Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What's a Muffin?

Blackberry Muffins
What is a muffin?
Since cake batter baked in muffin tins is cupcakes, then what is quick bread baked in a muffin tin - quick cups? Somehow that doesn't sound right. Yet, what is it then? I doubt I'm the first to do it - to bake quick breads in muffin tins, I mean. Without cable or satellite television and living in a remote area, I haven't heard of anyone else doing it. It doesn't mean thousands aren't.

So, what does make a muffin a muffin? It definitely isn't the pan you bake it in. Maybe, it is the way you mix the ingredients. With muffins they are usually done with the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another and then gently folded together until just moist. Yet, the chocolate cherry muffin recipe from the William and Sonoma cookbook drifts a bit from that theory. Couple the changes I made to their recipe, and I may not be making chocolate cherry muffins at all. It could be a quick bread. Those who know me are snickering. I know, I can't leave a recipe alone. I'd like to think it is because I enjoy leaving my own signature on the dish. But, the truth is most of the time a recipe is altered because I hate to go shopping, so, I improvise with what I have in my pantry.

Why am I bothering about muffins and quick breads, your wondering? My husband takes one with a yogurt each morning for work. Not waffles, crepes or anything else will do. I know, I've tried. A souffle does sneak by once in a while.

So, to stale my own boredom, I search out new recipes. He now takes a variety of quick cups shall we say: lemon blueberry; coconut; chocolate with maraschino cherries; pumpkin; cinnamon struesel swirl; banana chocolate chip; and poppy seed quick bread in a muffin shape. To save time, I make up a couple different batches and freeze them. They last a few weeks and then I make a couple other varieties. With this many, it is several months before Kirk is eating the lemon blueberry ones again. He hasn't complained but I'm bored with the list and have decided to make muffins in muffin tins, a novel idea - for me.


So the night before last, I went to allrecipes.com and yesterday made their Date Flecked Orange Muffins - kind of. I didn't have an orange so I substituted one can of Madarin oranges in the fifteen ounce size, drained of course. A...nd, I didn't have chopped pitted dates. I had dried date pieces so I substituted those instead. The recipe has a five star rating - theirs, not mine, for we have yet to judge the results. Since Kirk will have to eat the bulk of them, his vote counts the most.

I want to try several more of their recipes like apple pumpkin and carrot apple. I'm thinking pineapple sound good to add to the carrot apple muffin recipe. What do you think? They'll have to wait since, I've beets to can and Kirk has twelve muffins to eat which includes the blackberry muffins from simplyrecipes.com.


One of Kirk's favorites is banana bread muffins, chocked full of miniature chocolate chips. In preparation for these I throw over ripe bananas in the freezer. When I'm ready to make bread, I thaw them and peel off the skin. They are a bit runny and mushy, which is perfect.

The recipe is from a church cookbook. Okay, the original recipe was from a church cookbook. It underwent a dramatic makeover a number of years ago. Partly due to the fact that I use once frozen bananas and the need to mix chocolate with that and ...

Banana Bread
1 cup nuts
4 bananas (thawed)
1 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
3 cups flour
1/2 cup shortening or butter (if using butter, do not melt first)
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon soda

Mix the egg, shortening or butter, sugar, soda, and salt, then add milk, bananas, and when mixed, stir in flour. Then again you may want to do it your way. Bake at 350 until done. (I rarely time anything as I depend on my nose to tell me they're cooked. It only fails me on the third batch of cookies to go into the oven when it becomes confused by the heavily scented air.)

Kirk just called. His comment on the Date Flecked Orange Muffins - "They weren't much." Surprise, for though I had only tasted a corner of one, it was pretty good. Was I mistaken or was this one of those he doesn't like but I do recipes? I tried one. Yum! It was the ginger spice that turned him off. On the other hand our children will adore these muffins as anything with a gingerbread like flavor is a hit with them.

As for Kirk, he hasn't seen the last of this recipe. I'll leave out the ginger next time and um... I'll have to think on this one a while. I wonder if he got past the flavor to notice the lighter texture of the muffin verses the quick breads he usually eats? I'll have to ask because it was a nice change.

What is for sure is that whether it is muffins or quick bread in a muffin shape, they're here to stay. We've used them for hunting, work, early morning trips, and snacks. They are a part of our quick meal plan.

I'll tell you on Friday what the judge had to say about the blackberry muffins.

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