Friday, December 9, 2011

Pumpkin Orange Cranberry Muffins

Fall and early winter are the ultimate baking times of the year!  I grew up in a family that baked cookies and breads to give away as Christmas presents.  The recipe I've created below is an adaption of my mom's famous "Christmas pumpkin bread."  I don't know the origins of the recipe, but it is truly delicious.

The inspiration for this variation came from not having had enough pumpkin yet this year, a bag cranberries in the freezer leftover from this cake I made for Thanksgiving, and two very special guests coming for lunch all the way from Africa.  Can I say I was giddy when I tasted the batter only to realize that orange and pumpkin are a match made in heaven?


Pumpkin Orange Cranberry Muffins
Note: you can bake this is one standard loaf pan, 1 12 cup muffin pan, or whatever you like.  I chose a jumbo 6 muffin pan.  Who doesn't like an extra large muffin?

1 cup pumpkin puree (half of a 16oz. can)
2 TBL + 2 tsp fresh squeezed orange juice
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup + 1 TBL oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup + 2 TBL whole wheat pastry flour (or all purpose)
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, separated
Turbinado sugar for finishing (or regular if you don't have this)

1.  A little prep: zest your orange, squeeze out the juice, slice each cranberry in half, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease the pan of your choosing.
2. Combine the pumpkin, orange juice and zest, oil, vanilla, and eggs until well combined.
3. Combine dry ingredients and stir into pumpkin mixture until just blended. Fold in 1 cup of the halved cranberries.
4. Pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup halved cranberries, then sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar.  Bake until tops spring back in the middle when gently pressed (will vary greatly depending on your pan/loaf size. Use google if you need an estimate).
5. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan, and cool on rack.

Yield: 1 standard loaf or 1 dozen muffins or 6 jumbo muffins

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Oatmeal Cherry Muffins

I am in love. Hello, scrumptious oat muffins! These are delectable, moist and lightly sweetened, with a delicious oat crumble topping. I adapted the recipe from Heidi at 101Cookbooks. I am once again guilty of adapting something before even trying the original, however I would recommend trying the basic version and coming up with your own adaptions! You'll have to excuse the way I switch around between ounces and grams. It works in my brain somehow. If you want volume measurements, just see the original recipe. Enjoy!

Oatmeal Cherry Muffins
Changes from original: I altered the amounts to make exactly 1 dozen muffins (with only a little bit of leftover crumble), added cherries, and extracts. I didn't include "almond" in the title because all I did was add a hint to complement the cherries. If you want a more pronounced almond flavor, try adding finely chopped blanched almonds to the crumble topping. If you don't want to be left with only a tad extra crumble, then simply make the whole amount (double this), and then you'll have plenty to freeze for later use. :)

Crumble topping:
1.5 oz whole wheat pastry flour
0.75 oz cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1.25 oz brown sugar
1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt (if using table salt, you should use a scant 1/4 tsp)
1.25 oz unsalted butter, melted

Muffin batter:
67 grams rolled oats (not quick cooking)
67 grams unbleached all purpose flour
67 grams whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 tsp baking soda
scant 1/3 tsp fine grain sea salt
134 grams unsalted butter
47 grams brown sugar
8 oz (ounces!) plain yogurt - I accidentally measured this by weight, not fluid ounces, but it came out, so I wouldn't worry either way.
1 egg, whisked
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pitted sweet cherries, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease muffin pan (no need for liners - mine popped out easily). Place racks in top third of oven.

Prep cherries.

Use a fork to combine the flour, oats, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter. Form into a patty, wrap, and freeze for about ten minutes.

In a large bowl combine the oats, flours, baking soda, and sea salt. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Whisk in the yogurt, and then the eggs and extracts. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir just until combined. Gently fold in cherries. Do not over mix.

Pour the batter into the muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full (tip: I find using my large cookie scoop is perfect for the job!). Take the crumble from the freezer, crumble it, and sprinkle on top of each muffin. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool just a minute or so, then turn out onto a cooling rack (Heidi says: important! And I agree. :) )

Yield: 1 dozen muffins

Monday, May 23, 2011

Zucchini bread using Amish Friendship Bread starter

I recently received my first Amish Friendship Bread starter. It's like a sourdough starter, except it's sweet, and the recipe traditionally handed out with it is really more for a cake than a bread. I've had the version that came with it and it's scrumptious (almond poppy seed), but I wanted to try something less sweet and rich and use up some ingredients that were sitting in the fridge. I discovered online a few different variations of the recipe, settled on one, and adapted it to my needs. The result? One of the best zucchini breads I've had. Whenever I've done the "use yogurt and less sugar and whole wheat flour" route in a quick bread, I've had mediocre results. But having a starter improves the flavor and adds moisture. So, I'd say it was a success!

Amish Friendship Zucchini Bread

A note on the starter: the instructions that came with the starter have you feeding it just before using it. I decided against this, as it seemed the starter would have maximum flavor without the feeding to dilute it (a suggested by other bloggers). One can just feed it afterwards, split, and share with others.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup stone ground whole wheat flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp cloves

1 tsp salt

1 cup AFB starter

3 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup 2% Greek yogurt

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cup shredded zucchini (or carrot for a carrot version)

1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Opt: Cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 9x5 loaf pans (mine came out rather flat. Maybe put the whole batter into one 9x5, or make muffins)

2. Sift together dry ingredients.

3. In large mixing bowl combine starter, eggs, oil, yogurt, and vanilla. Beat for a minute or two to aerate. Add dry ingredients gradually and mix until just blended. Stir in shredded zucchini and nuts. Divide batter evenly between pans. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar to your liking (opt).

4. Bake 35 min or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The ultimate chocolate peppermint cake

This was the most intense cake I've ever made. It was also one of the most delicious. Normally, I'm not a huge cake person, so I'm fairly selective with recipes I undertake. And usually my handy dandy husband helps (in this case, he was the awesome assembler). :)

I am also proud of this cake because, despite the many warnings and concerns among the reviewers on, I felt like the whole thing was a great success. More on that later.

For now, pictures!!

First, the components:

1. Dark Chocolate Ganache (yes, that is a finger mark)
2. Peppermint Marshmallowy Frosting
3. White chocolate peppermint whipped cream
4. Devil's Food Cake

Second, the assembly:

The final delicious and gigantic product: