Tag Archives: bran

The wait is over…and muffins

A somewhat random picture of our new dining room table. Isn't it gorgeous?

Ahhh, I just deleted a post that had been going stale as a draft for several days. Obviously it wasn’t right. I was trying to convey such monumental good news that I was getting more than a little carried away. Rather than dance around the issue for paragraph upon paragraph, I’ll get right to it.

I got a job!

Last Friday I received a phone call from the latest (and greatest) museum where I’d put in an application. They wanted to hire me! This job is so perfect, I would have been pretty bewildered if I didn’t get it. I’ll be doing very similar work to what I did before leaving Denver more than two years ago. I’ll spare the details for now. All that matters is that it’s something I love doing, I’ll be using my education, and getting some intellectual stimulation 3 days a week starting in April. Woohoo!

I’ve been riding the high from that news all week, although it has been somewhat muted by a sad development in the family. Almost simultaneous to the job offer, I found out that my favorite aunt has cancer. Yes, I am not afraid to admit that I have a favorite aunt (and yes, I do have several to choose from). This happens to be the aunt I’ve been closest to growing up.

Lee and I visited her last weekend. I brought homemade Peanut Butter and Nutella Cookies from a Back to Her Roots recipe via a Foodzie Baking Box (These were some seriously good cookies. Make them!). Of course, there was already a fresh-baked apple crisp on the counter when we arrived. I wonder where I got my penchant for baking?

No one knows much yet but we are all hopeful.

Focusing on the positive: you might wonder why my job doesn’t start until April. The delay allows Lee and I to take our boat relocation trip that we’ve been planning for a long time. We have to move Pirat out of the hurricane minefield and into a more secure boat yard. Here’s some quick stats on the trip, in case you’re curious, and you can always check out our sailing story and my eventual posts on this leg over at Pirat.

 

Starting Point: St. Kitt’s, the Caribbean

First Destination: Aruba

Eventual Destination: Curacao

Miles to Cover: about 500 to Aruba and another 30 or so to Curacao

Projected Wind and Sea Conditions: 15-25 knots of wind and 6-8 foot, steep or very steep seas, both from behind us.

 

As you can imagine, I’ve been very busy getting ready for our trip this week (we’re leaving next Tuesday). Among other things, I needed to use my sourdough starter! Isn’t that a high priority before going away for 3 weeks? I really didn’t have time for any elaborate bread baking so I threw together some sourdough muffins this morning. I am thrilled that something I totally made up finally came out well! It seems like I’ve produced more flops than successes in my kitchen of late.

This time, I wanted a comfort muffin. I wanted lots of whole grain heartiness that I know will be difficult to come by in the Caribbean (they are really into their fluffy, sweet bread down there). I also wanted to use up some of the perishable foods in my fridge. On all counts, these muffins were a success.

Just a little disclaimer: my measurements in this recipe are approximate, except when it comes to the bran and flour, which I weighed. Don’t ask me why I wasn’t as precise with everything else! I fed my sourdough started with 1 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup water the night before. In the morning I refilled my starter container and use what remained from the feeding for this recipe. It looked like between 1 and 1.5 cups of starter. More starter would probably just make the muffins more most and a little more sour.

Sourdough Applesauce Bran Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups active sourdough starter (fed the night before)
  • 1.5 oz wheat bran
  • 1.5 oz oat bran
  • 2 oz whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons oil or melted butter
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • Generous dash of cinnamon (maybe 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped prunes or other dried fruit

Instructions

  1. Mix the brans, flour, and salt in a medium bowl (I just add them to the same bowl on top of my food scale).
  2. Combine with the sourdough starter in a large bowl and stir until fully mixed. Cover bowl and allow to sit for an hour or two.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, applesauce, sugar, oil, cinnamon, and baking powder.
  5. Stir in vanilla extract and prunes.
  6. Add liquid mixture to dough that has been sitting, stirring until fully combined. It comes together eventually even though the dough is kinda doughy and the liquid is liquidy...)
  7. Spoon batter into a prepared muffin tin and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until muffins are firm.
  8. Remove from oven and cool muffins on a wire rack.
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Filed under inspiration and musings, muffins

Corn-Bran-Clementine Muffins

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Oh muffins, it’s been so long! It feels like forever since I’ve baked my favorite goodies. I suppose I’m getting pickier about recipes and inspiration has taken a back seat to things like holiday travel and wedding plans.
Without further adieu, I bring you a muffin with definite promise but some unfortunate shortcomings. I’m not writing these off as a failure but they’re not my favorites…yet.

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I was inspired by the huge basket of Clementines brightening the table. Their juicy little sections had to be good in a muffin! Starting with a recipe from Bob’s Red Mill, the only thing I changed was the fruit, from raisins to Clementines. I suppose I added some nutmeg too. Who can resist nutmeg and orange?
The corn-bran combination is a winner but I don’t think oranges are the right fruit with these grains. The Clementines were very juicy but the cornmeal seemed to suck them dry. The orange flavor was fantastic and I loved the crunchy corn. When I make these again, I’ll amp-up the wet ingredients, stick to the raisins from the original recipe, and throw in some marmalade for fun!
I’m sharing the original recipe and my somewhat sub-par variation because I think these muffins are definitely worth experimenting with. Maybe some of you can come up with a better orange twist!

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Corn-Bran-Clementine Muffins
Adapted from Corn-Bran-Raisin Muffins from Bob’s Red Mill

1-1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup agave nectar or honey
2 large eggs
Zest from one Clementine Mandarin orange
3 Clementine oranges, peeled and chopped into small pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine cornmeal, bran, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs, then add oil, yogurt, agave, and orange zest.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mixing gently till barely combined.
Fold in chopped oranges.
Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups with liners or lightly oiled. I made 12 mini and 10 regular muffins.
Bake at 400 F. for 12 minutes (8 minutes for mini-muffins).

Eat them while they’re hot with butter or try something different and let me know what you come up with!

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Spicy banana bran scones (vegan!)

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Just some scones, hangin out on deck.

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After my oven difficulties while baking muffins the other day, I had to give baking on the boat another go as soon as possible. This morning, as we pitched and rolled at anchor in choppy Newport harbor, I searched for inspiration in my cookbooks and recipe notes.
What had I been meaning to bake before we left? Oh yeah, scones! Now where was that recipe? Hmmm, kinda boring. How could I spice these up? Some spices, perhaps? I looked to one of my favorite unusual cookie recipes for ideas. I’m sure I’ll be posting about these cookies eventually. They’re vegan oatmeal cookies that use banana and all kinds of yummy spices, making them taste a bit like indian food in oatmeal cookie form.
The recipe I wanted to spice up was for Banana Bran Scones. I love the idea of incorporating banana into a scone and oat bran is a breakfast staple in my kitchen. Without messing with those two ingredients, I played around with the recipe to make it a little more exciting! Unlike my last oven experiment, the result was not disappointing. (To be fair, the Pear Ricotta Muffins were really, really tasty after they’d firmed up a bit and I will be making them again!)
These scones are so much better than I expected them to be. I’m kind of in love with them. They’re just the right amount of sweet for a scone. They’re hearty without being dense and buttery, as scones can be. The banana is incredible. Using a really ripe banana makes the flavor so strong and sweet it almost seems artificial. I love the little flecks of un-mashed fruit here and there. Then there’s the spices! I added most of the repertoire from my favorite oatmeal cookies. I think cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger go really well with banana and raisins. which I threw in at the last minute. This was also an opportunity to give coconut oil another try. I’ve been experimenting with it and I’m really happy with how it worked in this recipe. There is a hint of coconut flavor in the baked scones and they maintain their scone texture without the butter.

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Do yourself a favor and make a double batch. They go fast!

Featured on Baking is Hot

Spicy Banana Bran Scones
Adapted from Cooking Light
Makes 8 scones

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oat bran
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon each of nutmeg, ginger, and allspice*
1 tablespoon powdered soy milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter/margarine)
3/4 cup mashed, ripe banana
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon vinegar
A handful of raisins

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (I used the oven timer this time to make sure it heated up!)

Mash banana and sugar together in a small bowl. Let stand while you prepare other ingredients.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, oat bran, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices, and powdered soy milk.
Melt coconut oil in a saucepan over very, very low heat. You can also submerge the jar of oil in hot water to soften it or use whatever softening method you prefer.
Allow the oil to cool slightly, then pour it into the flour mixture, blending with a pastry blender, 2 knives, or a whisk (a whisk worked great for me).
Add vinegar and water to the banana.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
Pour banana into flour mixture and stir vigorously to combine, adding the handful of raisins as you do. Dough will be more like a batter than a biscuit dough.
Place dough, in approximately 1/3 cup scoops, on an oiled or otherwise nonstick cookie sheet. You may want to flatten and shape each scoop into round, biscuit-like shapes.
Bake at 450 for 15 minutes.

*I wanted to use cardamom, since I think it’s actually the star spice in the oatmeal cookies, but I couldn’t find it. I must have hidden it away in the boat somewhere. I subbed allspice but use cardamom if you have it!

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Not so sweet but nice and crunchy granola

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        I’ve been on the hunt for a good granola recipe for a long time. Maybe it would be more accurate to say I’ve been looking for the right granola recipe for a long time. There are tons of really good ones out there but I am looking for something very specific in my granola. Of course it needs to be healthful and tasty. I prefer it to be made with the most basic, whole ingredients (homemade granola made with store-bought cereal makes very little sense to me). Nuts are good, but not too many. I’d consider dried fruit but I always add fresh fruit to my cereal when I eat it anyway. Finally, too much oil and sugar moves granola from a healthy breakfast or snack into the realm of candy.
        With all the granola recipes I’ve been wanting to make filed away for reference, I set out to come up with my own mix this morning. I was inspired by Steph Chows Mixed Berry Sucanat Granola to use applesauce as a replacement for oil. Now what about the sugar? My favorite brand of granola, Nature’s Path Hemp Plus, is hardly sweet at all. It’s lumpy, crunchy, light, and very satisfying. This morning I threw a few things in a bowl to try to recreate those characteristics. I was also just trying to use up the dregs of various ingredients in my pantry.

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Not So Sweet Granola

2 cups thick cut rolled oats
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
2 cups wheat bran
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup slivered almonds – or more if you’re more nutty than I am!
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
*1 cup applesauce
optional sweetener: 1/3 cup sucanat, maple syrup, agave, or honey

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Add the applesauce and optional sweetener.
Mix until all dry ingredients are coated.
Spread evenly on a cookie sheet lightly coated with oil or lined with parchment/a silicone mat. (It helps if the cookie sheet has rims around the edge so the granola doesn’t go sliding off.)
Bake at 325 for about 45 minutes, checking and stirring things around a couple times during baking.
Cool completely on the cookie sheet and then store in an airtight container, adding dried fruit at this point if you’d like.

*I used one small container of unsweetened applesauce and one of sweetened cinnamon applesauce because that’s what I had left.

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        For this batch (lets call it Granola #1) I didn’t use any sweetener. I wanted to see what granola made with just applesauce would taste like and if it would even work. Well, it worked and it tastes great! It’s not sweet at all but it tastes pleasantly nutty from the flax and almonds and it’s very crunchy. The applesauce holds everything together nicely. So far I’ve just snacked on Granola #1 plain but I’m looking forward to trying it with some vanilla greek yogurt and a banana tomorrow morning! Next time I’ll try adding some maple syrup to see how that compares.

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Filed under other goodies