12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 3: Upside-Down Caramel Apple Muffins

I’m going to have to make this a quick post, because I need to pack for a trip!

While I’ve had many successes with cake, I can’t say the same for muffins. I’ve had more misses than hits in the muffin department, and I think it’s because of the way the ingredients are combined. No creaming, just mixing wet ingredients into the dry and baking. I don’t think I have the lightest hand when combining muffin batter, and it results in strange aftertastes.

I once made an atrocious muffin from How To Be A Domestic Goddess, and it had a harsh baking soda aftertaste. So, for the next muffin recipe I tried from HTBADG,  I halved the amount of baking powder and soda. And I got a disgusting, claggy, underdone, flat muffin.

So I learned my lesson: follow the recipe. Which is what I did with these upside-down caramel apple muffins. The recipe is from NYT’s Melissa Clark, a writer I adore. She elevates the everyday with a twist in technique or by adding an unusual element, and her laidback style (in front of the camera and on paper) makes the recipe easy to follow. In this recipe, she’s added fruit and baked it under dollops of muffin batter, so the apple slices get a lovely caramelization. Plus, they look pretty cute.

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The only substitute I used was yogurt in lieu of sour cream. The original recipe is over at the NYT cooking page. 

12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 2: Orange Zest Pancakes

You know that box of pancake mix you reach for at the grocery store? The one you sometimes pick up for a rainy day, much like packaged Betty Crocker brownie mix?

image via | grababuggy.com

image via | grababuggy.com

Don’t do it. Because it’s so easy to make a batch from scratch. If you’ve got flour, some sugar, eggs and a little butter, you can make pancakes at home.

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Once you have the basic pancake recipe down, you can make whip up a batch anytime. And top them with whatever you like. You could go Nigella style, and add some bacon and maple syrup, for that irresistible sweet+salty kick.

Or you could take the popular muffin & cookie flavour combination of lemon and poppy seeds and whisk it into your pancake batter à la Melissa Clark. (I love every little flavour twist she has up her apron!)

And of course, you could add ricotta, because, why not?

You could also opt for eggless, gluten-free, dairy-free, (and ultimately taste-free!) buckwheat banana pancakes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good. I made these and they were rather…well, for lack of a more subtle word, bleh. Maybe it was the quality of the soy milk I used? Either way, there was an overpower of soy milkiness and baking soda, and I had to slather my very short stack with peanut butter and cinnamon honey to get through. However, a quick internet search will reveal that many people luuurve GP’s vegan pancakes, so perhaps it’s just me.

Anyway, this is a pancake recipe for those who dare to consume AP flour and melted butter. Think of it as a holiday indulgence, and you won’t feel all that guilty about eating some. Like 1-2-3 cookies and buckwheat muffins, I followed Michael Ruhlman’s ratio for pancakes, from his book Ratio. If you have the ratio stuck to your fridge, you can make however many pancakes you want…whenever you want.

The Pancake Ratio: 2 PARTS LIQUID : 1 PART EGG : 1/2 PART BUTTER : 2 PARTS FLOUR

In my case, I took 1/2 cup as the unit. I added 2 parts or 1 cup of liquid (milk+orange juice,)  1 part or 1/2 cup eggs (works out to 2 medium eggs) half a portion of butter (1/4 cup butter,) and 2 parts or 1 cup of flour, along with a teaspoon of baking powder.  My ‘extras’ were castor sugar for sweetness, vanilla, orange zest and a pinch of nutmeg. In the end, I got a pretty, speckled, gorgeous-smelling batter.

 

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ORANGE ZEST PANCAKES (Adapted from Ratio

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4  cup milk
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract OR seeds scraped from a quarter of a vanilla bean
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp castor sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder

METHOD

  • Combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder) in a large bowl/jug and set aside.
  • In a another bowl, lightly whisk together the milk, orange juice, eggs, melted and cooled butter, orange zest, vanilla, and nutmeg.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir with a light hand till no lumps remain. These measurements will give you thick pancakes, but if you like your pancakes thinner, add some more milk.
  • Pour spoonfuls of batter onto a lightly greased griddle or pan, and cook over medium heat till done.

12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 2: Baked Snickerdoodle Donuts

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I remember the first time I encountered a snickerdoodle. It was devastating. I was in 2nd grade at the time, and we were at a Christmas dinner, and the hosts were talking at length about a batch of  snickerdoodles, and how the recipe came from one of their grandmothers.

I was convinced that snickerdoodles were made from, what else, Snickers bars. I didn’t know what exactly these snickerdoodles would look like- cake, cookie, pie- but I just knew they had to have Snickers in them.

And then when the coffee was served I saw brown sugary cookies and I almost cried. How could snickerdoodles NOT have Snickers in them? I felt cheated, like when I got an oatmeal raisin cookie instead of chocolate chip. But that was then. I was 7 and didn’t know my way around the world of baking, and I assumed if it said snicker in the name, it had to have Snickers in the body. Continue reading