Sunday, February 28, 2010

Doughnut Muffins

These are great little muffins, because they use basic ingredients, nothing fancy. Though they seem fancy with jelly filling, and crunchy tops.

To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, put 3 1/2 cups flour.


1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder


1 teaspoon salt


1 teaspoon cinnamon


1 teaspoon nutmeg


and 1 1/2 cup sugar.


Stir to combine.


Now, in another mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups milk, 2/3 c vegetable or extra virgin olive oil


and two eggs


Mix well.


Pour milk mixture into your flour mixture.


Mix.




Now, you will need to line with paper, two 12-cup muffin pans, or do this in two batches. You are going to put about 1 Tablespoon of the batter into the bottoms of the cups.


Now the fun part.

Take your favorite jelly or jam...or even apple butter. I am using strawberry for half, and my homemade wild blackberry jelly for the other half. Put about 1 tsp in the middle of each cup.


Now you will cover the jelly with batter. I use a medium sized scoop to do this, but you can simply spoon the batter in, filling the cups about 3/4 full.


Now bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes or until they test done when a toothpick is inserted in the middle. These muffins do not get very brown.

While they are baking, melt 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter.


Pour it into a small bowl...I used one of my measuring cups.


In another small bowl, combine 2/3 c sugar, and 2 tsp cinnamon.


Here are the just-out-of-the-oven muffins.


Now for the tricky part. Carefully remove a hot muffin from the pan, and dip the top into the melted butter. (If you try and hold the muffins near the top of the paper, they are a little easier to handle.)


Then immediately dip it into the cinnamon sugar.


Repeat with all of the muffins.


And then let the muffins cool a couple minutes. Dipping the hot muffins in the butter and then cinnamon sugar creates a crunchy and sweet top to the muffins.


Eat warm or room temperature.


Enjoy!

*Note: If 24 muffins are too much for your house, you can half this recipe to make 1 dozen. When I make these, I often give some away as gifts to friends or neighbors, so 24 is perfect for around here.


***

Printable Version: Doughnut Muffins


Thursday, February 18, 2010

SotM Field Trip - Final Chapter at the Natural History Museum

Finishing up our trip to the Natural Sciences Museum in Raleigh, we went into the Living Conservatory.

This is a very warm, tropical room, filled with these beauties.





Sometimes if you hold still, they actually land on you. It's pretty cool.



Check this guy out. On the outside of his wings, he looks like this.



And on the inside....



There were just a few other residents in there, that were not winged and colorful. This is one...



And you can't really see this one, but this would be Sid the Sloth. Okay, maybe his name isn't Sid....but he is a sloth! And he's a bit anti-social.



This finishes up our trip through the Natural Science Museum.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hearty Herbed Italian Bread

This is a great bread to side with Italian-style dishes. You can use it for Stromboli, Garlic Bread, or whatever you like.

First, create a warm environment, by turning the light on in your oven.

And to start, in your mixer bowl, pour in 2 cups of lukewarm water. Sprinkle with 1 Tabespoon of yeast.


Let it sit for about 5 minutes, so it can dissolve and start bubbling.

Then, add in 1 1/2 c of regular, white bread flour. Mix it in.


Next, add in 1 cup of cornmeal, and 1/2 cup of rye flour (I use fresh-ground)


Mix it up for about 1 minute.


And now we will add 1 1/2 teaspoon each of Oregano and Basil.


This is what it should look like.


Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and place it in your oven, and let rest for about 30 minutes.
It will look something like this.


Next, you are going to add in 2 teaspoons of salt...


...2 Tablespoons of good olive oil...


and with the dough hook going, add in 1 cup of wheat flour (again, mine is fresh-ground)


And then gradually add in another cup of the unbleached bread flour, creating a nice dough. Let this knead in the machine for 10 minutes.



If need be, you can add up to another 1/2 cup of the bread flour, if it is unmanagable. This dough will remain slightly sticky though.

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl.


Take the dough, and form it into a ball, then roll it around in the oiled bowl, to coat it with the oil all over. I just swirl the bowl around to do this.


Now, cover it again with a towel, and put it back in your warm oven to rise. Let it 30-45 minutes, or until doubled in size.


After it has risen, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead it just a couple times. Divide the dough in half, and roll one section out into an oblong shape.


Now, roll the dough up.


Note: I have a special pan designed just for making this type of bread. I lightly spray it with some oil before placing the dough in it. If you don't have one of these pans, that is okay. Just use a baking sheet or stone.

Roll the dough, place it seam-side down in the pan, tucking the ends under. Repeat with the other half of the dough.


Cover the dough again with the towel, and place it back into the warm oven for the final rise. Let it rise 30 - 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.


Now, set the pan on the counter, and heat your oven up to 400 degrees.

When your oven is ready, you are going to spray the loaves with some water. If you don't have a spray bottle, just brush some on. If you want, you can slash the tops of the loaves about three times at an angle. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. This time I didn't.

Spray the loaves, and then immediately put them in the oven, and bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until just golden brown.




Enjoy!



Printable Version: Hearty Herbed Italian Bread