Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Great Grains Muffins

I'm really digging muffins these days. They're easy to make, quick and easy to eat in the mornings between wakeup time and first nap time and they give me the feeling that I'm back in the kitchen. Or, back in the kitchen without spending hours and hours slaving over a hot stove.

Last night I decided to whip up a batch of Great Grains muffins from Dorie Greenspan's Baking:From My Home to Yours. This is big for me. They contain no chocolate. None. Not even a bit. And they were quick and easy to throw together. I even made it through assembling the dry ingredients wearing Quinn. But then he'd had it with baking, and it was time to start bedtime. So I recommend this recipe for its ease and simplicity, as well as being baby wearing friendly.

The muffins were sweet, but not overly so. They had a nice crumb, and both M. and I enjoyed one with our breakfasts this morning. I had a feeling M. would really like these muffins (as he is not as big a fan of chocolate as I am) and he was quite pleased with the finished result. I added raisins and sliced dried apricots to my muffins, and thought the combo was good. But cranberries would work, as would any other dried fruit (or nut if you like nuts in baked goods) combo. I also used fat free buttermilk.

Great Grains Muffins
from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 stick
unsalted butter, melte
d and cooled
3/4 cup quartered, moist, plump prunes or other dried fruit and/or nuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter or spray a muffin tin.

In a large bowl, whish together the flours, cornmeal, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, maple syrup, eggs, and melted butter. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and gently, but quickly stir together. Don’t worry about being thorough — if the batter is lumpy, that’s fine. Stir in the fruit or nuts, if you are using them. Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the tops are gold and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then carefully lift each muffin out of its mold and onto the rack to cool.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Root Beer Bundt Cake

One of my favorite things about going to Baked is never knowing what cakes will be offered that day. There are usually three cakes available for purchasing by the slice, and the offerings change daily. I can go craving one cake, but if isn't available that day then I'm FORCED to try something new. Which, as a creature of habit is probably a good thing for me. :)

On one of our trips, M. tried the coca cola bundt cake. He was really taken with it, and asked me to research a recipe so we could make it at home. Well, that never happened. But when I saw the root beer bundt in the Baked cookbook, I decided it would be the perfect dessert for a dinner party we had this weekend. It could be made in advance, and ready to go at the conclusion of the meal. I learned the hard way recently that this is key, particularly these days with babies being a baking factor. I did debate swapping the root beer for coke (which I will do in the future) but we both decided we'd try the "authentic" version first.

The cake was easy to prepare, although it doesn't use a mixer. The wet ingredients (including the root beer) are heated on the stove, and then the dry ingredients are mixed in. The recipe cautions over-mixing. Accordingly, I was very careful not to over-mix. So careful that I actually undermixed and my cake was studded with pockets of flour. Oops. Next time I'll mix a little harder, and not worry so much about it. But the results were still delicious, if a little unusual to the eye. There was also a lot of frosting to this cake. I happen to LOVE frosting, but if you are not such a big fan then I would recommend cutting the glaze recipe in half. I also really liked how easy the glaze was to make - the recipe called for making it in the food processor. A bit unconventional, but oh so quick and easy to whip up!

Overall, the cake was well received by all and the leftovers are still sitting and taunting me as I write. Very very dangerous. :)

Root Beer Bundt Cake
for 1 (10-inch) Bundt cake
From Baked: New Frontiers In Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

for the cake:

2 cups root beer (do not use diet root beer)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs

for the frosting:
2 ounces dark chocolate (60% cacao), melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup root beer
2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray; alternatively, butter it, dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.

In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder, and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten, then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter will be slightly lumpy–do not overbeat, as it could cause the cake to be tough.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a small sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto a platter.

For the frosting:

Put all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until the frosting is shiny and smooth.

Use a spatula to spread the fudge frosting over the crown of the Bundt in a thick layer. Let the frosting set before serving, with the ice cream on the side.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

I won't tell you when I actually made these muffins. We'll just leave it at it wasn't yesterday, or even this week. Sigh. Getting back into the swing of blogging is harder then I thought. But I am determined to get there ... one day.

All the internet is abuzz with the recent publication of Baked:New Frontiers in Baking. I'm quite spoiled, the bakery Baked is about a twenty minute walk down the road from my apartment. Strolling down to choose a treat has become a new favorite weekend activity. As a result, I'm continually expanding my repertoire of tasty treats and am thrilled so many are included in the cookbook. Their layer cakes are delicious, and I look forward to trying a few at home in the near future. We sampled a slice of the Lemon Drop last weekend, and were quite pleased with the results.

I made this recipe pretty much as is. I did measure espresso from a cup of espresso, but added a bit more. I usually do that as I'm too lazy to stock espresso powder when we have an espresso machine at home. I thought the coffee taste was present but subtle in these muffins, so if you like a stronger flavor you might want to amp the flavor up a bit. These muffins are moist and sweet, and I've kept a few in the freezer for those mornings when I need a bit more of a boost. I got a yield of 16 muffins, however I noted these muffins didn't rise overly much. When I make them again, I might get 12 as I will know I can fill the cups a little bit more then I did this time. And there will be a next time I make these muffins. Banana, chocolate, coffee - how can you go wrong?

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins
From Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

1 1/2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas (about 4)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp instant espresso powder (I used liquid espresso, and increased to 1 tablespoon)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, stir together the bananas, sugars, butter, milk, and egg.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, instant espresso powder,baking soda and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Fill each cup about 3/4 full. Bake in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.
Let the muffins cool on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Then remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to finish cooling on the cooling rack. Store up to 2 days in an airtight container.