Month: May 2017

mini muffin

Wendy Week 3 – Get Things Moving with Bran Muffins!

I have made this bran muffin recipe for decades – it’s straight from the side of a Quaker wheat bran box. I copied it down decades ago – I have no idea if Quaker still has the recipe on the side now … I buy my bran from the bulk food store now because I’m cheap. 

I’ve tried other bran muffin recipes, and none seem to be as good as this one. It’s easy for bran muffins to be dry and boring – these ones are neither. Nice hit of molasses, the sweetness with brown sugar and a load of milk make them somehow perfect. I usually make them for the kids with chocolate chips, but I prefer them with dates. To satisfy both, I often double the recipe, split the batter, and make the kids a pile of mini muffins with chocolate, while my large muffins have dates. I’ve tried splitting the batter and putting half in with dates and half in with chocolate, but I’m telling you, it’s bloody impossible to tell a date from a chocolate chip just by looking at a baked muffin. 

This muffin recipe differs from all of my others in that it uses shortening. That’s a bit odd, no? But it works. Cream your shortening and sugars – brown sugar and molasses – as you would for cookies. Again, … wierd. Why not melt it? Well. Don’t. Ok? Listen to me. 

Note: It’s really important that you do this creaming step well, since you have to add your eggs and milk to this … and once you’ve added those liquids, if you haven’t incorporated the shortening well, you’ll have and uneven crumb in your muffin. And that is pretty gross. Check out my handy 4 step visual guide for combining the first five ingredients. Can you figure them out?? 

You’ll have quite the runny mess by now…  

Add dry ingredients and mix till just combined. This is the point that I divide my batter and add the chips and dates to different bowls. Easy peasy. 

Bake ’em up at 400 – keep an eye on them. As soon as there is no softness in the peak, pull them out. The wee ones are done in a jiffy!

big and small
These large ones have dates, while the wee ones have chocolate chips. Delish!

Oh ya… the ACTUAL recipe from the green bran box of yore … 

recipe
The things people post online…
finished muffins

Wendy Muffins Week 2 – Blueberry!

For Wendy’s 2nd week of recovery I decided to make blueberry muffins that have a perfect amount of lemon zest in them. The recipe is one I got from smitten kitchen – I follow their Instagram account and love pretty much everything that they reveal to the world. This recipe was adapted from Cooks Illustrated, and I love them too, as I mentioned in a previous post

I love this recipe because it’s dead easy, flavourful, has a nice crunchy top (thanks demerra sugar), and the blueberries – even the massive farmed ones – stay distributed through the the muffin. It’s pretty much the perfect recipe. 

As with most other muffin recipes, you mix the fat / sugar / egg / dairy / flavouring together in one bowl, and the dry ingrediants in a separate bowl. Some recipes have you make a “well” in the dry ingredients and then add the liquid to that … blah blah blah. It doesn’t matter!! Just keep the wet and dry apart and then mix them up all at once … no gradual adding of ingredients. The key to muffins is that you don’t want to over mix. If you do, you’ll get little cement pucks. 

ingredients
Three bowls. Wet ingredients, dry ingredients and blueberries with a bit of flour. Simple.

The overmixing factor cannot be igored. As SOON as the flour is incorporated you must STOP. See here? 

ready to mix
Coating the blueberries with a bit of flour will help prevent them from “bleeding”. But you know this.
mixed
Done the mix. Not too much blue in the batter…

Rather than a wooden spoon, I use a really cool gadget from Lee Valley called a Danish Dough Whisk. (Of course it’s European, as many cool cooking accessories are.)

As I mentioned above, it’s recommended that you top the batter off with a sprinkle of that chunky demerra sugar. It’s worth a trip to the store if you don’t have any! 

uncooked
The batter is stiff going in to the pan – but it’s fine. Sprinkle the sugar randomly on top.
muffins done
Done! 
plated muffin
Enjoy with a wee spot of butter. (Makes everything better, don’t ya know?)
muffins

6 Weeks of Wendy Muffins

One of my BFFs, Wendy, just had surgery. I’ve committed to making her family a batch of muffins every week for 6 weeks. It’s a muffin pledge.

Week 1: banana oat muffins with chocolate chips. A family fav.

Sometimes you have too many bananas laying around because they’ve gone a bit too brown and they are rejected… sometimes you buy too many bananas ON PURPOSE. 

bananas
These ones were $1.15 in the dinted produce section of my grocery store. (How great is that??)

My “go to” methods for reducing the number of bananas in my house is to freeze them (peel, slice, baggie). My methods for actually using them up are generally: smoothies, banana muffins and banana bread (in that order). 

This muffin recipe is FANTASTIC. First of all, because it calls for 5  or 6 medium bananas. It’s a blessing. Amen. So many other banana muffin recipes use up 2 bananas. That’s just bonkers. Why go to all that trouble for just 2 bananas?

This recipe is also FANTASTIC because the muffins are DELICIOUS. They are moist and have a great ‘crumb’. It’s a totally standard recipe – no special ingredients other than maybe oatmeal, which is pretty standard in my opinion. The oats give it some body, which differentiates the muffin from a banana bread. (Why bother making banana bread in muffin form? Just make the bread already!)

ingredients
You’ve gotta love a basic recipe.

In all my years of baking muffins, I’ve learned that the things you toss in at the end are often most important part of the muffin. Raisins and other dried fruit can really piss kids off, while chocolate chips are not fully enjoyed by many adults. Toasted nuts are good for all, I find. Sometimes I split the batter and try to please everyone. But not usually. I generally make whatever the hell I want.

This recipe (in its infancy) actually called for cranberries – dried or otherwise. I’ve put them in once (ok, they were actually dried cherries). People at work ate them happily enough, but they’re basically always starving and desperate. So there were no further iterations with dried cranberries cherries. 

This batch has a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips. For maximum enjoyment.

muffins
Look at those melty chocolate chips! So yummy.

Try this recipe. It’s fantastic!! 

breakfast
Wendy had a great start to the day – drugs and muffin and tea. Perfecto.
Banana Oat Muffins
Uses lots of bananas, is moist and EASY!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/4 c all purpose flour
  2. 1 1/4 c quick oats
  3. 2/3 c granulated sugar
  4. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  5. 1 tsp baking soda
  6. 1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt depending on your taste
  7. 1 egg
  8. 2 cups mashed bananas (5 or 6)
  9. 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted, hurray!
  10. 1 cup of anything you like (nuts, chocolate, dried fruit)
Instructions
  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Mix well.
  3. In another bowl beat egg, banana and melted butter until smooth.
  4. Add to dry ingredients and stir to blend.
  5. Stir in cranberries just to mix.
  6. Fill greased muffin tins till almost full.
  7. Bake at 375˚ for approximately 20 minutes.
Notes
  1. Sprinkle a few large flakes oats on the top for a pro finish.
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