Sourdough Blueberry Muffins


After a few months of a baking hiatus, I pulled my sourdough starter (Frank) out of the fridge before thanksgiving.  I baked a couple of loaves but they just aren’t everything they could be. Too dense, too sad-looking. 

So, in an effort to rev up my starter and strengthen it enough to get a great loaf of bread, Frank has been living on the counter being fed twice a day. This creates a lot of leftover starter and we can only eat so much bread. 


This morning, I tried a new recipe from King Arthur Flour–blueberry sourdough muffins. Sounded interesting enough!
Frank didn’t have quite enough volume to get a full cup from him, so I made a half batch which yielded 10 smallish muffins. 

These were tasty but unlike most of my usual muffins. The maple syrup sweetener is very mild so these are much more like enriched bread than muffins. The sourdough flavor is pretty much swamped by the blueberries but it is there if you look for it. Perhaps if my starter was stronger, it would come through more.  Surprisingly, my kids loved these despite the lack of super sweetness. 
Small batch Sourdough Blueberry Muffins

120 grams AP flour

70 grams yellow cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 cup sourdough starter, fed or unfed

1/8 cup milk

1/2 large egg or 1 yolk

2 tblsp melted butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup blueberries, frozen (wild blueberries are best but I only had regular today)

Demerara or coarse sugar, for sprinkling tops
Preheat oven to 425 and prepare muffin pan.

Combine dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another, leaving blueberries out until the last step. Thoroughly stir the wet, then add the wet to the dry. Stir until nearly combined. Add blueberries and stir a few more times. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and top with coarse sugar. 

Bake 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack. 

Donut Holes with Maple Sauce

Well, December is finally about over.  2015 was a decent year but, after the craziness of a move, I’m ready for an easy 2016.  I have some food goals for the new year but thats a boring post.  You’d rather see donuts, right?

I love donuts but I’m firmly in the Cake Only Donut Camp.  Do not bring a krispy kreme anywhere near me.  I just don’t get the appeal–its like eating a sugary sponge?  Anyway–if you like Krispy Kreme, thats fine.  I just prefer my donuts with some texture.

The downside to donuts?  They are kind of a pain to make.  What with the rolling out and cutting…I love to cook but, come on, I want my donuts first thing in the morning!  I’m not going to wait around for hours!  Its lunchtime by then and I’ve moved on to other food groups.


This recipe to the rescue!  It is the drop biscuit of donuts.  Quick, easy, minimal ingredients…  and yet it delivers everything I want in a donut: the crunchy exterior, pillowy cake interior, and vehicle for other delicious flavors.  In this case, it is a simple maple syrup dipping sauce with just two ingredients.


The recipe makes a pile of donuts and, start to finish, took me about 20 minutes.  winner winner, donut dinner.

 


Donut Holes with Maple Syrup Sauce

Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Vermont Donut Holes

1 cup (8 ounces) milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) melted butter
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons (4 1/2 teaspoons) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Dredging:
1/3 cup of sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Maple Sauce:
2-3 tablespoons of Maple Syrup (the real stuff!)
1/2 cup of powdered sugar

For the Donuts: Heat your deep fryer to 350, or add enough oil (I used peanut but vegetable oil would work) to a heavy bottomed pan to reach a depth of 1-1.5 inches. Make sure there is plenty of space in the pan above this level as it will bubble up when you add the donut mix.

Combine the egg and milk. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the butter and incorporate.

Drop into the hot oil with a small scooper or set of spoons. I used a number 50 scoop for golf ball sized donuts. If you are using a fryer like I am, put the basket DOWN before you drop the batter in or it will just go right through the basket and you’ll have a mess on your hands.  Fry until golden brown (about 2 minutes per side), flipping with tongs as necessary to get even cooking. Remove to a paper towel to drain, then dredge with the cinnamon sugar mix.

For the Maple Sauce: Combine maple syrup and powdered sugar. Adjust with more syrup if too thick (or more sugar if too thin) to achieve the right consistency for dipping.

Sourdough Bagels: a love story

Bagels are pretty much amazing, right?  Chewy, dense, and able to provide a lot of cream cheese delivery ability.  I’ll admit that I’m a little picky about my bagels though; don’t try to feed me bagel shaped bread and expect me to eat it, ok?  Bagels aren’t bread. Bagels are bagels.  Don’t mess with this.

We had an ok bagel place in Texas but Tennessee is sadly lacking in bagels.  Its been a few months now and my need for a bagel was pretty overwhelming, so I’ve been plowing through recipes looking for a good option.  First, I tried the recipe from Classic Sourdoughs, a book I really like.  I am chalking that failure up to my halving the recipe though as the dough was soft and ultimately bready.  They couldn’t hold their shape during boiling so I ended up just baking them.  bleh.

I finally came upon the recipe for 100% sourdough bagels over at The Wild Yeast Blog.  The pictures looked amazing and I loved the no additional yeast thing.  Then, when I was admiring some bagels on instagram (who doesn’t do that?), azture mentioned they were from the same recipe I had been eyeing.  It was meant to be.

I made a few slight changes to the recipe.  I didn’t have high gluten flour or vital wheat gluten on hand (though I have since gotten some from amazon to try with), so I used bread flour.  I also kneaded it all by hand since thats my thing.  The dough was super tough to knead but came together nicely.  I kneaded it for maybe 15-18 minutes.

Where I differ with the wild yeast blog was in the shaping.  I tried the rolling method but…its a total pain in the ass.  The dough is super tough and elastic even after a resting period and sticking the ends together with water is too fussy for me.  Poke my finger though the ball and shape the bagel all the way.  It takes 1/zillionth of the time.

Proof, refrigerate overnight and they are ready for the final steps in the morning.  I was a little intimidated of the boiling part since my previous attempt at bagels went south here but I trusted in the dough.

They held together and, while they looked a little gross, I knew this step would give me that amazing exterior shell that really differentiates bagel from bread.

Baked!  My bagels could have been a little more evenly sized but whatever.

Sourdough Bagels

Ingredients:

  • 349 g bread flour
  • 121 g cold water
  • 28 g baker’s dry milk powder (King Arthur Flour’s is the best here)
  • 16.4 g non-diastatic malt powder
  • 10.1 g (1 2/3 teaspoons) salt
  • 301 g active 100%-hydration sourdough starter
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda for boiling

Combine all the ingredients (except the baking soda for boiling).  Mix with a spoon in a bowl until it becomes to difficult to work.  Turn out and knead for 15+ minutes or until your dough is smooth and satiny.  Cover the dough and rest for 10 minutes to help it relax before shaping.

Divide dough into 8 pieces and shape into a ball.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes or so.  Prepare a sheet pan with parchment and a heavy sprinkling of semolina flour.

Shape each bagel by sticking your finger through the center of the ball and gently pulling it into a bagel shape.  Make the hole a little bigger than you think to account for puffing during the long rise.

Cover with cling wrap and proof at room temperature for 4 hours.  Then put in the fridge overnight (or about 8 hours).

In the morning, turn the oven to 425 and start a large pot of water to boil and get a cooling rack with a towel or sheet pan under it ready.  Once the water reaches boiling, add the baking soda and stand back!  It will bubble up a bit and then calm back down.

Add the bagels a few at a time for 20 seconds each.  If your bagels don’t sink/stay under water in the beginning, just flip them halfway through the boil.

Remove and allow to drain for a few minutes.  If your bagel’s holes have closed up, you might want to dab the top with a towel.  Transfer back to the semolina dusted sheet pan and put them in the oven.  Turn the oven down to 400.  Bake for 20-27 minutes or until golden brown. Open the oven halfway through to vent any steam out.

Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Eat with cream cheese!

Banana Muffins

  
There is something super sad to me about a bunch of browning bananas. No one wants to eat them and they are even too ugly to use in a smoothie. I could freeze them and keep them for banana ice cream but, honestly, they just get lost in the freezer. 

  

The answer is clearly muffins. Turn that frown upside down, bananas! You are going to go from the saddest part of the fruit basket to the most desirable baked good in the house!

  
I’ve made banana muffins on the blog before but that recipe called for more bananas than I had (and I was far too lazy to adjust the recipe), so I google around until I found this one and it turns out it’s much more delicious and banana-y than my other recipe. See kids? Laziness pays off sometimes. 

Banana chocolate chip muffins
1-1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 medium ripe bananas

1 large egg

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup of chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, mash the banana with a fork. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla and mix well.  Add the dry ingredients and gently stir until just combined.  Add the chocolate chips stirring just a few times to distribute. 
Fill muffin cups nearly full and bake until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean (about 18-22 minutes). Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan then turn out onto a cooling rack. 

  

Apple Butter Muffnuts

oh, muffnuts. Let me sing your sugary praises. So donutty. So muffiny.  I’ve been thinking about these since the first time I made them about a month ago.  They were amazing but, as I pondered what to do with a big batch of apple butter I’d made, I thought maybe the two were meant for each other.

 

 

As before, the dough came together in a snap and was thick and amazing.  With the extra heavy application of cooking spray, they baked up with a great looking crust and slightly darker than the original version–probably because of the added apple butter.
Then it was time to brush with butter and roll in the cinnamon and sugar.  I didn’t change anything about this step from the original recipe.  My son could barely contain his little muffnut-stealing hands.

 

When I first tried them when they were warm, I was sadly underwhelmed.  The cinnamon and sugar overwhelmed the little bit of apple flavor from the apple butter.  However, they improved as they cooled and the apple started to shine even up against the heavy coating.  If you ever had the great north-midwestern experience of having cinnamon cake donuts with fresh apple cider, these will taste very familiar.

I’m not going to say I’ll never make the plain version again but, if I have my apple butter laying around, I’ll probably opt for this version.

I made just a couple of substitutions to accommodate the apple butter in the recipe:

 

Makes 12

2 3/4 cups (13 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 cup of Apple Butter

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs

COATING

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil spray. Whisk flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg together in bowl. Whisk buttermilk, melted butter, apple butter and eggs together in separate bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just combined.

Scoop batter into prepared tin. Bake until doughnuts are lightly browned and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 19 to 22 minutes. Let doughnuts cool in tin for 5 minutes.

Whisk sugar and cinnamon together in bowl. Remove doughnuts from tin. Working with 1 doughnut at a time, brush all over with melted butter, then roll in cinnamon sugar, pressing lightly to adhere. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Serve.

Apple Butter

It is FINALLY fall–more specifically, October. October–the best month of the year! Cool weather, Halloween, changing leaves, and MY BIRTHDAY! Its also time for amazing apples! I grabbed a large bag last time I was at the store and, true to type, came home to find a large drawer of them still in my fridge. I was up early one day anyway so I broke out the slow cooker and started up a batch of Apple Butter.

6.5 pounds of apples: peeled, cored, and sliced.

Combine with cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and white sugar in your slow cooker.  Set to low for 10 hours.

Wait.  That doesn’t look like apple butter.  You’ll need to use a stick blender or (like I did) work this in batches through your blender.  Then, put it back in the slow cooker and continue to cook with the lid ajar for several more hours (or you can do this on the stove top) until the apple butter is the consistency you like.  This could take 1-2 hours or another 6 like mine did.

Eat with everything.  Muffins, biscuits, pretzels.  Or just a spoon.

Apple Butter

6.5 pounds of apples–variety of your choice.  I used honeycrisp and a couple of fujis.

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

Peel and core the apples and combine with the spices in the slow cooker.  Cook on high for 10 hours, puree, then return to a pot (either the slow cooker with the lid ajar or a large pot on the stovetop).  Simmer until you reach the consistency you like.

 

 

The Great Muffin Tin Lining Test

I baked two batches of blueberry muffins over the last couple of weeks and had vastly different results.  The first was blogged here and resulted in gorgeous high-rising muffins that were, sadly, a little difficult to get out of the tin.  In the instructions, I noted that you should use liners instead of facing the frustrating reality of chiseling your muffins out of the tin.

 

But–was that right?  The second batch I made were baked in liners and they came out looking…well…too sad to photograph.  They were delicious but they didn’t rise nearly as high and they didn’t have the nice slight crunch of the exterior that is browned in the individual cups.  I wondered if the liner had anything to do with it and set about to test.

 

Eight muffins, four methods.  Baking spray only, a parchment paper sling, a paper liner, and a foil liner.

Then topped with the topping which I am still using from the original batch.  I still have a little more to use up, in fact.

Halfway through baking, the differences were clear.  Despite the unlined cups having the least amount of batter (since they were filled last and I am terrible at eyeballing), they were baking up higher and better looking than their partners.

 

After baking:

  

Some of this will, no doubt, come down to personal preference.  I prefer a muffin with a little crust on the side and I don’t really love the mess of a liner.  I just want to grab the muffin and eat it without any trash related entanglements, ok?  For that kind of muffin, I think the parchment sling is the way to go.  It made removal super easy and it had an even nicer looking top than the no liner muffins.

 

For those that like a soft sided muffin, the win has to go to the foil liners over the paper liners.  The rise was just a little loftier and muffin comes away just a little cleaner.

Orange Swirl Coffee Cake

A few weeks ago, I finally got around to ordering the first issue of King Arthur Flour’s magazine, Sift. It was, as you’d expect, fully of gorgeous photography and delicious looking recipes but, after making the Orange Sunshine Coffee Cake from the first issue, I’m underwhelmed.

rolling

The recipe in the magazine was full of errors (ingredients calling for orange juice and then the instructions saying “add the water”, etc) and I find so much of the helpful information in the reviews and replies back from KAF on the website. With Sift, you are basically paying (a lot–these magazines aren’t cheap!) for an out of date printed out version of their website. Anyway–the Orange Coffee Cake recipe is available (without all of the errors) on their website for free: King Arthur Flour’s Orange Sunshine Coffee Cake

Even with all the problems I had during assembly because of the errors in the text, this was a delicious and impressive looking cake. Think orange flavored cinnamon roll in cake form. This is described as a spring flavor but I always associate oranges with Christmas and New Years since my family always received a box of oranges from my Grandmother and then, later, my Aunt.

This was received well and it is, as everyone noted, an impressive looking cake even with my fairly novice construction skills. Like many of the online reviewers, I had a problem with the filling leaking out while waited overnight in the fridge. It wasn’t a disastrous event but this cake would be better either with the clear gel called for in the recipe (instead of the suggestion of subbing flour) or baked immediately after the resting phase instead of putting it in the fridge overnight like I did.

The flavor was great and my Mom loved it so I’ll give this another try some day with a better edited recipe and a little more cake shaping experience under my belt.

Orange Swirl Coffee Cake
from King Arthur Flour

dough
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast
2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg

filling
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Instant Clearjel
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons grated orange peel (zest)
3 tablespoons orange juice

icing
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons orange juice

To make the dough: Place the milk in a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Remove it from the heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the orange juice. When the mixture is barely warm to the touch, mix in the yeast, 1 cup of the flour, and the sugar. Cover the bowl, and let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, to give the yeast a chance to get going.

After 10 minutes, the mixture should be showing some bubbles. Mix in the egg and salt. Add another 1 1/2 cups of flour and mix until cohesive. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; use the remaining 1/4 cup flour for your hands as you knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes. It should be soft, smooth, and supple.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it, and let it rise until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

To make the filling: Combine the sugar, Clearjel, cinnamon, orange zest, and juice to form a spreadable paste.

To assemble the coffeecake: Deflate the risen dough and pat it into a rectangle. Cover it with greased plastic and let it rest for 5 minutes. After this rest, roll it into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle. Spread the filling over the rectangle, leaving 1/2″ along one long edge uncovered. Roll the dough up (starting at a long edge) toward the opposite uncovered edge. Pinch the seam to seal, then transfer the log to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pull the ends around to form a circle; pinch the ends together.

Cut slits about 1 1/2 inches apart, three-fourths of the way toward the center of the ring. Lay the rings on their sides to overlap, or twist alternating slices to the inside and outside of the ring, as shown in the recipe’s photo. **I simply stretched these apart rather than try to twist them** Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes, until quite puffy-looking. After 20 minutes of rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.

When the coffeecake is almost doubled, remove the plastic. Put the cake into the preheated oven, and bake it for 20 to 25 minutes, until it’s golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and cool it on a rack.

When the cake is lukewarm, combine the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice and drizzle over the top before serving.

Blueberry Muffin Bout

  

  
I used to be anti-blueberry muffin. I’d always go with the banana nut or chocolate muffin (which, lets face it–is just a cupcake). I’ve come around though to the classic pleasure of a blueberry muffin especially if it had a perfect crumble topping. I have tried a lot of different recipes in the past but never found *the one* so, here we go again with the perfect recipe search.

The first contender: To Die For Blueberry Muffins from AllRecipes. With almost 8,000 reviews, this has to be pretty good, right? I read through some of the reviews and decided to do what many did and subbed buttermilk for the milk. Mostly because I had some buttermilk that was on its last day.

  
One thing I like about muffins? Easy mixing, baby. One bowl, minimal fuss. Add everything in and stir. The crumble topping in this recipe made FAR more than I needed for my muffins, so I have it in the fridge for the next batch. Next time, I will double the muffin batter and keep the same amount of crumble.

  
These muffins were quite delicious and looked fantastic. Super soft and fluffy on the interior and just the right amount of blueberries. The crumble was tasty though some of the other all recipes reviewers subbed brown sugar in for the white sugar and I’m thinking I may do the same. The white sugar gives you almost a hardened glazey shell on the muffin rather than a traditional chunky crumble. The crumble as written is delicious–don’t get me wrong–but I am just wondering if it could be better.

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins
Makes 8 big muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup frozen wild blueberries (wild blueberries are smaller than regular berries)

For the crumble topping:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners. (I didn’t and I regret this decision)

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries which may or may not turn your batter blue–don’t worry. Fill muffin cups almost to the top, and sprinkle generously with crumb topping mixture.

To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork or pastry cutter, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.