly” should be, in my mind, out of this world.  These donuts should taste like God made them, right?  Or angels, at the very least.

With my sugar junkie adrenalin pumping, I entered the shop.  Nerves and guilt were starting to overtake me.  What was I doing?  Why did I drive all this way for a donut?  These things better be worth it.  I scanned the display case.  Disappointment creeping in now, as there was not much of a selection.  Just the usual suspects; cake, glazed, chocolate covered, maple bars and some really greasy looking apple fritters.  Well, I can’t leave now.  I should have, but I drove all this way.  I’m obligated to buy not one, but two of these things.  And I did.  I purchased an apple fritter and a cinnamon swirl raised sort of affair.  Then I made a mad dash for my car, where I sat and consumed these sins.

God did not make these donuts.  Nor did angels.  Hell, I’m sure if the Devil himself made these donuts, they would have tasted much better.  No, I’m pretty sure these donuts were made by the Hispanic gentleman behind the counter.  No offense to him at all, but these were not donuts worth making a special trip for.  In fact, I’m pretty sure the donuts at Safeway might be a little better.  Either I’m waxing nostalgic for the donuts of my youth, or there are no special donuts in the Portland vicinity.

All this being said, I have found a substitute sweet morsel that comes close to a donut without as much guilt attached to it.  I recently purchased a Williams-Sonoma cookbook simply entitled “Muffins”.  And in that book there is a recipe for Cinnamon-Buttermilk Muffins.  And surprise!  They taste like Buttermilk Bars.  No kidding.  You know the kind of donut I’m talking about?  Kind of shorter and fatter than a Maple Bar, with that buttermilk tang and glaze.

It is my pleasure to share with you what I now call my Donut Muffin recipe.  It could save you a trip searching the streets for a donut shop.  Or maybe that’s just me.

Donut Muffins 002-001

 CINNAMON-BUTTERMILK MUFFINS

From the Williams-Sonoma book

MUFFINS

7 tablespoons (3 ½ oz / 105 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup (5 oz / 155 g) sugar

1 large egg

1 ½ cups (7 ½ oz / 235 g) all-purpose (plain) flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)

½ teaspoon salt

½  teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg IF YOU ONLY HAVE GROUND NUTMEG IT WORKS JUST AS WELL.

½ cup (4 fl oz / 125 ml) buttermilk

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract (essence)

FOR THE TOPPING

2/3 cup (5 oz / 155 g) sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons (3 oz / 90 g) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C).  Grease 9 standard muffin cups with butter or butter flavored non-stick spray;  fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping.

To make the muffins, in a bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg, beating well until pale and smooth.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.  Add to the butter mixture in 2 increments, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla.  Stir just until evenly moistened.  The batter will be slightly lumpy.

Spoon the batter into each muffin cup, filling it three-fourths full.  Bake until golden, dry and springy to the touch, 20 -25 minutes.  A toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.  Unmold the muffins and let stand until cool enough to handle.

To make the topping, stir together the sugar and cinnamon in a small, shallow bowl.  Have ready the melted butter in another small bowl.  Holding the bottom of a muffin, dip the top into the melted butter, turning to coat it evenly.  Immediately dip the top in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, coating it evenly, then tapping it to remove excess sugar.  Transfer to the rack, right side up.  Repeat with the remaining muffins (DUH).  Let cool completely before serving.

Donut Muffins 008

It just occurred to me as I was writing this post, you could totally substitute a simple powdered sugar and milk glaze for the cinnamon sugar, for a true Buttermilk Bar effect.

Next time!

03
Nov
12

mmmmmmm……..coffee cake!

Fall is in full swing in the Pacific Northwest.  We’ve been having almost non-stop rain in Portland for the entire month of October.  As we enter in to the month of November, Katie and I are still eating bounty from our garden and enjoying the fruits from the trees.  I’m especially happy about the crop of fresh figs we have this year.  Last year the tree was loaded with fruit, but none of it ever ripened.  This year it’s falling on the ground, there is so much of it!

That being said, what does one do with so many fresh figs?  Well, some of them get sent to work for our co-workers to enjoy.  I made some fig bars one weekend, mostly to try the recipe and then ship off to our respective jobs.  Everyone approved.  During this week I cooked a bunch of figs down with some added honey and sugar.  Not having a plan for this fig jam, I just let things evolve, as I do.  This morning the fig jam had a purpose.

Chop up fresh figs, throw ’em in a pot, add sugar and honey to your taste and just let it cook down. If it’s still chunky, you can puree it; I used a stick blender to smooth this.

As most of you know, I love Ruth Reichl.   I am still sad about the demise of Gourmet magazine.  It was far superior to Bon Appétit, in my humble opinion.  Thank goodness I held on to tons of my old Gourmets.  One thing I am especially happy I saved is the Letter from the Editor page that I ripped from the December 2001 issue.  It is safely wrapped in a protective plastic sleeve and inserted into my binder of often used recipes.

One usually does not find a recipe on the Editor page, but good ol’ Ruth shared this one from Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book.  It is a very straightforward, simple, delicious coffee cake.  The addition of fig is my contribution to the recipe.

A beautiful, basic coffee cake. This smells so good!

FIG COFFEE CAKE

2 STICKS UNSALTED BUTTER

1 CUP SUGAR

3 EGGS

2 ½ CUPS ALL PURPOSE FLOUR

2 TEASPOONS BAKING POWDER

1 TEASPOON BAKING SODA

1 TEASPOON SALT

1 CUP SOUR CREAM

5 TEASPOONS VANILLA

FIG JAM

Pre-heat oven to 350°  Cream butter and sugar together in the bowl on a standing mixer.  Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.  In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add this to the butter mixture.  Stir sour cream and vanilla together and add to the batter.  Mix just until everything comes together to a smooth, thick batter.

Grease a non-stick 10 inch bundt pan.  Spoon half of the batter into the pan, smoothing evenly.  Make a sort of ditch in the center of the batter.  Fill the ditch with fig jam.  Spoon the remaining batter over the top and spread evenly.  Bake for about 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes;  remove cake from pan.  You can serve this warm or at room temperature.

You can serve it plain. Plain sounds pretty ordinary, but this is not ordinary coffee cake.

Or you can dress it up by drizzling a little honey over the top while it is still warm. This was soooo good!

06
Nov
11

On Board the Crazy Train of Inspiration

Inspiration. I love that word. I love the idea of inspired thoughts and action. As human beings we are inspired by our world around us, every day, every moment. We just have to be aware of it.

For example, a few weeks ago as I was quickly breezing through the produce department on my way to the time clock, I overheard a snatch of a conversation between two co-workers. They were talking about Ozzy Osbourne. Bam! It hit me. I knew what I was going to be for Halloween this year. It was that simple and inspired.

Vampire Gran as Ozzy

Ozzy as Ozzy

A little scary

I’m not the only one lookin’ a little old

This was everyone’s favorite shot

Looking at some over ripe bananas in the fruit bowl this morning, I knew some baking had to occur today. Would it be muffins or waffles? I’ve fallen in love with two recipes lately and have been making them weekly. The muffins won the mental coin toss, so I commenced to prepare the pan, mash bananas, and gather my ingredients. The last time I made these muffins I added some sweetened flaked coconut. Everyone raved. I always put chopped nuts in the muffins, usually walnuts or pecans. Inspiration reared up and the bright light came streaming in. I heard the faint angelic voices in my head sing out in unearthly splendor. What if I add cocoa powder today? Chocolate, coconut and pecans = German chocolate goodness. German Chocolate Banana Muffins!

 

Holy breakfast break though, Batman! These are some fantastic treats. But are they really muffins? Or are they naked cupcakes? Cuppins? Muffcakes? (oh, that sounds kinda naughty). Breakfast cupcakes? Whatever we call them, they are inspired goodness. You be the judge.

German Chocolate Banana Muffins

1 ¾ cups spelt flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt (Kosher or sea salt)

¼ cup cocoa powder, sifted

1 ½ cups ripe mashed bananas (about 3 large or 4 medium bananas)

2/3 cups pure maple syrup

1/3 cup canola, sunflower or extra virgin coconut oil, melted

½ cup chocolate chips (use dairy free if making vegan muffins)

½ cup chopped pecans

1 cup flaked coconut

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375° Prepare 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or light coating of oil

Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cocoa powder in large mixing bowl.

In a smaller bowl mash bananas, oil, and maple syrup together.

Stir wet into dry ingredients until just mixed. Add chocolate chips, pecans and coconut.

Divide evenly into the prepared muffin pan. Sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar.  Bake for about 25 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Store in airtight container for up to 3 days. These freeze beautifully. Double wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in a freezer Zip Lock baggie.

Crazy full of chocolaty coco nutty Germany goodness

28
Jul
11

Buckwheat is O-Tay!

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “buckwheat”? Kid with a funny name on the Little Rascals? Pancakes? Something that pillow you heat in the microwave is stuffed with, perhaps? If you are in the know, maybe soba noodles? I just found out that soba noodles were made from buckwheat. I did preface that sentence with “if you are in the know”, which, obviously I am not. I’d be willing to bet that blueberry muffins and granola might not make it into the top answers on “Family Feud” when they surveyed 100 people about buckwheat usage.

Be that as it may, I’m here to tell you that buckwheat makes both great granola and muffins! And that both are vegan AND gluten free. And they taste great. Who knew? Another tid bit of information that I’d like to pass along is that buckwheat is another one of those power foods that helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The fact that buckwheat is so good for us is reason alone for adding it to our diet, and the fact that it makes killer treats is a plus.

Moist, buckwheaty blueberry muffins


Blueberry Buckwheat Muffins

adapted from “Get it Ripe” by Jae Steele

1 3/4 cups whole buckwheat groats (raw, not toasted)

2 cups filtered water (room temp or just-boiled)

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 organic non-dairy milk

1/3 cup flax seeds (golden preferred) I used ground flax seeds and they worked great!

1/4 cup softened non-hydrogenated coconut oil or sunflower oil (plus extra for coating the pan)

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

zest of 1 organic lemon (if unavailable, skip it)

1 tsp anise seeds, ground (optional) I used cinnamon instead because a: I didn’t have any anise and b: I don’t really care for the flavor of anise

1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries

Rinse the buckwheat, then combine it in a bowl with the room temperature water and soak overnight (or combine with the just-boiled water and soak for an hour).

Preheat oven to 375 degfrees F.

Prepare muffin pan with paper liners or a light coating of oil (you’ll need tp prepare 16 cups instead of the standard 12)

Poar the soaked buckwheat (along with any unabsorbed water) into the bowl of a food processer or blender; add syrup, milk, flax seeds, oil, lemon juice, zest, anise (or cinnamon)

and salt, and give it a whirl for about a minute, until the buckwheat kernels are broken down. Add the baking powder and baking soda, and whirl again for another 10 seconds to combine. Srape with a silicone spatula and give it another pulse or two.

Pour the batter into a large mixing bowl and, using a silicone spatula, fold in the blueberries.

Portion batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them to the top (I like to sprinkle the muffin tops with turbinado sugar to give them a sweet, crunchy crust) and bake for 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack and remove from pan while still a bit warm.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or in the fridge for up to a week.

ready for it's close up

and here's a peek inside

These muffins are seriously good.  I shared one with my friend, Emily, and she made them for breakfast the very next day!

buckwheat groats

Buckwheat groats are hulled, crushed grain.  Some of you may know them by a different name, kasha.  What ever you call them, they are super easy to work with.  You can roast them or cook them like rice.

Here is another easy recipe that makes a low fat granola everyone loves.  Seriously, everyone who has tried this stuff at our house has asked for the recipe. And here it is:

BUCKWHEAT GRANOLA

3 cups raw buckwheat groats

1 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup turbinado sugar (or other dry sugar)

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom

a dash or two of ground nutmeg or a few grates of fresh nutmeg – even better!

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup peanut butter (or any nut butter)

3/4 – 1 cup dried fruit of choice

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.

Lightly oil or use silicone liner (my preferred method) on baking sheet

Place buckwheat in strainer and rinse throughly

Place buckwheat in large mixing bowl and add sugar, spices and nuts.

all that goodness in a bowl (the buckwheat groats are underneath)

Spread evenly on baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then stir. Bake an additional 20 minutes, or until lightly brown

'till it looks like this

After removing from oven, pour the contents of the baking sheet back into the bowl and add nut butter and mix thoroughly while still hot.

stirring in the peanut butter

Add dried fruit and let cool in bowl to crisp up.

I added dried apricots and dates to this batch

all mixed in

Store in air tight container.

looks good enough to eat

This granola is great as a snack, as a topping on ice cream or mixed into yogurt.  I hope you try these recipes, especially if you have someone in your life who is gluten intolerant.  They will love you for it.

28
Jan
11

Triple Chocolate Threats

Evil temptress chocolate treat

 

Sometimes I question which is it that I am most addicted to, the consumption of sugary

goodness or the creation of such treats?  I enjoy both, but if I had to choose but one, I’m

pretty sure that creation would win.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I would have a really hard

time shaking the sugar monkey off my back.  He’s been with me for deep.  But, I know I could

do it.  I’m just not ready yet.

Now, the thought of never baking another cake, cookie or pie strikes fear into my very soul.

Severe depression would be inevitable if I could never bake again.  Ya’ know, let’s just

not go down that path.

Many posts ago I shared a recipe and pictures of Lemon Coconut Pixies.  The recipe came from

the Hershey Company.  I have a recipe tin that was given to me as a birthday gift in 2009

and it sat on our kitchen counter for 10 months  before I ever made anything from it.  That

post was 13 months ago, so it’s time for another recipe from the tin.

HERSHEY’S Triple Chocolate Cookies

48 Hershey’s Kisses Milk chocolate or Milk Chocolate with Almonds (that’s what I used)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened (I used butter, of course)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa (I used cocoa powder form that bulk bins at WinCo)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips ( I used Safeway brand)

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees F. 

What else was I going to do with all this candy left over from Christmas? I did play poker with it the night before I baked the cookies!

 

Mmmmm.......chocolate!

Remove wrappers from chocolates.
2.  Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium

speed in a large bowl until well blended.  Add eggs and milk; beat well.
3.  Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into butter mixture,

beating until well blended.  Stir in chocolate chips. 

Make all the comments you want, it still tastes good

 Shape dough into 1 inch balls. 

Oven bound

Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Fresh out of the oven and hot

4.  Bake 10 – 11 minutes or until set. 

Press kisses into the center of each cookie while still hot

 Gently press a chocolate into center of each cookie.  Remove to wire rack and cool completely.

VARIATION:  For vanilla cookies, omit cocoa powder and add an additional 1/3 cup all-purpose flour.

I made the recipe verbatim, but I wanted to see how they would look with a little added sparkle.  I rolled the dough balls in granulated sugar before I baked another round.  Here is what that looked like.

Roll in granulated sugar for added sparkle

Both versions taste great. 

So good when they're still warm. The chocolate kiss in the center and the chocolate chips are all soft and gooey.

I can clearly state, with authority, that these are delicious.   After all, chocolate, chocolate AND chocolate?  How could they not be tasty?  These beauties will be added to my chorus line of confection.

Oh, great!  One more sweet memory to send packing with that monkey.




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