Date Sonja

Today I baked first thing in the morning, which proved to be a smart decision; as the day progressed I started feeling more and more unwell, and suddenly while I was making supper my 13 month old wandered into the kitchen, asked to be picked up, and promptly vomited all over his father, the floor, the dishwasher, and the fridge.

Two of us are now sick and I suspect the other two kids might be brewing something. My middle son is moodier than usual and my eldest has been yawning since dinnertime.

At  least tomorrow if we’re convalescing we’ll have nice, non-contentious muffins to eat.

The recipe

Simmer over medium heat until thick (this is your date filling)

1 cup chopped dates

1 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. lemon juice

***

Beat in large bowl until smooth

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. melted shortening

1 cup date filling

Add and stir to blend

1 1/2 cups bran

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

Add and stir until well-blended

1 cup sour milk or buttermilk

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and let stand for three minutes.

Bake at 375F for 20 minutes. Makes 12 large muffins.

The process

This was by far the most complicated recipe yet. Chop the dates. Make the date filling. Sour the milk. Melt the shortening. It just seemed like an almighty fuss and bother for muffins, which are meant to be easy.

By the time I was done I had dirtied a lot of dishes, and the batter was runny and unappetizing. Also – did I mention – I hate dates?

The kids, however, asked to taste the dates and then promptly ate a couple handfuls each. Weirdos.

I was terribly afraid that a solid half-hour of effort was going to result in nasty, date-tasting muffins.

The result

You can’t even taste the dates, nor do you find pieces of them in the muffins. What you end up with is just a plain bran muffin – one with extra fibre, certainly, but a bran muffin just the same. Dorothy has given us easier bran muffins already, and so I very much doubt I will make this one again. It’s just not good enough to make it worth the extra effort.

Next week

Another date & bran muffin, although with a much easier method and fewer ingredients.

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Health Food Muffins

So, I did not bake muffins this weekend, at all. I spent most of yesterday in a sleep / wake cycle, where every time I sat down I drifted off, and the thought of baking anything just made me depressed.

When I do bake these, I’ll post a review – meantime, here is the recipe:

The recipe

Mix together in large bowl

1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

2 cups granola

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. salt

Blend in small bowl

1/3 cup oil

1 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup molasses

Pour wet ingredients over dry and stir just to moisten. Fill muffin cups and sprinkle tops with more granola.

Bake at 375F for 15 – 20 minutes.

Updated: 

I finally baked these a week late and was pleasantly surprised; they make a dense, chewy muffin that is almost like a granola bar, if a granola bar and a cake had come together to produce a delicious brood of muffin-babies.

Funny thing about these is that changing the type of granola would completely alter the taste and/or texture of the finished product.

I like them, as does the family.

Chips n’ Bran

Another bran muffin – with chocolate chips this time. We’re busting loose!

This weekend we had an old-timey nor’easter; snow, ice pellets, and hurricane-force winds for two days. By some miracle, we didn’t lose our power. We were, however, trapped in the house. Apparently being storm-stayed turns me into a 1950s housewife; I baked, cooked, and cleaned without indulging in much complaining at all.

The muffins got made on Sunday morning, and I then spent the rest of Sunday shooing the kids away from them – so I think we’ll call that a success.

The recipe

Sift together in large bowl

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

5 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1 cup white sugar

Stir into flour mixture

1/3 cup chocolate or butterscotch chips (note: I used dark chocolate chips)

1 1/4 cups natural bran

Mix together in small bowl

2 eggs, well beaten

1 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Add egg mixture to flour and stir to blend.

Bake at 375F for 20 minutes. Makes 18 muffins.

The process

Easy-peasy, this one was. Nothing to it. Batter went together in a snap. Unfortunately it tasted nasty to me… all I could get was the chemical baking powder taste, and I was worried that this one wouldn’t turn out. I got even more worried when I realized it was going to make 18 good-sized muffins – what if I ended up with a huge batch of muffins that no one would eat? But I forged ahead.

Because my oven doesn’t heat evenly anymore, I rotated the pans at the 10-minute mark. One of the muffins fell as I moved it – just completely collapsed in the middle – so be careful when you’re baking them.

The result

Better than the Old-Fashioned Bran, not nearly as good as the Honey Bran. In fact I started imagining the Honey Bran with added chocolate chips and that seemed like a really good idea. These are quite light – not surprising given all that baking powder – and the taste is fine, although I suspect without the chocolate chips they’d be pretty bland and boring. However, 1/3 cup of chocolate chips spread out over 18 muffins isn’t what I’d call an excessive amount of chocolate, and I’d guess they are reasonably high in fibre thanks to all the bran.

The kids loved them, Michael approved, and these are a good go-to recipe if you need a largish batch of something for the week’s lunches. A nice alternative to, say, a chocolate chip granola bar.

Next week

The recipe is called “Health Food”, which I find simultaneously alarming and hilarious. You will need two cups of granola and 1/3 cup of molasses. Ah yes – this recipe dates from a time when ‘granola’ was automatically super-healthy hippie-feed.

Carrot Pineapple

Michael has been waiting for weeks for this one, because carrot-pineapple were his favourite muffins as a kid. There was a lot of excitement around the kitchen today as I mixed this one up.

Because I have learned my damn lesson, I doubled the batch – twelve muffins lasts about a day around here. I’ll provide the recipe as Dorothy presented it, and you’ll end up with 12 large muffins, no problem. Doubling the batch easily yielded 24 large muffins, and if I had more oven space and/or an extra muffin tin I probably could have stretched it to 30.

The recipe

Sift into bowl

1.5 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup white sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

Beat in small bowl, then add to flour and blend:

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2/3 cup vegetable oil

Add and mix well:

1 cup grated carrots

1/2 cup crushed pineapple with juice

Bake at 400F for 20 minutes. Makes 12 large muffins.

The process

I don’t have a food processor, so the worst part of this recipe was grating the carrots – and even that wasn’t so bad. The rest was very straightforward and it went together easily, even if I did cringe at the amount of sugar. However, this is a pretty forgiving batter, I’m thinking, so cutting back on the sugar or maybe subbing in some whole wheat flour wouldn’t be a problem.

You could also substitute applesauce for the vegetable oil.

In the interests of testing out the recipe, I didn’t make any substitutions this time.

The result

First off, the batter was oh-my-god-licking-my-fingers DELICIOUS. Creamy, spicy, sweet… so good. The smell while they baked was fantastic, too – the kids kept coming into the kitchen to check the oven timer to see when they’d be done.

They rose more than any other muffins of Dorothy’s I’ve attempted; this may have been because I doubled everything, I’m not sure, but they got bigger than I was expecting.

They were perfectly done in 20 minutes and WOW, these are just really good muffins. A little carrot cake just for me. The tops had a pleasing crunch and the pineapple broke down during the baking, lending moisture and sweetness. The kids loved them… the baby ate one in three alarmingly large bites and then cried when I wouldn’t let him have a second one immediately.

I can promise you, these are well worth making – and will definitely be going in my permanent rotation here.

Next week – Chips ‘n Bran

By ‘chips’ Dorothy means either chocolate or butterscotch chips – you’ll need 1/3 cup of either, as well as bran and a crazy amount of baking powder.