Tag Archives: Muffins and Scones

Orange Rosemary Muffins with Pinenuts

I already wrote this once today.  You know, when you sit down and immerse yourself in a post, wallowing in the moment of getting everything just right, choosing the perfect photos, and salivating all over again over what you made.  No, not on it.  About it.

And then your browser shuts down.  The post is lost, and your motivation to begin again is just not there.

That would be me, now.  And the feeling overshadows the fun I had this morning making these lovely muffins.  So I’m trying to suck it up and get rolling once more.

You’ve already looked at the photo and are wondering where I could have come up with this one.  Or maybe you’re not wondering and you just want me to stop blathering and get on with it.  I don’t blame you.

So here’s the short version:  We’re going to Italy this summer.  Although some of the time will be spent near Florence, the bulk of our time will be spent in Rome and Sorrento near the Amalfi coast where lemons are everywhere.  So I’ve had citrus on my mind and when Helene of Tartelette chose citrus as the featured flavor of Sugar High Friday #43, well, I surprised myself by choosing not lemons as I’d been planning, but oranges.

And I just happened to have these cute little Italian terra cotta pots…



*** Someone brought it to my attention that I left out an ingredient quantity — 1 tsp. baking soda.  Thanks!

  • The terra cotta pots hold exactly 8oz. or 1 cup.  Comparatively, large muffin cups also hold 8 oz. and the more standard 12-muffin pans hold 4 oz. or 1/2 cup.
  • I used a convection setting at 375 degrees F and checked the muffins at 10 minutes, then in 3 minute intervals until they were nicely golden brown, no longer wet-looking on the top, and a wooden skewer inserted in the center came out clean.  I am still not buying the often described 20 percent reduction on heat and time for convection ovens.  I think it depends on what I’m cooking.  At most, I keep an eye on the food, and reduce the temp if things begin to get brown too fast, but rarely by more than 5 or 10 degrees.  Not very scientific, but I’ve been experimenting with my oven for 3-1/2 years, and nothing’s completely conclusive, just with any other oven you have to get to know.
  • I’m thinking you could add 50 percent more rosemary to this and pine nuts that are more coarsely chopped so there’s more of a crunch in every bite.  The flavors are very nice together.
  • The muffins are excellent without the glaze that we just drizzled on after removing them from the pots, and I had the juice from the orange, so why not?The crema fresca natural is a very thick, but pourable table cream that has the slightest bit of sourness, but nothing near to our sour cream or even creme fraiche, which would work fine in this recipe.  It can be located in the deli case at your grocery store along with other Mexican creams and cheeses if you’re lucky.
  • The texture of these muffins is fine, and extremely moist.  The top and sides have a nice crunch which presents a great contrast.  The fragrance is lovely.
  • I wish I could take credit for the terra cotta pots, but I saw the idea in a Jamie Oliver cookbook in a cheese bread recipe and actually bought them for that.  They worked so well, expect to see more later.  I’ve got requests from family about what comes next.
  • And I’m already wondering whether some extra virgin olive oil instead of all the butter would work with these muffins.  A little less saturated fat never hurt anyone.  And it’s more…Italian.  Ciao!


Giant Muffins a la Joanne Chang

I’m on a search for the perfect muffin.  I like muffins.  What I’m not so fond of is knowing that their soft and moist cakeyness is hiding a staggering amount of oil.  It takes all the fun out of sinking my teeth into one.  And if I had a choice, the perfect muffin would have chunks of fruit, crunchy nuts, and just a bit of sweetness in each and every bite.

Chocolate muffins wouldn’t be on my list of something I’d consider a favorite, although a plump, dark one loaded with morsels does catch my eye at the coffee shop when it sits alongside the blueberry and carrot muffins that I prefer.  Somehow, eating chocolate for breakfast just doesn’t seem right (okay, so maybe a chocolate croissant…), and in my mind, muffins are breakfast food.

I’m certainly not one of those who has been a die-hard baker all her life — at least with any degree of consistency.  I do bake, but not nearly as much as I cook savory food.  You noticed that, maybe?  Perhaps it has something to do with the idea that we weren’t a dessert family when I was growing up.  If we had anything sweet after dinner, it would have been right before bedtime, and then, only a cup of tea with milk and sugar, or a small bowl of cereal.  Not both.

Definitely, muffins weren’t something we ever had, nor did I notice them in my mother’s venerable Betty Crocker cookbook.  Although there are several recipes for muffins in the old notebook, I must have been more intrigued by the popovers and the biscuits.  The streusel-filled coffee cake.   Mmmm…streusel.

But I’ve noticed something while going through the old muffin recipes — they don’t contain huge amounts of oil.  In fact, they’re all made with shortening — yes, I know that’s fat — but only 1/4 cup at that.  Yes, I do realize that’s still quite a bit of fat, but if a recipe makes eight giant muffins and only half of one is eaten for breakfast, then…well perhaps you can do the math.  I’ll just say that’s not very much fat at all unless you’re trying to avoid fat all together.

Not too long ago, I tried a recipe for Blueberry Muffins, and another for Pumpkin Oat Muffins.  Both were outstanding with the pumpkin being my favorite.  So at this point, that would be my point of comparison.  Can I beat that?  And if I’m living up to the point of this blog, then quite a bit of veracity has to go along with anything I bake, right?

And that brings me to my most recent muffin.

Once in a while, I indulge in a cooking magazine called Fine Cooking (and don’t you think I might have realized they had a website before now?)  I see it when I’m in line at the grocery store, and when the person in front of me has decided to argue about whether their lemons are on sale or not, I fixate on the cover which usually sports something I think I can’t live without.  It usually isn’t true, because I rarely cook what is on the cover of this particular magazine.  At $6.95 an issue, you’d think I’d make every single recipe in the magazine.  I do save them, however, going through them to see if anything catches my fancy.  The March 2006 issue just happens to have an interesting article on muffins and how one batter can essentially make “All Your Favorite Muffins.”  The master recipe is from Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery + Cafe in Boston.

What’s great about the article is that Chang breaks muffins down into categories:  flavorings, fruit and chocolate, and fruit, nuts, and glaze.  Within each category are suggestions for quantities and endless possibilities to mix and match.  What a perfect idea!

Here’s my first attempt of flavor combinations.

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