I must confess that I’ve made and photographed several recipes over the past month, but I’ve been too lazy to upload and post them. I like to tweak most of my pictures in Photoshop. Unfortunately, Photoshop makes me laptop run SUPER SLOW, which makes me SUPER ANGRY, and since I’m not suppose to take anxiety medication while breastfeeding, I procrastinate things that make me want to chunk expensive electronics across the room. As a compromise, I’m going to post unedited pictures. (Oh the humanity!)
Several years ago I decided I wanted to open a muffin shop and spent quite a bit of time designing a logo, menu, and concept to my store. (Chris even had the logo printed on a apron for me when we were dating. He’s got some crazy awesome wooing skills.) Despite the plethora of hours spent planning, the only result was a steady stream of muffin cookbooks given to me as gifts. Don’t get me wrong though. I loved receiving them. However, there is only so many ways to make a blueberry muffin, and I’m pretty sure I have the recipe for all of them.
Since muffins aren’t exactly figure friendly, I won’t be making them very often so it might be a while before I find my favorite recipe. On the bright side, muffins generally freeze well, and this will be an excellent opportunity to find the right recipes for the hypothetical muffin shop. I thought I’d start out with Muffins by Gemma Reece (She was wildly creative with her book title.) and her cranberry muffins. I actually whipped these babies up about a week before Thanksgiving. We were taking a day off from our dieting to celebrate the holiday, and I wanted to have a special breakfast treat that was lighter than eggs and bacon and required no additional cooking since I was already making 3 pies, 2 pans of stuffing, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and peas and artichokes.
I love that grocery stores stock fresh cranberries around the holidays. They are so much better than the canned version, and homemade sauce is easy to do. Thankfully, someone else made the sauce for our Thanksgiving dinner, but I still picked up two bags when I did my holiday shopping. (They freeze well too.) I thought I’d make use of them in the muffins.
Here’s the ingredients. (The little red bowl is salt.)
One interesting thing about this cookbook is it’s origin. It’s from England. The measurements are listed in English measuring units (England actually uses the metric system. The U.S. uses the English unit. It’s confusing I know.), but the recipe calls for some hard to find ingredients, like superfine sugar. Like the name suggests, superfine sugar is finer than our typical granulated, but it’s not as fine as confectioner’s sugar. It’s used by bartenders in cocktails because it dissolves faster, and it’s found in light and uncooked recipes like meringues and souffles.
I did look in several stores for superfine sugar, but in the end, I had to make it myself in the food processor. Having no experience with superfine sugar, I had to guess at the coarse. The whole point of the finer sugar is to make the batter have a smoother texture, but it’s not overly important in a baked bread.
Here’s all the dry ingredients. Nothing overly exciting to report here. I did sift my flour. After all, what would be the point of pulverizing my sugar if I was just going to mix it would clumpy flour? It did remind me that my sifter sucks so I ordered a new one this week.
At this time, I’d like to take a moment to encourage you to hug your microwave today. Some of you guys might remember a time before microwaves, but I have been fortunate enough to always have a microwave. Well, I did until mine died the week of Thanksgiving. At first I thought, “Ha! I can live without one!” But that change when I had to melt butter for this recipe. I actually had to do it twice. Apparently you have to melt it until it’s transparent, not cloudy.
See the clumps? That’s not because I forgot to temper the eggs; that’s the butter trying to re-solidify. I tossed that mess. I’m not sure if it would have hurt the recipe, but I didn’t want to waste any more ingredients in order to find out.
We bought a new microwave that weekend. I promise that I’ll never take my magical heating appliance for granted again.
Here’s the dry ingredients meeting the wet ingredients and becoming the best of friends. They’ll hook up with the Cranberries soon and sing songs about Ireland warfare. Oh wait, wrong cranberries.
We wait to add the fruit so they don’t burst and permeate the batter. It’s so much better if they burst in the oven and create sticky little cranberry pockets. Once the fruit was gently mixed in, it was time to pour them into muffin pans and bake. I used my awesome Williams-Sonoma muffin pan that was purchased by Chris while we were dating. They bake muffins better than my other pans.
I forgot to sprinkle the muffins with the raw sugar before sticking them in the oven and remember about half way through baking. Most of the sugar stuck, but I regretted forgetting. The muffins, however, were still very pretty and tasty.
Final Verdict: Not my favorite. It was good, but it wasn’t fantastic. I like my fruit muffins a bit sweeter. However, I’m only experienced in American muffins. Maybe they don’t like their breakfast pastries as sweet. Never the less, they were great for Thanksgiving morning.