Sunday, January 30, 2011

How About a Muffin?

When the kids were still at home I used to whip up a batch of muffins about once a month. Savory ones to go with soup for dinner or sweet ones for a weekend breakfast were something I just baked without thinking much about it.

Muffins really are quick breads...you combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another, make sure the oven is hot and the muffin tins are greased and it's only a few minutes later that the muffins are in the oven. By the time you've cleaned up they are just about done and the kitchen smells heavenly!

Not very many people know it, but I had a muffin business in the East Bay when my boy was a baby. I called it Mega Muffins and I filled the cups of the muffin tin all the way up so that the tops practically met on the muffin tin top. This was before super sized muffins became popular (see, I'm ancient). I called the scone trend before it happend, too. Too bad I have no desire to run a big baking business...I might even know the next thing that will become big in the personal baked goods area. Cupcakes are almost over so you know something else (besides whoopie pies) is coming :)

But today's topic boys and girls is muffins. Last month Lisa of Parsley Sage Desserts and Line Drives did a contest and I won a gift certificate from OhNuts! Thank you Lisa and OhNuts! One of the items I ordered was a dried cherry and almonds trail mix that also has dried candied pineapple and golden raisins (plus some little chocolate ovals which I removed for the muffins).


Sweetie ate some and declared it a good mix, but I wanted to use it in muffins, too, so he kindly hid the bag until I could bake muffins...otherwise the whole bag would have been snacked on. He also really enjoyed their cashews for snacks. I was very impressed with the freshness of their products. (Yes, I did order more than the gift certificate amount, but it was too hard to choose because so many things looked ...and were...good!)

You can use any combination of your choice of dried fruits and good nuts. I used 1 cup of the mix, but a cup and a half would have been even better.

Some hints for successful muffins: In order to have your muffins be moist and tender, use as few strokes as possible to combine the wet and dry ingredients. Then scoop the batter into the muffin tins right away and get the tins into the oven right away, too. Since this recipe used both baking powder and baking soda (to react with the acid fo the buttermilk) you'll get the best oven spring if the oven is preheated so its good and hot, and if you get the muffins in the oven quickly.

The flavor of these muffins depends totally on the ingredients (there are no spices or extracts or citrus zests to hide behind) so use fresh nuts, milk, eggs and butter. Check to make sure that your whole wheat flour is also fresh smelling before using it. If your dried fruits are really dried out, you could soak them briefly in hot water then drain well on papertowels before using.

I'll bet you are going to love these muffins. They don't even need butter! Of course if you like your nice hot muffins with butter, who am I to tell you no?

Fruity Almondy Muffins

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
1 cup dried fruit and nut mix, large pieces and nuts chopped roughly (I used OhNuts! Cherry Almond Trail Mix, but removed the chocolate pieces)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional)

In a medium bowl combine the first 6 ingredients (dry ingredients). Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the next 4 ingredients (wet ingredients). Set aside.

Add the roughly chopped fruits and nuts to the dry ingredient bowl and stir to coat the added ingredients with the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center.

Pour the wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients. With a fork quickly, with as few strokes as possible, combine the wet and dry ingredients. Scoop roughly 1/4 cup of the batter into each cup of a 12-portion muffin cup pan where the cups have been sprayed with baking spray or greased with oil or butter. Cups should be about 2/3 full.

If desired sprinkle the tops of filled muffin cups with the granulates sugar. Bake in preheated 400 degree F oven until golden brown, about 14 - 20 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

5 comments :

Katie said...

These look goregous and I love the look of the inside texture. I've never been very sucessful with muffins, mine never seen to stay moist enough for my liking. Will have to try with buttermilk.
Thanks for the tips

Emily said...

This looks good. Will update if I do try out this recipe!

btw, whats the next big thing after cupcakes?

Lisa said...

I will gladly take a muffin, or 5, especially if you made them! Using dried cherries and almonds is perfect for a big topper. I think I'd like to make these and add some white chocolate chunks..hmm. In any event - YOU were the inventor of the big muffin top!!! Many others probably claim the same, but the way you went about it is confirmation enough I love it :D

Emily said...

Ops... muffins?

btw, what can I use instead of buttermilk?

Thanks!

Elle said...

Katie, The texture is mostly about not stirring too long. Buttermilk is wonderful, too.

Emily, think handpies and turnovers.

Lisa, white chocolate would make these even better!

Emily, You can sour milk with lemon juice or vinegar and use it instead of buttermilk.