Archive for the 'Bread' Category

Blueberry Sour Cream Cardamom Muffins

Blueberry Sour Cream Cardamom Muffins

One of my proudest accomplishments while on maternity leave was managing to whip up moderately complicated recipes when June was napping. While I usually find cooking under pressure a little stressful, I loved how these kitchen challenges kept me on my toes and put my organizational skills to the test (Hello, mise-en-place!). Or maybe I was too sleep deprived to think clearly…

One of the most delectable baking-while-the-baby’s-napping creations were these Blueberry Sour Cream Cardamom Muffins. The original recipe by Eugenia Bone for Food & Wine magazine calls for cinnamon in the streusel topping and lemon zest in the batter; however, I swapped both out in favor of the warm, sweet scent of cardamom. The spice pairs beautifully with blueberries and makes streusel sing.

I didn’t manage to capture my usual step-by-step photos (that would’ve been too ambitious an endeavor), but this muffin doesn’t require much hand-holding. “Dry” ingredients are combined with “wet” ones (some lumps are a good thing), streusel is prepared and sprinkled on top, and everything is baked until done. Eat ’em warm from the oven, or if you’re in a similar boat, while the baby’s down for a nap.

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Meyer Lemon Muffins

Meyer Lemon Muffins

Winter citrus fruits are flourishing throughout Southern California, and for the first time ever, the season’s bounty is blooming right on our front porch. The Astronomer’s parents gifted us the most adorable dwarf Meyer lemon tree when they visited last spring, and after nurturing it through the summer and into fall, it finally bore fruit that we could pluck and enjoy this winter.

While I’ve tasted Meyer lemons in various dishes at restaurants, I never fully understood the complexity of their flavor until I actually cooked and baked with them. Not only is Meyer lemon juice sweeter, but it also has an indescribable and distinct tang that makes it wholly unique.

Our first harvest inspired The Astronomer to whip up a delectable shrimp puri puri. And several week later, I had to bake these Meyer lemon muffins after spotting the recipe in the Los Angeles Times.

Lemon-flavored muffin recipes usually call for just juice and zest, like these lemon ricotta muffins that I love, but this recipe calls for the whole shebang—juice, zest, pith, and all. The result is a truly moist muffin that’s studded with lemon pieces and laced with a slight bitterness. A sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar on the top of each one successfully mellows the lemon’s astringent notes.

It’s worthwhile to seek out Meyer lemons for this recipe because I find that their flavor, as compared to regular lemons, is different enough that something would be lost by substituting one for the other. Experiencing Meyer lemons in full effect is a must for all citrus lovers.

  • 9 ounces all-purpose flour (2 cups)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Meyer lemons, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Meyer Lemon Muffins

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the flour, 1 cup sugar, the baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Meyer Lemon Muffins

Cut two lemons into 1-inch pieces. Put them in a blender and pulse until the lemon is finely chopped. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the milk, butter and chopped lemon. Stir.

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Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread

Being married to a cinnamon lover means that I’m constantly on the lookout for both sweet and savory recipes that call for an abundance of the fragrant spice. When I stumbled upon Monkey Bread in this month’s Cooking Light, I immediately ran into the kitchen to see if I had all the ingredients on hand. After baking my share of snickerdoodles and cinnamon rolls, I was excited to try a cinnamon-laced sweet that was completely out of the ordinary.

Whereas traditional Monkey Bread is made from canned biscuits, this healthier version builds a base from scratch using a combination of all-purpose and whole wheat flours. Waiting for the dough to rise two times will test one’s will and patience, but the end result is certain to make it all worth while.

Monkey Bread is an indulgent marriage of sticky buns and doughnut holes. Served hot out of the oven, it’s a gooey, golden, and unabashedly sweet affair. While it may be civilized to eat it with a fork and knife, I prefer to monkey around with my fingers, pulling each nub apart, slowly and deliberately. Monkey Bread is the ultimate brunch time centerpiece.

  • 13 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
  • 4 3/4 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package quick-rise yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup very warm fat-free milk (120° to 130°)
  • 1/4 cup very warm orange juice (120° to 130°)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons fat-free milk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Monkey Bread

Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached; mix until combined. With mixer on, slowly add 1 cup milk, juice, honey, and 2 tablespoons butter; mix dough at medium speed 7 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Monkey Bread

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

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Lemon Ricotta Muffins

Lemon Ricotta Muffins

I am having a terrific time baking my way through Cooking Light’s feature on “Munchable Muffins” from the May 2011 issue. I was quite smitten with the first batch of Pistachio Chai Muffins, and the Corn Muffins with Bacon, Cheddar, and Jalapeno that followed them were surprisingly even better.

As soon as The Astronomer and I returned and recovered from our recent travels across the country, I was ready to bake up batch number three. It turns out that the pleasure of biting into a tender muffin, hot from the oven, can be quite addicting.

These lemon ricotta muffins were part of a brunch spread that we prepared for our friends last Sunday. I usually never serve a yet-to-be-tested recipe to guests, but decided to take a chance since the other muffins turned out so superbly. Thankfully, my logic was sound in this case.

Just like the muffins that proceeded them, the texture of these was fantastic. It’s incredible how soft of a crumb can be achieved by only lightly combining the dry and wet ingredients. Flavor-wise, the combination of zest and juice imparted a bright lemony essence. My favorite element was the muffin tops, which were generously sprinkled with coarse turbinado sugar. The crunch and caramelization elevated the muffins from great to amazing.

  • 7 9/10 ounces all-purpose flour (1 3/4 cups)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Lemon Ricotta Muffins

Preheat oven to 375°. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt); make a well in center.

Lemon Ricotta Muffins

Combine ricotta and next 5 ingredients (through egg). Add ricotta mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

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