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.

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Chunky Apple

All yesterday evening, I had this nagging feeling that I was forgetting something. Chores? No, they were as done as they needed to be. Lunches packed? Yup. Kids to soccer on time? Done.

I finally shrugged it off and spent two hours texting back and forth with my youngest sister, only to have a Twitter friend point out that what I’d forgotten was muffins.

Oops.

Anyway, I think I’d forgotten them accidentally-on-purpose, because I was not looking forward to this recipe at all. It just didn’t sound very good from the recipe, and I wasn’t really motivated to try them.

However, I got back on track this morning, making them in my new KitchenAid stand mixer named Igor, which is like taking a bazooka to a knife fight but whatever, the wire whisk attachment for beating eggs makes me happy.

The recipe

Beat

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tbsp. cream (the recipe didn’t specify so I used 10% – blend or half-and-half)

Stir into oil mixture

1 1/2 cups peeled chopped apples

1/2 cup raisins

Sift into oil mixture and stir to blend

1 cup all-purpose OR whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat)

3/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Top with cinnamon-sugar.

375F for 20 minutes. Makes 10 muffins.

The process

Because I left this until this morning, and because I really needed something for dayhome snack, I ended up doing this one with an almost-5yo, an almost-3yo, and a 2.5yo helping me. They promptly got incredibly bored and fidgety while I peeled and chopped three medium-sized apples. The whole time I was peeling and chopping, I was thinking of last week’s Blender Apple recipe and wondering why in god’s name anyone would make a muffin with apple chunks when they could whiz their way to happiness in their blender.

Otherwise this was very straightforward. It made a tiny amount of insanely chunky batter. Like, scoops of it held their shape because it was half chunks. I ended up with more than enough batter for an even dozen muffins, too.

I baked these for the full twenty minutes… at least… because my oven is on another floor of the house and I’m pretty sure the timer was going off for a minute or two while I was trapped in the bathroom with a potty-training child.

The result

Because of the probable over-baking, these are very brown. They also didn’t get rise much at all, although given all the chunks this is hardly surprising.

I tasted one in the interests of science and I didn’t like it at all. The texture turned me off completely. It was granular (because of the whole wheat flour, no doubt); chunky (as advertised); with rather too-moist bits around the raisins. It was just… too much. This muffin was too much of everything, and I didn’t like it at all.

The kids, on the other hand, thought it was just fine. Apples! Raisins! IT’S A MUFFIN! And with the whole wheat this one is really pretty good for you, especially if you swapped the vegetable oil for canola or even applesauce.

I wouldn’t make this one again, but maybe it will work for you. If you make it with all-purpose flour, let me know in the comments what you think.

Applesauce Raisin

I have been dreading this recipe because ugh, raisins. I hate raisins. Always have. Even as kid, I spurned what my mom insisted on calling “nature’s candy”. No, mom. Sugar cane is nature’s candy. Or maple syrup. Raisins are merely disappointed grapes. Baked, they are even worse.

However, I can’t start making changes to recipes before I’ve tried them at least once, so I bought a bag of raisins. Sultanas. And I mixed them into the biggest freakin’ vat of batter that any recipe in the book has made so far, because of course the recipe with the one ingredient I truly cannot stand would make an enormous batch.

The recipe

Beat slightly

4 eggs

Add to eggs and beat thoroughly

2 cups white sugar

1 1/2 cups oil (I used canola)

1 3/4 cups applesance (I used unsweetened & unflavoured applesauce)

Sift together

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

Add dry to wet and blend until smooth.

Stir in

2 cups raisins

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and sprinkle brown sugar on batter. (The 2/3 is underlined in the original version.)

375F, 15-20 minutes. Makes 32 large muffins.

The process

The only thing about this recipe was the sheer size – I needed to use my largest mixing bowl. So be warned – this really does make a LOT of batter, especially as compared to every other recipe we’ve tried so far.

Take my advice and do not try to fill the cups beyond that 2/3. These muffins rise quite a bit.

They smell really good while baking – a tablespoon of cinnamon! Also, the batter itself tastes sweet and as a result I was quite sad as I mixed in the damnable raisins. I will likely take NotMaryP’s suggestion and make another batch with dried cranberries.

The result

The muffins browned quite a bit; they weren’t done at 15 minutes but 20 minutes seemed to give them a bit more colour than I would have expected from a white-flour recipe. I don’t know that the brown sugar on top adds much, but maybe I used too light a hand.

The muffin itself tasted GOOD – there is finally enough cinnamon to make me a happy girl. And actually the raisins weren’t horrible, although the raisin taste went all through it and as I was chewing I kept thinking “man, these would be really excellent without raisins”. So Dorothy hasn’t converted me to baked raisins, but I did eat a whole muffin and didn’t feel the need to pick the raisins out like a toddler.

For a family needing lunchbox snacks, this is an ideal recipe, because it’s quick & easy to make and yields plenty. I’d recommend it for that reason alone.

Next week

I’m skipping ahead in the book a little for the next couple of weeks, because there are two Christmas recipes and I want to get to them at the appropriate time. So next week will be “Christmas Cake”. Ingredients that you likely will need to purchase specially – I know I do – are:

1/3 cup mixed peel

1/3 cup chopped candied cherries

1/3 cup chopped nuts

1 cup all-bran cereal (I’ll be using plain bran)