Carrot Wheat

Working through the book in chronological order works well for keeping me organized, but not so well when it comes to using ingredients I have on hand.

I should have done all the carrot muffins in the fall, for example, when I harvested our carrot crop and had literally dozens of carrots crowding my crisper drawer.

Oh well. Carrot wheat! These sound healthy! And like they might taste pretty good!

Carrot Wheat

Measure into large bowl

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Stir into dry ingredients

1 cup coarsely-grated carrots

1 tsp grated orange rind

Beat together

1 egg

1 cup milk

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup melted butter

Add to dry ingredients along with 

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup nuts

Mix until blended.

Bake at 375F for 15 – 20 minutes. Makes 15 muffins.

The method

After last week’s recipe, one of my readers said “but don’t you have a grater attachment for your food processor?” I DO NOT AND NOW I AM SAD. I had to grate them the old-fashioned way, with a box grater. Just like Ma Ingalls. Or Dorothy, for that matter.

I didn’t have either raisins or nuts on hand, because I made this on the spur of the moment one morning when I needed an activity for the kids. I threw in some sweetened dried cranberries at the last minute.

The results

The whole house smelled great while these were in the oven, so bonus! I love it when the big kids come home from school and ask “what smells so good?” as soon as they walk in the front door. They puffed up better than I expected for such a heavy batter and were a pleasing colour with flecks of bright orange and deep red.

They tasted… pretty good. Not a favourite, but they were nice and moist. I’m not sure why the orange rind is in here; it’s overpowering, I thought. My 5 year old agreed with me; he’s a baked-goods junkie and he loves muffins, but he didn’t even finish his first one. Although the rest of the test subjects professed to like them, after a week I ended up throwing away half a dozen uneaten.

Overall, I’d say these are not good enough as they are to make this recipe worth the effort. With some tweaking, I think they could probably be really tasty. If anyone tries, please leave your suggestions / modifications in the comments!

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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.

Carrot Nut

No, you’re not crazy – I missed last week completely. Monday was my birthday, and who wants to spend their birthday baking muffins? NOT THIS LADY. Plus we had a houseguest, and thus I spent every evening after work sitting on the deck drinking beer and reminiscing about high school.

Also, I think it is actually possible to have too many muffins. My family no longer greets each batch with excitement. Add to that, spring is finally here, and the evenings are so long and sunny… I don’t much feel like heating up the kitchen just as the house is starting to cool down a bit.

I have muffin fatigue, people. I’m only three recipes away from the halfway point, and I’m running out of get-up-and-go.

However! My 7 year old and I are re-reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy for the millionth time, and if Mrs. Wilder can serve oatmeal, apple pies, stacked pancakes, and preserves for breakfast EVERY SUNDAY, I guess the least I can do is make a damn batch of muffins once a week.

And so we forge ahead, with this week’s offering – Carrot Nut.

The recipe

Beat in a large bowl

1 cup white sugar

3/4 cup oil

2 eggs

Add 1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1 tbsp. warm water and 1 tsp. vanilla

Sift together and add to the wet mixture

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

To the well-mixed batter, add

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup walnuts

Bake at 375F for 20 minutes. Makes 15 large muffins.

The process

I screwed up pretty early on with this one; I dissolved the baking powder in the warm water, rather than the baking soda. Science! If you put baking powder in warm water it foams & fizzes in a most enjoyable fashion. Because I’d already added the baking powder to the wet ingredients, I just sifted the baking soda in with the flour instead.

I have no idea what impact this had on the finished product, if any.

One large carrot yielded just over a cup, grated. I didn’t peel it first, just washed it well.

I doubled the vanilla because I’ve had so many issues with Dorothy’s muffins being bland.

The finished batter had a very strange consistency; it was very thick, almost glossy, and quite heavy. This may have been because of the baking powder / soda mixup.

The recipe suggests baking for 15 – 20 minutes; at 15 minutes these were nowhere near done, so check them carefully.

The result

The muffins rose beautifully and had lovely rounded tops. They smelled very appetizing indeed, and were a pleasing orangey-yellow colour.

Unfortunately the Curse of Bland Muffins hit yet again. They were OK, but nothing special. For my birthday Michael made me a carrot cake that tasted like angels, or something – it has cinnamon and nutmeg too, if I recall correctly, and adding those spices to this recipe would make a world of difference.

The mouth feel was a bit odd, in a way I can’t really describe; these muffins were halfway between dense and light, and it felt like the sugar hadn’t completely dissolved, or something.

I wasn’t thrilled, and Michael agreed that they were just ‘alright’.

I suspect the kids will like them, though, and they are loaded full of carrots, so they’d be fine for a snack or as part of breakfast. Sadly they can’t go in school lunches, because of the nuts.

I think with a bit of tinkering, these could be a simple, kid-friendly recipe. Also, I’m curious to hear what kind of results you careful people who don’t mix up the leavening agents get.

Next week

Pioneer Muffins. I’ve been dreading this one a bit because Dorothy has included several variations within the body of the recipe, and deciphering the various options is going to be confusing.

You will need to have:

  • molasses
  • natural bran
  • carrots, applesauce OR mashed banana OR pureed fruit
  • milk OR apple juice
  • wheat germ
  • powdered milk
  • raisins OR walnuts

See? Crazy town. Also it looks like it will make a gigantic batch of… something. We’re all in this together, people.

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.