Thursday, March 11, 2010

Magnificent Muffins

3/3/10 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

Magnificent Muffins

Oh, yum. Who doesn’t like a fresh, warm muffin for breakfast on a cold winter’s day? In the Bed and Breakfast business, I learned that our guests appreciated almost any variety of muffin with their breakfast entrée, as long as it was homemade and hot out of the oven.

The origin of muffins is a little murky but it seems that English muffins go way back to the 10th or 11th century in Wales. They were a yeast raised dough cooked on a hot griddle in hooplike rings. The result was a soft, round product with nooks and crannies to hold butter and honey or jam. Sort of like today’s “Thomas’ English Muffins.”

Colonial Americans changed things up a bit. Whereas the English muffin was yeast dough, the Americans came up with a batter that they cooked in individual molds. The plain, basic batter was leavened with potash, a pre-curser to baking powder. Fruit and nuts were added a couple of centuries later!

It’s hard to make a bad muffin. They’re quick, simple and tasty. But they do need to be eaten fresh. It’s best to wrap and freeze any leftovers. Then, you can pop them in the microwave with a sprinkle of water and they’ll be edible (but still day-old).

Muffin batter is very flexible. So if you decide that the fat content is too high, you can reduce it by half and add an equal amount of applesauce. Those worried about cholesterol from the eggs can use egg whites or a commercial egg substitute. Another good substitute is golden raisins instead of the usual black variety. The goldens are softer and prettier in the finished product.

I also like to add a streusel topping or a bit of frosting to some muffins. Instead of flour, I often pour 1/4 cup melted butter over a mixture of 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Another citrusy topping is to boil the juice of 1-2 oranges with 1 powdered cup sugar. Let it cool slightly and spoon 1 tablespoon over the top of still warm muffins.

One of my favorite muffin recipes comes from a girl in my 5th grade church youth group. I had 45 girls in this group and one quarter we were studying cooking. One evening Su-z brought me this great (and now well-known) recipe for All Bran muffins. She told me to mix up a huge batch of batter and it would be good for weeks. She was right.

I recently searched through my recipe files and Su-z’s recipe was still there after 35 years. I’m offering it just as she wrote it. The “Goodbye Applesauce Muffins” I served one morning for a B & B couple. The Morning Glorious recipe is an offshoot of the famous Morning Glory muffins but I substituted dates for the raisins. All cooking times are approximate depending on the size of your muffin tins. Don’t over-bake but test with a toothpick to be sure they’re done. Enjoy!

All Bran Muffins
Su-z Searer

Mix in a BIG bowl!!
Pour 2 cups boiling water over 4 cups All Bran Cereal. Cool slightly.
Add to cooled cereal and mix well:
3 cups sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
4 beaten eggs
Sift together and set aside
5 cups flour
5 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon salt

Add flour mixture to cereal mixture alternately with 1 quart buttermilk. Then stir in one cup each of raisins and chopped walnuts.
Preheat oven to 400° F. Bake in greased muffin tins or paper muffin cups 20-25 minutes.
Note: Refrigerate unused batter in covered container. It will keep for 6 weeks. This really is a large recipe.

Good-Bye Applesauce Muffins

Mix together and set aside:
1-1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each allspice and cloves
In another bowl, mix together and let stand 5 minutes:
2 beaten eggs
1 grated carrot
1-1/2 cups bran flakes
1-1/2 cups applesauce
Cream together in mixer:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oil

Preheat oven to 400° F.
Alternately add applesauce mixture and flour mixture to butter and sugar in mixer. Mix until all ingredients are evenly moist. Spoon into greased muffin pans. Bake 15-20 minutes.

Morning Glorious Muffins

2 beaten eggs
1 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups carrot, shredded
1-1/2 cups apple, shredded
3/4 cup coconut
1/2 cup dates, snipped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 cups flour
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375° F.
Spray 12 large (3-inch) muffin tins with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine fruits and nuts (carrot, apple, coconut, dates and pecan). Set aside. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda and cinnamon). In mixer bowl, combine beaten eggs, oil and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix until moist. Lightly stir in fruit and nut mixture. Bake 18-20 min.

Cranberry Nut Muffins

1/-1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon orange peel
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven 2o 400° F.
Spray 12 (2-1/2 inch) muffin cups with cooking spray.

In medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In large bowl, blend eggs, corn syrup, milk, oil and orange peel; stir in flour mixture just until moistened. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spoon into prepared muffin cups. Bake 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned and firm to touch. Cool in pan 5 minutes; remove from pan. Serve warm.

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal with Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner

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