Pioneer

No, I’m not dead. Yes, I’m back. I could list all the reasons why I haven’t updated in a couple of weeks, or I could just say that life happened, and life didn’t involve muffins. I’m going to do my level best to keep up with the schedule from here on in. I feel like I’ve let Dorothy down by slacking off. I don’t get the sense, from what I know of her, that she would ever have said she was too busy (or tired, or bored, or full of existential angst) for baking.

Anyway, I’m back on the horse. Here we go!

The recipe

Beat in large bowl

3 eggs

Add to eggs and mix well

1/3 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup molasses

2 cups natural bran

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup applesauce OR mashed banana OR pureed fruit (Note: I used mashed bananas)

1 1/2 cups liquid – water OR milk OR apple juice (Note: I used milk)

Mix in medium bowl

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. powdered milk

Add dry ingredients all at once to wet ingredients, and mix well

Option # 1: Stir in 1/2 cup raisins (I didn’t because raisins, no thanks)

Option # 2: Add 2 tsp. cinnamon and 1 cup walnuts (Dorothy suggests this option only if you use applesauce for your fruit)

Bake at 375F for 20 – 25 minutes. Makes 23 muffins using 1/4 cup batter per muffin.

The process

Grating the carrots was as usual a messy icky task, but overall this was a pretty easy recipe thanks to my stand mixer. Side note: I love my stand mixer. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before just how much I love my stand mixer. It really does take a lot of the effort out of baking.

They were baked perfectly at the 20 minute mark, so check them – as always, your oven’s actual temperature will make a difference to the final cook time.

The result

They smelled SO GOOD while baking. My 7 year old insisted on taking several deep sniffs before bed. They rose just enough and are a pleasing molasses colour.

The first bite was almost disappointing, because my first thought was “oh damn, these are bland, AGAIN” but then I took another bite and before I knew it, the muffin was gone. The mouth feel is actually quite good, and I was surprised, because between the bran, whole wheat flour, and wheat germ, I figured these would be kind of grainy – but the texture is lighter than I expected.

I think the kids are going to enjoy these, and they are very healthy so hey kids! You’ll be having muffins in your lunch all week. Enjoy!

Next week

Another version of Carrot Pineapple. You’ll need a cup of finely-grated carrot and a cup of drained crushed pineapple.

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.

 

 

Marmalade

Tonight I made these “marmalade” muffins, and I’ve never come so close to throwing in the towel on this whole project. I spent an hour on these things, and they are pretty much the worst-tasting things ever.

I’ll still record the recipe, because maybe someone is feeling brave and wants to try… but. BUT. Be warned. These are not good and you will shake your fists at the ceiling while screaming “why why whyyyyyy!!!!”

Just go back and make last week’s lemon muffins again.

The recipe

Grind the complete skins of one grapefruit and one orange in a blender with 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk.

[Ed: I’m going to stop right here. The entire skin of a grapefruit. Think about that for a minute. Raw, unprocessed grapefruit peel.)

Add to milk & rind mixture in blender:

1 cup white sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup margarine or 1/4 cup vegetable oil

In large bowl, sift together

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

Pour the rind mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to moisten.

Bake at 375F for 20 minutes. While still warm, brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with white sugar.

Makes 15 good-sized muffins.

The process

I’m pretty sure this recipe came with a new blender, because otherwise why would you make it necessary to dirty up a blender just to make a batch of muffins?

Peeling the grapefruit was a giant pain in the ass, because here’s the thing – I HATE GRAPEFRUIT. The smell, the taste… everything. My throat closes over and my tongue burns if I get grapefruit juice (or even a juice blend that includes grapefruit) in my mouth. So this was just wretched.

Once you get the citrus / milk mixture blended, it looks lovely – a deep yellow colour that sucks you into thinking maybe it magically won’t taste like grapefruit once you’ve baked it.

After combining the wet and dry ingredients, let the batter rest for a few minutes so the leavening has time to work with the acid in the buttermilk. You’ll be left with a light, airy batter in a pleasing colour.

Dorothy suggest dipping the muffins in melted butter and then into sugar; it was getting late by the time these finally came out of the oven so I brushed melted butter over the tops and then liberally sprinkled the sugar.

The results

In case it’s not clear to you by now, these muffins are pretty much the worst thing ever. I always taste the batter during these little experiments, and sweet baby jesus – just getting the batter on my tongue actually brought tears to my eyes. There is just… there’s no taste here beyond grapefruit. I guess if you, unlike me, like grapefruit, you might find the notion of grapefruit in muffin form appealing, but since I really do think no one should ever eat grapefruit on purpose – just no.

I can’t bring myself to try the actual finished product because my tongue still feels numb and bitter.

Now, Michael likes grapefruit so I made him try one. And I quote:

“Oh. Oh GOD. It’s like… grapefruit dipped in grapefruit, or something. Oh. That was… wow. Not pleasant.”

BUT HONEY KEEP EATING THERE ARE FOURTEEN MORE MUFFINS.

As I’m writing this, I’m hearing from a few brave souls on Twitter who say they quite like grapefruit. So – please, if you do make these and find them tasty, let the rest of us know.

All joking aside, I’ll bet these would be quite nice if you made them with just orange peel. I may try that sometime if I have oranges just lying around.

Otherwise, I think we can safely put “marmalade muffins” on the no-no pile.

Next week

Oatmeal muffins! I love oatmeal muffins. Dorothy suggests including either dates (maybe you still have some left, like I do) or raisins. Otherwise, you should have everything you need on hand.

 

Lemon

Slight change to announce. Every Sunday we cook at least three meals for the week ahead, plus one to actually eat that night. Four meals in one day, plus packing lunches, and by the time that is done I don’t even want to see the word “kitchen” written down anywhere.

So! I’ll be changing to updating this space on Monday nights from here on in. I feel guilty every Sunday when I don’t have the energy to bake a batch of muffins on top of everything else, and it’s starting to feel like a chore. Since I’m not even halfway through the book, that’s not a good thing – so starting next week updates will come Monday evening.

Here is the recipe for this week. I’ll be baking these later this morning and will post the results later. I’m really hoping these turn out. I’ve had three not-so-tasty recipes in a row, all resulting in me tossing half the batch in the compost after they moulded on the counter because no one will eat them.

The recipe

Sift together in large bowl

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Combine in small bowl

1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 eggs

grated rind of 1 or 2 lemons

Pour wet into dry and stir to combine. Sprinkle tops of muffins with white sugar.

Bake at 400F for 15 – 20  minutes. Makes 10 – 12 muffins.

Dorothy suggests “serve with dessert of berries and cream”, which frankly sounds really good, if fresh berries were in season.

The process

These were so easy I felt kind of silly for not just doing them last night. I didn’t have quite enough lemon juice, even though I juiced two large lemons, but it didn’t affect the batter at all.

I only zested one lemon, because I thought two might be a bit much since I don’t actually have berries and cream on hand to serve them with.

Because I was making these with the “help” of two three year olds, I clean forgot to sprinkle the sugar on top.

I baked these for 15 minutes and they came out perfectly done. Twenty minutes would definitely have been too long, so watch them carefully.

The result

Dorothy redeemed herself in rather spectacular fashion this week. They are without a doubt the prettiest muffins I’ve made in a long time; a beautiful white with just a hint of lemony yellow. The texture and moistness is perfect; the taste is light but the muffin itself is just the right density. They are not too sweet and the lemon notes are just enough. With berries and whipped cream these would be a simple but classy dessert.

 

Honey Cornmeal

Today is the first day of March Break, so I haven’t baked these muffins yet – we will later this morning as a project to keep the kids amused for a half hour or so. In the meantime, here’s the recipe lest anyone else is home with kids today and needs something to quell the rising rebellion.

The recipe

Pour boiling water over

1/3 cup raisins (Note: I am going to use cranberries because I hate raisins so much)

Combine in medium bowl

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup buttermilk

Sift in large bowl

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

In small bowl beat together

1 egg

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup buttermilk

Add egg mixture to cornmeal mixture. Stir this into dry flour mixture. Drain cranberries well and stir into batter.

There is no temperature or bake time written on this recipe! Since most of the ones in the book so far seem to be 375F for 15 – 20 minutes, I’m going to try that and hope for the best.

Edited to add: 15 minutes at 375 made them too brown. I’d say maybe 350F for 15 minutes and then check them.

Date

I’m committed to the process of muffin-making. I really am! But last week’s Date Sonja fiasco derailed me a little bit. The muffins took bloody ages, and yesterday I threw ten of them away, covered in mould, a dismal failure.

Turns out there is a kind of muffin my family won’t eat. Bran with stewed dates? That was it.

Because of the disheartening feeling I got from chucking out the muffins, I haven’t actually baked this week’s recipe as of yet. However, it’s only 8:30AM, and with any luck I’ll get to them later today. In the meantime, I know there are some of you who start your week with muffins, so here’s the recipe. It still has dates, but it looks a lot easier to put together.

If you’re doing this as a project with kids, rehydrate the dates ahead of time, as they need to be completely cooled before you can use them.

Enjoy!

The recipe

Combine in large bowl and cover with 1 cup of boiling water:

1 cup chopped dates

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup margarine or shortening

In small bowl, beat well

1 egg

Add to egg and mix well

1 small cup brown sugar (Note: I take this to mean that you don’t pack the sugar or worry about a level measure)

Add the egg & sugar to the cooled date mixture and stir until blended.

To this add & stir to moisten

1 cup bran

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

Bake at 375F for 15 – 20 minutes.

The process

Looks pretty simple, although chopping dates is a damn pain in the neck. Makes me wish I had a Slap-Chop.

The result

I’m so convinced that the result is going to be just as unappetizing as last week’s that I’m kind of hesitant to even make the effort. I will! But I am very skeptical.

I daresay if you were constipated, these would be a boon, however.

Next week

Honey Cornmeal! I’m excited to try these. You’ll need buttermilk or soured milk, honey, cornmeal, and raisins (I’m using dried cranberries because YUCK RAISINS).

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.