Hello! We're happy to have you!

Showing posts with label muffins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label muffins. Show all posts

Monday, April 27, 2020

Mulberry Lemon Muffin Loaf

So easy!
I love this recipe because it's consistent and easy to pull together with any soft fruit you have lying around, and you can easily modify to fit your tastes!

Mulberry Lemon Muffin Loaf
adapted from On Baking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals

  • 7 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 oz tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 5 oz granulated sugar
  • 2 oz vegan butter, coconut oil, or lard (solid fat only please)
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • 8 fl oz (1 cup) oat milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • A fat pinch of kosher salt
  • Last year's mulberries from the freezer 
    • Or whatever small round fruit you have that's frozen; 5 oz of blueberries will do


Prepare a loaf tin by buttering and flouring or lining with parchment paper. I am the proud owner of a sort of funny "ridged" loaf tin that I had acquired from a garage sale before the Plague hit us all, so I decided to use that for this endeavor. If you are like me and collect random tins from thrift stores and garage sales, fooling yourself by saying "Oh, I'll use this for X Y Z applications", I should like for you to take this opportunity to prepare that special tin for this endeavor. After all, when else have you ever used that thing? If you do have your heart set on muffins, however, this yields a dozen large muffins, that should be filled in paper cups lining your standard muffin tin.  

Combine both flours in a medium bowl with the baking powder, granulated sugar, and salt. Chop the butter into cubes and dump it into the flour. Using your fingertips, pretend you're making a pie and rub the butter into the flour. I like to do this until the butter is quite small, almost like little rice granules are hiding in the flour mixture. I then add the lemon zest and do the same thing. I like to do this because I think it helps release the essential oils of the lemon into the flour, which will permeate the entire batter. 

Wash your hands now, starting by wetting with hot water and lathering separately with soap. Scrub between the fingers, under the fingernails, and then the top of your hands, all the way up to your wrists. Look out the window over the yard, or parking lot, and have a quick daydream about lounging around your living room in a long gown, telling everyone who'll listen that you used to be beautiful once. Rinse your hands thoroughly and pat dry. 

Combine the oat milk and eggs in a large measuring cup using a pair of chopsticks or a fork. Stir in the vanilla paste and lemon juice and mix until everything is mixed well. Make a deep well in the middle of your dry ingredients and add your liquid ingredients. Make sure you scrape the edges of the measuring cup with that spatula!

Next, stir gently three times clockwise, then three times counter-clockwise. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl all the way around, and then repeat that same method of stirring. You should have a loose and lumpy batter that everything has come together for, without dry spots. Take this now and add in the frozen mulberries, as many as you want, and fold in gently. I only had a cup and a half left, so that's what I used. 

It's not gonna look cute at this stage.
Pour your muffin batter into your prepared molds of choice and then let sit on the counter, undisturbed, and covered with a loose and clean tea towel. You're now going to want to preheat your oven to 350 degrees and let the muffin batter rest until the oven gets hot. While we're waiting, let's learn a thing or two about different mixing methods for any quick bread recipe you may find.

As mentioned before, this recipe is adapted from a textbook I bought in culinary school. My own copy of the textbook is now a tattered mess, but it's gotten me through the baking portion of culinary school and talks about mixing methods. In this recipe, it says right up top that this is the muffin method, and I will tell you now that yielding entirely to the muffin method will yield tasty results. 

The muffin method is simply sifting all dry ingredients together (flours, baking powder, salt, sugar) in a large bowl and then separately mixing the fats (which are usually either melted butter or oil) with the milk, extracts, eggs, etc. in another separate bowl and then dumping the liquid into the dry. Simply mix until just barely combined, fold in the soft fruits and whatnot, and bake. Why have I changed the method for this application?

In short, I like to do a combination of muffin and scone method for this loaf, because I think this makes this particular recipe just that much more versatile, and you can bake in big loaves as well as small cups. Muffins wrapped in paper cups are a joyful staple in the breakfast world, but few things are more satisfying to me than slicing into a big cake-like loaf and enjoying that slice with coffee in the morning. It only feels like I'm having cake for breakfast, which is enough to get me through my day.

The scone method might also be called the biscuit method if you live in the United States, where we love our buttermilk biscuits. To the rest of the world, however, our biscuits are versions of scones, and the method we use to make them is a classic method for making good quick bread. Simply take all of your flours, leavening agents, etc., and sift them all into a big bowl. You can cut in the fat with biscuit cutters, knives, or your own fingers until the butter is quite piece-y and pea-sized. Mix in your liquids, roll out onto a floured surface and cut into shapes before either freezing or baking. This method is done this way instead of the muffin way because this method desires one thing above muffins:

Layers.

You get a "layer" in a baked good by having a solid, chilled fat sort of hanging out in pockets, between little blankets of dough. You'll want this chilled and solid because when this cold item hits a very hot oven, it'll melt quickly and the water in this butter will boil and therefore create steam. The steam shoots upwards and forces the flour to rise up, too. As the oven continues to cook, the heat solidifies the structure that the butter has made the flour create, and you get layers as a result when they come out. 

Since we've been reading this, you might want to check your oven and see if it's hot enough. If it has reached its desired temperature, pop your muffin loaf in on the middle rack and bake the loaf for 45 minutes at 350, rotating once halfway through to ensure even cooking, or until it's golden-brown and delicious. While you're waiting, would you like to hear why the heck I want to put the "layers" principle in my muffin loaf in this way? 

When you're baking a larger mass like this and you want the muffin texture to remain, I think it's important to give your leavening a little bit of extra help. Cool-ish, tiny pockets of fat will result in larger bubbles in this loaf, but I personally like that because I like to slice the loaf and sometimes toast it under the broiler. These tiny extra 'pockets' of air where the fat once was are quite pleasant for an extra smear of butter, jam, or cream cheese. It's also nice because when you bake in a long loaf, you get that glorious crack all down the top, and that crack is the extra texture that I simply adore. Better and better still, I personally have found that baking them this way helps them last a day or two longer than the kind of muffins I bake with the butter being in a more liquid state. I have a lot of theories as to why, but I also am a person that says "who am I to argue with consistent results?"

Some might also be wondering why I let my muffin batter rest instead of just baking it. I like to let my muffin batter rest for two reasons, the first of which being gluten. Gluten is a great thing for baking, but too much of it will result in a bread-like texture for your muffin, which is not exactly what I want for this. Think of gluten as a net, trapping the air and fat and all the other goodies into a solid mass after baking, but we don't want too much because gluten results in chewiness instead of the cake-adjacent texture that someone would generally shoot for in a muffin. For all of these reasons, the muffin batter resting means the gluten will relax, and the acid in the lemon juice will have some time to snip away any excess gluten we might have lying around wanting to thwart our muffin's efforts at perfection. 

The second reason I like to do this is because of moisture. If one were to let the muffin batter go straight into the oven without a rest period, they would still get a muffin, but I don't think that the end result is as nice as letting it rest for at least twenty minutes in a cool space before baking. This is not an absolutely necessary step, but I do think that anything worth doing is worth doing well. 

After your 45 minutes has passed, peek into the oven to see how your loaf is looking. This all should look like you have a shiny, golden-brown top with a little crack running down the middle and the surface should spring back when touched. If these parameters are met, feel free to evacuate your loaf from the oven and allow to cool for at least ten minutes, in the tin, before removing to a cooling rack. If they are not met, then you likely only need another 5-10 minutes in the oven.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve with coffee! 
This muffin loaf can easily be modified with any soft fruit you may have in the freezer and is designed to let you bake something quick and simple without dirtying up too many bowls. I love this muffin loaf recipe because it's versatile, consistent, and - above all else - easy to whip up in an instant. I think that the humble quick bread should be a part of every good cook's repertoire and I call on you, dear reader, to take up your wooden spoon and claim this skill for your own. When the Plague has left this land, we will be armed well with basic baking skills, and hopefully, the confidence to make our own continental breakfasts at home. It is my sincerest of hopes that once we all are safe enough to leave our homes, we'll have a renewed sense of ability and confidence in the kitchen.

Good luck, everyone! I hope you're all staying safe, staying hydrated, and staying a safe distance apart from everyone else. Don't forget to wash your hands often and wear a face mask every time you go outside of your own home.  

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Butternut Squash Muffins

Want more pictures? Follow me on Instagram @WannaBGourmande!
Fall is here and my inner Basic Bitch is going bananas. (Follow my favorite tag #basicbitchesunite on instagram) Pumpkin Spice is King during these fabulous months, and his lovely Queen Apple Cider reigns benevolently at his side. That being said, there are more than enough fruits and vegetables to go around during this time of year that you can consume to maintain your seasonal lifestyle.

Things that are in season, in America, this Fall:

  • Apples
  • Beets
  • Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts
  • Cranberries
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
    • Here in Kansas City, you can find the wild ones!
  • Pomegranates 
    • Persephone Returns to her Husband, Hades!
  • Squash of all varieties
  • Pawpaws
    • True American Fruit!
  • Chinese long beans
    • These are AMAZING on the grill!
  • Okra
  • Green beans
  • Quince
    • Important: Cook these for jams and jellies...they are inedible while raw!
  • Sweet potatoes
I personally have found everything except for the pomegranates at my local farmers market. Since I work at a farmer's market, too, I often get the pick of the litter in exchange for cookies or a loaf of bread. Bartering between market stall owners is honestly the main way I get groceries nowadays. I, of course, shop at wholesale stores for my bakery, Pistachio Bakehouse, but I barely go to the grocery store every other week for myself, mostly for toiletries and dog food. Otherwise, I barter with my farmers for produce and I go to The Local Pig(famously local butcher in Kansas City) for my meats and eggs. 

Cooking and eating seasonally is a challenge, and I'd be a jerk to say otherwise. I'm fortunate enough to live in the Midwest, where everything grows. I won't be so lucky in the winter, so I'll have to find alternative methods of finding food, but until then I'm sure I can find a way.

There's been a plethora of butternut squash around me as of late, and I just adore it. Squash is a fabulous food full of potassium and high amounts of fiber, making it a great choice for your heart and bones. You can roast it in chunks, but I find that it's much more versatile in the puree form, especially because this is how you use it for pies, cakes, muffins, etc. Here's how to roast it for puree:

We got these from a local farmer, since mine didn't turn out so great this year...
 Cut your squash in half using a big fukken knife and score in hatch marks using a smaller knife. Scoop out the seeds and, if you're a gardener, too, set aside to wash them free from the pulp and let dry for planting next season. (This does take some work, but it's an investment of time now to pay off later in spades.) I had about ten squash to work with, but simply use this formula:

Per 1 Medium Squash:

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 oz(4 Tbsp) butter, really really soft
  • Two or three nice sage leaves from the garden
Rub the sage leaves a few times between your palms to release the oils. Rub the butter all over the fleshy side of the squash, then rub in the sage and salt. Roast first at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 325 and then continue roasting for another 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and then cover with aluminum foil. Let set for about 15 minutes, or until cool enough to handle with your hands. 
dat color tho

Scoop out the squash from its skin and pop it in a blender/food processor, and puree until smooth. You can pop this mixture into mason jars and can it for later use, or you can use some now for muffins! This is makes and exceptionally delicious spice cake and it's just lovely with a hot tea or a cold morning. 


Butternut Squash Spice Muffins
Adapted from Quick Breads by Liz Franklin

Cake:

  • 320 g Cake flour
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 200 g brown sugar
  • 100 ml Maple syrup
  • 50 g coconut oil
  • 50 g olive oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp Rum extract(optional, but yummy!)
  • 150 g butternut squash puree
  • Strusel topping, if desired
Strusel Topping
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, soft
Make your strusel first by combining all ingredients in the bowl of your standing mixer and blending with the dough hook until it all comes together when you take a handful and squeeze it in your fist. You can set this aside in a separate container, in the refrigerator, for up to a month. Make sure you write the date using a piece of tape and a sharpie! Organization will set you free...

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 

Combine your dry ingredients (flour, spices, baking soda, salt, brown sugar) in the bowl of the standing mixer and mix to combine with the paddle attachment. Add in your fat and stir for about a minute, until the mixture is sort of crumbly-looking. Add in your liquid ingredients(maple syrup, extract, eggs, and squash) all at once and stir until everything comes together, but do not over-mix. It's 10000000% okay if the mixture is lumpy, just be sure to scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl once more before popping it in your mold.

This recipe makes a very nice loaf cake for your eating pleasure, but I much prefer to have them in individual muffins, lined with paper. The reason I don't just spray the bejeezus out of a muffin tin and pop in my batter? Well, there are a few...

This recipe is what is known as a quickbread, and therefore "rises quickly." In order for it to get a nice top, the batter has to be able to climb the sides and stick to them so it expands as it bakes. If I were to spray the pan, my batter would release easily from the sides after baked, sure, but they'd be sadly short and muffin-top-less. If I have a loaf pan, I'll simply spray and then flour, so that it'll both be easy to release but the batter will have something to cling on to as it rises, resulting in lovely, even bubbles and a light, fluffy muffin. 

Here's a little naughty Chef's trick: After I've panned my batter(put it in the pans), I let it sit for about 5 minutes while the oven gets up to temperature. Quickbreads are meant to be quick, yes, but baking soda is activated by both moisture and acid. Since this is a fairly low-acid recipe, you have a little leeway to let those flour granules soak up some of that lovely moisture from the eggs and squash. Sugar is also highly hygroscopic, so the high amount in this recipe helps you keep this muffin moist anyway....but why go halfway when you could go all the way by letting it rest?

Once my batter is panned and rested, and my oven heated, then go ahead and sprinkle on that yummy strusel topping, if you're using it, and bake. Set your timer for 25 minutes and then check them with a toothpick. If you're super-precise like me, you should temp your cakes/breads/quickbreads at about 200 degrees F with a thermometer. Mine took about 27 minutes in my oven at home, but your oven will likely behave differently.

Allow the quickbread to cool for about 15 minutes before removing from the pan, and then cool completely before cutting into it. Enjoy it with some warm apple cider and an infinity scarf while you drag your boyfriend Jeremy to the apple orchard.



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipes - Part 2, Cornbread

Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without side dishes or salads or soups(maybe?), but there is a staple that is such a...well, staple that it's often included without even needing mention. I speak, of course, of rolls. Either soft yeast dinner rolls or cornbread skillets, a table isn't complete without bread.

"Challah" atch'yo girl!
I mean, seriously. In the food world, bread is amazing. Everybody loves it, and it costs - like - not even a dollar to make a few loaves. The world has been shaped and even some cultures are undeniably recognized by their breads. The French have the baguette, the Jews have Challah, the British have scones, and we have...Wonder! Yay!

My point is that we can't have Thanksgiving without bread of some kind, and in Culinary school I have cooked a lot of bread. Not to my chagrin, mind you! I love bread - and I love it even more when any skinny/fat girl says "Eeew bread is so bad for you!"

Bitch, please. If this stuff was really that bad for me, I'd be dead in a ditch somewhere. I love bread so much more violently out of my hatred for those girls.

(By the way, for those who don't know, I define a Skinny/Fat girl as a girl that doesn't want to lose weight in a normal healthy way such as eating right and exercising over an extended period. No, this is the person that takes drops under the tongue and eats a 500 calorie-a-day diet to lose 30 lbs in 30 days - which just seems FREAKISHLY unhealthy to me. I also define that bitch as the 20-lb-dripping-wet-ho that says "Oh no Tiffany, you're not fat - I'm fat!" THOSE are skinny/fat girls. I'll probably reference those more in my blogs in the future. Anyway.)

They're so shiny with butter! They almost look plastic!
But, no, I love bread. All kinds. This particular bread dish I would like to share with you is the twist on a classic: Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins! It screams cornbread classico, but with a bit of a twist. This recipe is straight out of my notebook from Culinary school, and the best part is that it's only a tad spicy, for those sensitive folks out there.

Of course, feel free to take this cornbread muffin recipe and make it your own. The beautiful part of this recipe is that you can pretty much add anything, with a few minor adjustments here and there, which we will discuss later. But you can add any little ingredient to this recipe and make it your own - and let it become your new Thanksgiving Tradition for your family to enjoy through generations. And don't worry, nobody has to know that you got the recipe from a 23-year-old girl with chipping toenail polish.

Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins
Muffin Method

  • 12 oz cornmeal
  • 12 oz pastry/A.P. flour(mixed if possible)
  • 3 oz sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 24 fl. oz buttermilk
  • 6 eggs
  • 8 fl. oz oil
  • 6 oz corn kernels
  • 6 oz grated cheese(we used cheddar/pepperjack)
  • 4 oz jalapenos, brunoise
(Please measure via weight using a scale. It will work out SO MUCH BETTER.) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare your muffin tins by greasing the cups or by lining them with paper liners. Seed and finely dice the jalapenos, and set aside. If buttermilk is not readily available, you can easily create it by combining the necessary amount of milk with a few teaspoons of rice wine vinegar(my personal favorite) and letting it sit for at least 15 minutes at room temperature on the counter.

Don't ask me who's in the background. I forgot.
Combine all dry ingredients together in a large bowl, ideally via sifting. Whisk together the buttermilk, cheese, eggs and oil. Keep the corn kernels and jalapenos to the side, as they will be mixed in last. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients.

Stir a maximum of 12 times, scraping the bottom of the bowl. You don't want to get rid of lumps. You only want to combine the ingredients - they don't call muffins 'quickbreads' for no reason! Fold in the corn kernels and jalapenos right at the very end, mixing a minimal amount of times.

Portion the batter into the prepared amount of tins as quickly as you can. Time is important, because baking soda and baking powder are time-sensitive, and the longer you wait, the less fluffy-muffiny-goodness you have. Therein, make sure that EVERYTHING is ready, because you don't want your batter sitting and going flat while you prepare your muffin tins. So do be deliberate. An ice cream scoop is ideal for portioning quickly, but two large spoons will do just fine in a pinch.

Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes then lower the oven to 350 until done, about another five minutes, if that. You basically just want to watch until they are GBD, or "golden-brown delicious" around the edges. Test with a toothpick, but be brief when you do. Every time you open your oven, you lower the temperature and change the pressure of the baking conditions, which can harm your final product, and that's not what we want.

Once removed from the oven, make sure to let them rest in the pan for at least 10 minutes before overturning them. After that little period of rest, you can take them out of their tins and let them hang out on the counter, ideally on a cooling rack. I understand that not everybody has them, but they're not even ten bucks at a local Walmart, and really worth the investment for superior baked goods - or at least baked goods that can cool faster and go in your mouth sooner.
Ignore the red stuff. Or not.

Serve these warm with a compound butter of your choice. These are seriously awesome.

For those of you who don't already know, a compound butter is just butter that's been whipped together with flavorings such as lemon juice, minced garlic, herbs and spices, or other tasty things to make everything seem a tad more special. My personal favorite is honey butter, which is so easy and so tasty that you'll want to keep a batch or two on hand in your fridge for bagels and toast. Also, most compound butters freeze perfectly, so they can be made in advance in blocks. For an extra kick, pipe them on a plate with a star tip to get that "Wow" factor.