We make lots of muffins here at the B and B. Sometimes we have guests who request “just some muffins and coffee, please,” though most folks prefer a full breakfast. There are probably a couple dozen different kinds of muffins I make on a regular basis, such as everybody’s favorites: strawberry, rhubarb, and zucchini. Since I rarely do anything exactly the same twice, recipes often evolve and morph into something new.
A disclaimer here — I’m not a culinary chemist or a registered dietician, so the guidelines and advice I’ll give you for playing around with muffin recipes are entirely empirical.
My first piece of advice is to read. Reading on the net yields many specific recipes, and you may indeed find what you’re looking for. For me, though, it’s more fun and informative to check out some of the comments about “muffins” — or whatever I’m making — in my favorite general purpose cookbooks. In this instance, the two I like best are King Arthur Flour’s “200th Anniversary Cookbook” and my perennial favorite, Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything.”
Now look for a “master” recipe you’d like to play with. A recipe with 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups flour and about one tablespoon baking powder will fill 12 muffin cups. Then you need some sweetener — sugar, honey, molasses, syrup or maybe just some fruit or fruit puree that’s quite sweet (maybe 1/2 cup or so) — seasonings of your choice and some liquids — juices, dairy products, eggs, oil or melted butter (about a cup total).Textural interest items could include raisins, nuts, oatmeal, dried or chopped fruit (not more than a cup). The batter you create should be moist, spoonable, and a bit lumpy. Add more liquid if it’s too heavy.
You may want to add a topping — streusel, nuts and seeds, or just a sprinkling of sugar. You really can’t go wrong if you stick to a few basic proportions.
Today’s recipe for gingerbread-applesauce muffins was the result of a cross between — and some changes to — an old gingerbread cake recipe of my mother’s and a half-full jar of homemade chunky applesauce that was in my fridge. Voila! A new muffin.
GINGERBREAD APPLESAUCE MUFFINS
Recipe makes 12 muffins. It can be doubled easily. With a bit of cream cheese frosting, these can turn into cupcakes.
Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups and set aside. Set oven to 350 degrees.
Beat until smooth:
1 extra large or two large eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange oil or orange extract
Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl:
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each cloves and ginger
Combine wet and dry ingredients and add 1/2 cup boiling water.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 to 3/4 full. Sprinkle tops with a little sugar, and bake about 20 to 22 minutes.
David and Muffy Vhay own Deer Run Ranch Bed and Breakfast. Contact the ranch at 775-882-3643.