Saturday, December 09, 2006

Whole Grain Muffins

Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

Dorie Greenspan has written many cookbooks with famous names in the world of food, but I think this is her first just for herself. As the title implies, the book is about her favorite recipes, the ones she makes for herself, family, and friends. Breakfast sweets, cookies, cakes, pies, tarts, and "spoon desserts" -- puddings, crisps, and such.

Each recipe has a little intro about its uses, its history, or cooking tips. The directions are very detailed -- I think this would be a great book for a new cook interested in learning how to bake.

We tried Tartest Lemon Tart for Thanksgiving (you grind up one and a half lemons in a blender with eggs, sugar, etc) for a tart with a jelly-like filling, very different from the usual lemon meringue. Excellent.

This week, I browsed the breakfast section, looking for ideas for the holidays. Instead, I made something much simpler. The Great Grains Muffins have only 1/3 c cornmeal (I used a coarse, stone-ground variety), yet the cornmeal shines through, in the slightly sandy texture, and even the look of the muffin tops. These are not icky-sweet -- the maple syrup comes across more as a fragrance than a taste. I had dried apricots on hand, so I diced them up -- actually, cut them with kitchen scissors -- much easier than using a knife to cut sticky dried fruit. Each chewy apricot bite really shone with sweetness against the hearty muffin.

Great Grains Muffins
1 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c whole wheat flour
1/3 c yellow cornmeal
1/3 c old-fashioned oats
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 c maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 c quartered moist dried prunes or other dried fruits and/or chopped nuts.

Dorie Greenspan gives extensive, detailed directions -- boiled down here.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter or spray 12 cups of regular-size muffin pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. In separate bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients. Pour liquid into dry and gently stir just to blend; batter will be lumpy; don't overmix. Stir in dried fruit and nuts, if using.

Divide among muffin cups and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on rack for 5 minutes, then remove muffins and place on rack to cool.

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