Monthly Archives: March 2011

Oatmeal Buttermilk Muffins

Hold on to your hats, folks, because this is the second semi-healthy thing in a row I’m posting!

Actually, these are pretty healthy (the Orange Olive Oil cake…not so much), relative to most of the baked goods I make.  The texture of these muffins are yummy – a little bit chewy, moist, substantial, but not heavy.  They’re also really versatile, so you can put in whatever add-ins you want.  I added walnuts, and made two versions – some with black raspberry jam and some without.  The muffins aren’t very sweet, so the versions with jam baked in had just the right amount of contrast.

Oatmeal, buttermilk, brown sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste, but you couldn’t really tell, so I’d use regular vanilla extract in the future), salt, egg, cinnamon, and the best ingredient: mashed banana.  The original recipe called for oil, but via The Sweets Life, I discovered that you can substitute a mashed banana.  Since I had an excess of browning bananas, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to try it out.  It worked out really well – you couldn’t taste the banana at all, and didn’t miss the fat either.  I would guess you could also use applesauce.

Add the buttermilk to the oats and let them soak for 15 minutes.  The oats soak up the buttermilk and it becomes a thick, soupy mixture.

Then add the banana, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla extract.  This looks pretty gross, but that’s sometimes how it is with baking.  Gross, then delicious.  Then you add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

Here is the point where you can add whatever mix-ins you want.  I used walnuts (I should have tossed them with a little flour first – they kind of sank in the muffins).  You could also use dried fruit, other nuts, or nothing at all.

I also had a moment of inspiration when I saw this jam in my counter.  It was a stocking stuffer from my mom this past Christmas, and it’s delicious.  It’s from a local place just south of the Pennsylvania border, and she always has some when I go home.

After I had scooped the batter into the muffin tins, I added half a teaspoon of jam to four of the muffins, just to see how it would turn out.  Then you bake them at 400 degrees for 16-18 minutes till a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean.

What I love most about these muffins is how high and rounded they bake up – I filled the tins pretty full, and they didn’t overflow at all.  They are just lovely, sturdy little muffins.

They also taste wonderful – great for breakfast or a snack with a cup of tea.

Oatmeal Buttermilk Muffins

Adapted from AllRecipes
Servings: 12

Ingredients:
1 cup oats (not instant)
1 cup buttermilk (I used nonfat)*
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil OR one mashed, ripe banana
1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 cup walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup dried fruit (optional)
1/8 cup fruit jam (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 12-cup standard muffin tin.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together oatmeal and buttermilk. Let soak for 15 minutes.
  4. Add egg, brown sugar, oil/banana, and vanilla.  Stir to combine
  5. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt to wet ingredients and stir just till combined.
  6. Add any mix-ins you desire (aim for about 1 cup total) – stir just till combined (don’t overmix).
  7. Divide batter evenly between the muffin tins.
  8. At this point, you can add 1/2 teaspoon jam to the center of each muffin, if desired.  Push the jam down a bit into the center of the batter, but don’t submerge it completely.
  9. Bake on middle rack for 16-18 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until muffins test done.
  10. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Store in airtight container for one to two days.

*If you don’t have buttermilk, use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar mixed with milk to make one cup.

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Babies, Book Club, and Bundt Cake

This past weekend was the annual Nawakwa Women’s Book Club Weekend. Our book this year was “The Good Earth”, by Pearl S. Buck. The book is amazing, if you haven’t read it. I never had to read it in high school, and I am really glad that I have read it now!

All the PREP girls were there, if only for Friday night. I got to meet Sophie for the first time, and she was tiny, adorable, perfect. Charlie was so much bigger than the first time I met him…and he was such a little flirt!

There were so many willing and eager arms waiting to take Sophie and Charlie off of their mamas’ hands.

Two loving sets of hands tucking a tired Charlie into his car seat.

Plus, as always, there was an abundance of food. This year, I made spinach & artichoke dip (a.k.a. The Dip), almond roca, and an orange olive oil bundt cake (from Baked Explorations).

The orange olive oil cake was delicious – it had a texture similar to pound cake, and although I expected a stronger olive oil taste, it really did not come through very much. The orange flavor was beautiful though. It is the type of cake that’s great for dessert, snack, or breakfast.

In my mind, it’s also not terribly unhealthy…there’s four eggs, but no butter!  And there’s yogurt!

Zest two oranges – mine ended up being about 1/8 cup. Mmmm…I love the scent of orange zest.

Then you separate the eggs and beat the yolks (save the whites for later). After the egg yolks are thick and pale, add the sugar slowly with the mixer on low. I wasn’t expecting this, but it becomes really thick – a grainy paste. After you add the orange zest, vanilla bean paste (or just plain old extract), yogurt, and olive oil, it loosens up. Then, you add the dry ingredients, and it is a pretty thick batter.

At this point, you set the batter aside and beat the egg whites till they form stiff peaks. I don’t know about you, but I’m always amazed at how egg whites work. Seriously, they start out as a liquid and then they triple in size and become a fluffy foam. So cool.

Then you begin the kind of hard work (ok, “hard” for someone who is not very strong): folding in the egg whites. You start with a small amount and fold it in gently, gently, gently. Then, you fold in the rest, still very gently, until they’re all incorporated. The batter becomes lighter, and the texture is more like what you’d expect from a cake batter.

You pour it in a bundt pan and put it in a 350 degree oven. It’s supposed to bake for 40-50 minutes, but mine probably took closer to 60 minutes. You rotate it once, halfway through baking. The smell wafting through my apartment was amazing, and the cake itself was really good.

Not too sweet, great texture. I didn’t use the powdered sugar because I transported it in the pan, but I think that would have added a really nice sweet touch. I want to try a grapefruit version of the cake as well.

This was definitely a time- and labor-intensive recipe. For everyday cakes, I’d probably try something a little easier (possibly this one from Smitten Kitchen), but for special events or get-togethers, this is perfect.

Orange Olive Oil Bundt Cake

From: Baked Explorations (page 36)
Yield: 1 10-inch bundt cake

Ingredients:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup plain yogurt (I used low-fat)
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly grated zest of 2 oranges (about 1/8 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract)
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting – optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 10-inch bundt pan – either with cooking spray or butter and dusted with flour.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk or sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a mixer with the paddle attachment (or just a regular old hand mixer), beat the egg yolks on medium speed until they are pale and thick.
  5. Turn mixer to low and slowly add the sugar until it is completely incorporated. You may have to increase the speed slightly as the mixture gets thicker. Scrape the bowl.
  6. Add the yogurt, olive oil, orange zest, and vanilla and mix on medium speed just till combined. Scrape the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.
  7. Add the flour mixture in two parts, scraping the bowl after each addition. Mix just till incorporated. It will be quite thick.
  8. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  9. Scoop about a cup of the egg whites into the batter and gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
  10. After about 30 seconds of folding, add the remaining egg whites and gently fold them in until they are almost completely combined.
  11. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for 40-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Start checking for doneness after about 40 minutes – mine took close to 60. Rotate the pan halfway through the baking process.
  12. When it’s done, transfer cake (still in pan) to a rack to cool. Then, once cooled, turn onto a rack.
  13. Store tightly wrapped; cake will keep for a few days.
  14. Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving (optional).
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