Apricot Oatmeal

Well, I’m a day late and a dollar short this week. I managed to get the muffins baked last night, but then my 15 month old woke up screaming, his sleep totally disrupted thanks to a rotten early-spring cold, and by the time I got him settled again it was late.

So!

I also cheated on this recipe and thus probably totally missed the point. Dried apricots are kind of pricey if you buy them at the grocery store, and I kept forgetting to go to the Bulk Barn for the tiny quantity I needed. Take my review with a grain of salt.

The recipe

Mix together in large bowl

1 1/4 cups rolled oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup white sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Blend in small bowl

2/3 cup milk

1 4.5oz jar of apricot puree (Baby food. All the ones I could find had sugar added.)

1 egg

1/4 cup oil

1 tsp. vanilla

Add wet to dry

Fold in

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1/3 cup raisins (I just used all raisins, although I did use golden raisins, which I have to say I prefer.)

Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Makes – and I couldn’t make this stuff up – 13 and a half muffins.

The process

Super-easy because I cheated and didn’t chop a half-cup of apricots, ha ha. Although someone told me that putting a little oil or non-stick spray on your knife before chopping dried fruit will make the whole process a little faster.

Also, I completely forgot the milk and couldn’t figure out why I didn’t have batter so much as I had crumble. I threw the milk in at the last minute and it was fine.

The result

These are quite a pretty colour, thanks to the golden raisins and the apricot puree. The texture is really pleasant; it just has a good mouth-feel. So it’s disappointing that the actual taste is unremarkable. Like many of the recipes in this book, they are very bland. I think maybe palates just used to be less adventurous, and so some dried fruit plus a little vanilla was plenty.

I would try these again, but they’d need some seasoning help. If any of you decide to give them a try, please leave your changes or recommendations in the comments.

Next week

Carrot Nut (mmm…). You’ll need a cup of chopped walnuts and a cup of grated carrot OR a cup of peeled fresh cherries OR a cup of dried cherries.

Dorothy, with the variations! Holy smokes. For the record, I’ll be making carrot-walnut. I love carrot muffins.

 

 

Whole Wheat

This is the last simple recipe for a while, looking ahead; some of the upcoming recipes have long ingredient lists or time-consuming prep. So enjoy this easy one! After this, it starts getting more complicated.

The recipe

Beat together

1 egg, well beaten

1 scant cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

Add and mix in until blended

1 cup sour cream

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 scant tsp. baking soda

Dorothy neglected to note baking time or temperature. I went with 375F for 15 minutes and they were perfect. 

Makes nine muffins, for some reason. NINE. I find this weird.

The process

So easy. Easy like the classic Basic Muffins from week one. Chuck all ingredients into a small bowl, mix, done. No stand mixer or fiddling around required.

I used dark brown sugar because I forgot to buy light brown sugar on the weekend.

I also didn’t use quite a full cup of sour cream because someone had dipped into the container I bought. It was probably me. It was that kind of weekend.

Once all your ingredients are mixed, let the batter rest for a couple of minutes until air bubbles form. You’ll know it’s rested for long enough when the batter has a dry, foamy consistency.

I used 1/4 cup of batter per muffin, which again, made nine muffins. I’m guessing you could easily double or triple this recipe though.

The result

These muffins look more muffin-ish than any other batch I’ve made. They rose beautifully and have a very pleasing golden brown colour. They smell fantastic – faintly nutty – and overall yield a great result for minimal effort.

Texture-wise they are quite light; if you like a denser, heavier muffin these will not be for you. They are a touch bland, although you could easily fix that by adding spices of your choice, or fruit – I’m imagining these with double the vanilla and some blueberries, and getting pretty excited.

They are not too sweet, not too heavy – just a nice, simple whole wheat muffin that clearly would lend itself well to modifications. They take no time at all to put together and bake, and are a great addition to my go-to easy recipe repertoire.

Next week

Apricot Oatmeal. Ingredients to buy:

  • 4.5 oz jar apricot puree (Dorothy says “jar of apricot baby food”. I haven’t got a clue if one can buy a jar of plain pureed apricot baby food these days; guess I’ll find out).
  • 1/2 chopped dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup raisins

 

Oatmeal Orange

My friend Lila of Sweet and Lovely Crafts modified last week’s Oatmeal recipe with some additional spices and a smidge less sugar. You can see her take on it here. I haven’t tried her version yet but it sounds fantastic. I know that Nicole from Cooking in the Boyhouse has been experimenting with vegan versions of some recipes here, too. Please, all of you feel free to share the recipes, tinker with them as you see fit, and post links in the comments to your results if you wish. If you’d like to put any of these recipes on your own blogs feel free; all I ask is that you link back to this blog and give credit to Dorothy!

OK. This week I roped Michael into helping with the muffins, and I learned that my husband is a darling man who will help bake in exchange for being allowed to lick the bowl afterwards. That’s fair.

The recipe

Combine in a small bowl and let sit until all liquid is absorbed

1 cup best-for-baking oats

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup boiling water

Cream together

1/2 cup margarine (regular readers will know I always use butter instead, because butter)

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

Add

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla

Stir in oats

Add

1 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)

Sift together and add to mixture

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Makes 12 large muffins.

The process

The most complicated thing about this recipe was finding the last can of frozen orange juice concentrate in the very back of the freezer and mixing it up. Otherwise, this is a straightforward recipe with no complicated steps. Lots of simple measuring and probably a good one for doing with small children who love to ‘help’ in the kitchen.

The batter had a strange taste; kind of orange, a little, but otherwise a trifle bland. Not unpleasant, but nothing to write home about.

The result

They smelled quite nice while baking. These ones needed the full 20 minutes to bake all the way through, and for some reason mine got a little browner around the edges than I would normally like. (This may be a function of my oven, which irritates me more with each passing week. It heats unevenly and I’m not convinced the temperatures are accurate. Yes, I need an oven thermometer.)

The texture is surprisingly light; usually oatmeal muffins have a bit of heft to them but these just fall apart when you bite them. The citrus is more of an aftertaste than a strong note; adding some orange zest would be a nice touch, I think.

The sweetness is just right, which is a nice change – I have found that a lot of Dorothy’s recipes to date have been almost too sweet for my tastes. After one bite I started wishing for a cup of tea to accompany my snack.

I like last week’s plain Oatmeal better, but these are just fine, and with a few little tweaks could be an excellent breakfast muffin.

Next week

Plain whole wheat. You will need a cup of sour cream – everything else you’ll likely have on hand.

 

Oatmeal

Holy smokes, after last week’s inedible Marmalade Muffin debacle I was pretty jumpy about even attempting to bake muffins again. (Did anyone actually attempt those grapefruit horrors? I’m curious).

Anyhoo, recipe # 27, “Oatmeal”, looked pretty safe. And I’m coming off a four-day weekend, so I felt brave enough to try baking these with all three of my kids helping out. This was the 15 month old’s first experience with helping mama bake; mostly he pointed at stuff and yelled, and tried to stick his fingers in the mixer while it was running. But he figured out pretty quickly that measuring spoons are for dumping into bowls and batter is for tasting, and I think he had fun.

Oatmeal

Mix together and let stand for 20 minutes

1 cup boiling water

1 cup oatmeal (Note: Not the quick-cooking stuff; the oats labelled ‘best for baking’.)

In large bowl, cream together

1 1/2 cups brown sugar (Note: Dorothy adds ‘or less’ here, so I used scant cups.)

1/2 cup butter

Beat well and then add to butter & sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

Sift into bowl

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Mix well and add

3/4 cup dates, cut fine OR 1 cup raisins (Note: or about a half-cup of dried cranberries, which is what I did)

Now, gently stir in the oatmeal mixture.

Bake at 375F for 20 – 25 minutes.

The process

Easy-peasy. The last few recipes were rather more work than I’d like to see in muffins, especially the terrible marmalade and the truly wonderful lemon, both of which involved zesting citrus. Just the fact that I made these with three children under eight helping me tells you that these were a snap.

The batter tasted really good; like old-fashioned buttery oatmeal cookies. It was also the colour of vanilla caramels, which I took to be a positive sign because who doesn’t love vanilla caramels?

It made 12 good-sized muffins. Beware – these barely rose at all, so if you want your muffin cups full you’ll need to bring the batter level to at least 3/4.

The result

It’s been weeks since I made a muffin that made Michael follow me around talking about how good they were, but these did the trick. He says they are his favourite to date. They are nice; dense and sweet, with the cranberries giving a welcome tart note. You could certainly do with a cup of sugar or even less, especially if you used a sweeter dried fruit than cranberries.

We have a winner!

Next week – Oatmeal Orange

You’ll need orange juice and more raisins. Although I’m going to use cranberries again because a) I really, really like cranberry and orange ANYTHING and b) I bought a whole bunch of dried cranberries on sale once and I have bags and bags of the things in my pantry.