Archive for the 'Baking' Category

Moist Pumpkin Raisin Bran Muffins – AKA Better Than Sex Muffins

Adapted from a King Arthur Flour Test Kitchen recipe
Makes 12 muffins

I have a lot of friends that just love pumpkin. Pumpkin in anything is a good thing. I like pumpkin, too; just not as much as these folks.
I have been baking many different kinds of muffins lately and I thought why not try a pumpkin muffin.
And the search was on.
I did not find many pumpkin muffin recipes. Some of them sounded awful. I tried one from Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking that was just okay. Then I ran across a recipe on the Internet from King Arthur Flour. One thing I liked about it was that it used a whole 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree. What do you do with a quarter can of pumpkin anyway?
In looking at the recipe it look familiar. It seemed close to the moist and tasty bran muffins I posted earlier (here). So I made some changed to the recipe using some tricks from that recipe.
It worked.
These are outstanding muffins. The pumpkin flavor comes through (a problem in many pumpkin recipes) and they are moist and tender – just a great combination. And as an added bonus, they are low calorie, low fat and high in fiber.
And they taste so good that a friend of mine renamed them “Better Than Sex Muffins!”
It fits.

Recipe follows.

Continue reading ‘Moist Pumpkin Raisin Bran Muffins – AKA Better Than Sex Muffins’


Amazing Margarita Cookies

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Sablés au Citron
Makes about 50 cookies

These cookies are amazing. You bite into one thinking cookie. And it is a cookie. It’s sweet. But then the salt hits you and your brain says whoa!
Sweet and salty.
Then the lime and orange kick in. And your brain says whoa again…sweet, salty and citrus.
Then the slight hint of tequila hits you.
And your brain, totally confused, says, “Margarita cookie. I like.”
And you have another. And another.
These things are addictive.
I know you don’t believe me. No one believes me when I offer them a margarita cookie. Then they taste one and always want another.
Like I said, this is an amazing cookie.

Recipe follows.

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Mom’s Famous Pumpkin Roll Up Cake

Serves 6 to 10

This is a recipe my wife has been making for years and years. We have no idea where she got it from. The only thing I know is that it’s delicious.
It is an easy cake to make. It looks really pretty once you sprinkle it with confectioner sugar. And it serves a lot of people.
Sounds like a near perfect dessert, assuming you like pumpkin (which I do!).

Recipe follows.

Continue reading ‘Mom’s Famous Pumpkin Roll Up Cake’

Moist and Tasty Bran Muffins

Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated
Makes 12 muffins. Published May 1, 2007.

No, that title is not an oxymoron. How can a BRAN muffin be both moist and tasty you ask? Let me explain…
…I have fallen in love with muffins. They are relatively easy to make and very forgiving. Yea, I still measure everything exactly (it is baking after all). But my guess is that if you just threw these together without weighing everything, they would still come out delicious.
I have made lots of muffins in my day and most of the bran muffins have been more like hockey pucks until now. This recipe delivers a bran muffin that is low in fat, moist, and tasty — all at the same time. And they said it couldn’t be done.
I made a few alterations to the basic Cook’s Illustrated (CI) recipe and I think I improved on it just a bit.
The ordinal recipe avoided using wheat bran and wheat germ to avoid a trip to the health food store. Well, I have both of those things on hand for bread baking so I added both to the recipe.
CI used 2-1/4 cups of All Bran Original cereal and took half of the All Bran “noodles” for a ride in a food processor until they were finely ground. I eliminated that step and substituted one cup of wheat bran and 1/2 cup of toasted wheat germ.
To make sure that the wheat bran did not dry out the muffins, I added one-half cup of buttermilk. To compensate of the buttermilk, I added 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder to the dry mixture.
The result is a moist, tasty (the buttermilk), delicious bran muffin with raisins. This may be one of the best muffins I have ever tasted.

Recipe follows.
Moist and Tasty Bran Muffins

Continue reading ‘Moist and Tasty Bran Muffins’

What is the difference between butter and margarine? And which is better for you?

Well first, butter is a natural product and margarine is manmade. Margarine was invented in 1869 by Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès. Butter has been around since the cows came home.
Nutritionally they are almost identical. And, they are very similar in many other ways too. Alan Davidson, author of The Oxford Companion to Food (Canada, UK), says, “Margarine, of the kind intended to resemble butter, can be among the most realistic of ‘imitation’ foods. [It] spreads, melts, and combines with other ingredients in just the same way as butter. Only a slight deficiency in flavor and a small difference in texture and ‘mouth feel,’ discernible when it is eaten as a spread on bread, give it away.”
Butter is made by churning cow’s milk until it coagulates. It has a fat content by law of 80 to 85 percent.
On the other hand, margarine also has 80 percent fat and is made from blends of vegetable oils, such as corn, soybean, safflower or canola. They use a chemical process called hydrogenation which replaces the double chemical bonds in those oils with single chemical bonds, making the liquid oils solid at room temperature.
However, that replacement process is never complete and we are left with what are called partially hydrogenated oil, also known as a trans fat. Trans fats are what make margarine solid instead of liquid at room temperatures. As we now know, trans fats are bad for you because they have been found to increase total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lower HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol).
Then again, you do not get away scot free with butter either. Because almost all butter is made from cow’s milk (an animal product) it is loaded not only with saturated fat but also contains cholesterol – something margarine doesn’t contain. And, as we know, saturated fat and cholesterol are bad for you.
So, the answer to the question is that you get to pick your poison: trans fat or saturated fat and cholesterol.
To me, it comes down to taste and butter wins every time.
Your taste may vary.

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