Monday, November 16, 2009

Sweetness and Light Muffins

Baking is not my forte but I've never had a batch of these muffins fail, and the recipe comes with variations that make it very versatile. It's from the Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread: A Country Inn Cookbook; and the pages are a mess with spilled ingredients from the many, many times I've used this recipe. I'm going to give you the basic recipe and then follow up with some of their variations, along with my favorite which I altered from the book (which just goes to show you can pretty much do what you want with the basic recipe).

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like your muffins)
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I just use ground nutmeg)
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled (I use Canola oil instead)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper liners.
In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients.
In a smaller bowl whisk together milk, butter (or oil), egg and vanilla.
Add wet ingredients to dry, combine with as few strokes as possible -- just until ingredients are incorporated.
If you like, fold in additional ingredients as mentioned in Variation Options.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling to 1/2 to 2/3 full.
Bake until golden, about 15-20 minutes.
Cool briefly on racks until the smell and hunger pains drive you to eat at least one while piping hot.

Peach and Nut: Add a drop of almond extract to wet ingredients. Add 3 diced peaches and 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts to batter.
Ginger-Pear-Walnut: Add 2 partially mashed, diced pears, 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger root and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts to batter.
Cranberry Nut: Use larger amount of sugar in basic recipe. Add 1 cup chopped cranberries and 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts to batter. You can also add 1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest.
PiƱa Colada: Use smaller amount of sugar in basic recipe. Replace 1/4 cup milk with 1/4 cup thawed frozen pineapple juice concentrate mixed with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Add this to wet ingredients, then mix with dry ingredients. Add 1/2 - 3/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (how about macadamias?) and, if you want, 3/4 cup diced fresh pineapple to the batter.
Banana-Chocolate Chip: (my personal favorite and the one I make most often) Add 2 mashed bananas,  1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/2 cup (at least) chocolate chips to batter.

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