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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Quick Raspberry Muffins, AND a Quick Bread



This post shows the versatility of many batters.

It started out as just a muffin recipe, one that has been sitting in my draft folder for months. I've made these muffins several times, but this week, with the first of the fall crop of raspberries just really getting up to speed, I was looking for a recipe for a loaf bread--you know, the kind like those ubiquitous banana breads that show up at morning coffees.

Knowing that there are great similarities between the two types of baked goods, I took the muffin recipe and, with hardly any tweaking, had quickly stirred up a couple of loaves of wonderfully moist bread, a little on the tart side but excellent with a little honey butter spread.

The one problem with this as a loaf bread is that the amount of batter is a little too much for a "standard" 9 X 5" loaf pan. As noted below, you can use the standard pan and a "miniature"  3 X 5" pan or a few muffins.

Since I had plenty of raspberries this week, I doubled the recipe and used it for three loaves made in 8 1/2" X 4 1/2" pans.

While the batter is the same, the baking temperature and time will be different. The baking temperature should be 375 degreesfor muffins but only 350 degrees for loaf breads. Unsurprisingly, the time in the oven will also vary, with the muffins and smaller loaves requiring less time than the large loaf.

Whether you want muffins or loaves of bread, this is a wonderful recipe, especially if you have only a cup of raspberries and want to stretch them over several servings. The applesauce can take advantage of the early fall apple crop too. Oh, and note how very little oil is used--a nice bonus!


First, Muffins

Perhaps your picture of a muffin is one of those huge, overly sweetened and garnished desserts masquerading as a breakfast bread at your local coffee place. However, they once were rather plain Jane sides for a light meal of soup and salad or even a fairly healthy after school snack for kids. The nice thing about traditional muffins is that they really do live up to their "quick bread" categorization, and it isn't hard to whip up a batch with little equipment or time.

First, there is the "muffin method," which means you will just stir the dry ingredients in a bowl (no sifter needed), form a "well" in the middle, and then add the liquid ingredients all at once. Stir only until the mixture is just blended, no more, even if there are a few lumps here and there. An ordinary table fork or a wood spoon will do for the stirring, and you really should avoid using any kind of mixture. (Overbeating muffins results in a toughened texture and little "tunnels" in the finished product.) If you have special add-ins like berries, grated carrot, raisins, or nuts, you will fold them in at the very end, again mixing only until the added ingredients are well distributed through all the batter.

One of my least favorite parts of muffins is preparing the pans. You can use cupcake liners, but the muffins often end up sticking to these little papers. My preference is to use a cooking spray (like Spam), but kids who may be helping you sometimes enjoy the messy job of rubbing oil all around all the parts of each muffin "hole."

If you started preheating the oven just before you began putting the dry ingredients in a bowl, it will probably be heated just about the same time that you have the first pan of muffins ready to go. Then it's time to wait maybe 15 minutes or so, and, voila, hot bread to go with the rest of the meal. What could be easier?

For me, raspberries are the "frugal" choice, since I have these in abundance in my backyard garden. However, strawberries, blackberries or raspberries could all be substituted. Even chopped peaches and nectarines could work; with these, I would probably add a half teaspoon of almond extract.

Nuts--walnuts, almonds or pecans--are another nice add-on, either sprinkled over the top or stirred into the batter with the fruit.

Whichever variation you like, do give these quick recipes a try the next time you have a few extra minutes to spend in the kitchen.





Old-fashioned Raspberry Muffins

1 c whole wheat flour (OR use all unbleached flour)
1 c all purpose unbleached flour
2 t baking powder
3/4 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1 T canola oil
1 c fresh or frozen raspberries; if using frozen berries, thaw and drain the juice (save it for other uses like adding it to a smoothie)
1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

1.  Stir the flours, baking powder, sugar, and cinnamon together in a large bowl until they are well-mixed.

Make a "well" in the center of the mixture. (This means that you will form a depression in the middle of the dry ingredients where you will pour the liquid ingredients all at once.)


2.  Measure the applesauce into a 2 cup measure and then add the egg and oil. Stir together until they are all well-mixed.

 

3.  Pour the applesauce mixture into the dry ingredients and stir gently with a fork or wood spoon, just until there are no streaks of the flours left. Don't worry if there are a few lumps.

4.  Fold in the raspberries, and walnuts if used. Stir just enough to swirl them evenly through the batter.



5.  Spoon the batter into well-oiled muffin pans, filling each one about half full, or use cupcake liners. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 16 minutes. Don't worry if you do not have enough pans to bake all the muffins at once; just set the batter aside until the first pan is baked.

6.  Remove from oven and leave in the pans for 3 or 4 minutes. Then take the muffins out of the pans and place on a cooling rack. Serve warm or cold.

This recipe makes about 18 muffin. As you can see at the edge of this photo, you can also make some muffins and a loaf of bread, following the baking instructions below.




These go well with butter or cream cheese and perhaps a drizzle of honey or even a bit of raspberry jam. Since raspberries are bit more tart than some other fruits, a sweet topping may be warranted.



Or...Raspberry Applesauce Bread

Follow the recipe above, through step 4. Bake at 350 degrees, in a well-oiled 9" X 5" loaf pan for about 40 to 45 minutes. If you do this, I would suggest putting some of the batter in a small (3 X 5 or so) pan or making 3 or 4 muffins with part of the batter, as it filled the loaf pan very, very full,  Bake the small loaf or muffins for about 20 minutes. Allow to sit in the pans about 5 minute before turning on to a rack to finish cooling.

As noted above, a double recipe will be enough for three 8 1/2" X 4 1/2" loaves.


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