Archive for December, 2008


Didn’t I just make muffins? And wasn’t I talking about how I was still on pumpkin? While it’s true that I haven’t moved past pumpkin, I’m definitely excited about cranberries too. Especially cranberry and orange together.


Seven or eight years ago, I went through a health nut phase where I pretty much eschewed white flour. (You can imagine that that lasted for, like, a week.) I at least substituted half whole wheat flour in most recipes, especially quick breads. I’ve apparently reached a complete turnaround. This recipe calls for 100% whole wheat flour, and I came very close to substituting half of that with white flour.


But I stuck to the recipe, and I am so glad I did. These muffins rocked, even though I didn’t have quite the right amount of egg (long story), I used traditional instead of quick-cooking oats, and I skipped the glaze. I’m not a huge fan of glaze on muffins – they don’t take to freezing as well, plus it seems too cupcake-like. I also changed the order that the ingredients were added, just like I did with the pumpkin muffins. I added the sugar with the wet ingredients and the zest with the dry ingredients.


The muffins were nice and light, not at all heavy from the whole wheat flour. The orange flavor was pronounced, which I liked, and the bits of cranberry were perfectly tart and even juicy. All that using 100% whole wheat flour. 2001-me would have been so proud.


Cranberry Orange Muffins (adapted from King Arthur Flour)

I used traditional oats and didn’t notice any problems, but I could see how quick-cooking oats would incorporate into the dough better. I skipped the nuts because I didn’t have any. I used butter instead of oil. I also skipped the glaze.

Makes 12 muffins

1½ cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup quick-cooking rolled oats
¼ cup buttermilk powder or nonfat dry milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon orange zest (finely grated orange peel)
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
2 large eggs
⅔ cup (4.67 ounces) sugar
¾ cup milk
⅓ cup melted butter or vegetable oil

2 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick vegetable cooking spray.

2. Whisk flour, oats, milk powder, baking powder, and orange zest in a large mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk egg until broken up. Add sugar and whisk until combined. Whisk in butter (or oil) and milk.

3. Add cranberries and nuts, if using, to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add milk mixture and fold with rubber spatula until batter comes together. Do not overmix.

4. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups. Bake until toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack.

5. If using glaze: In a small saucepan or the microwave, stir together the glaze ingredients. Bring just to a boil, to dissolve the sugar. Dip the tops of the warm muffins into the glaze.


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Believe it or not, I had all of November’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipes baked by November 1st. (And somehow my freezer was still full of desserts by the end the month.) December has been a different story. I did make these cookies last week, but I only finished them one day before leaving to spend a week with my parents. The rest of the month is characteristically busy for December, so I’m sure this trend will continue.


Fortunately, none of the recipes this month seem to be long involved projects. These sugar cookies are a pretty basic cookie dough recipe with a bit of chilling, then the standard rolling and cutting. And baking and decorating. So I suppose there’s a fair bit of work, but I kept it as simple as possible.


Keeping in mind that I prefer my sugar cookies super tender, I baked these for a little less time than the recipe indicates. Not wanting to struggle with my annoying clingy cookie cutters again, I was left with only one other option (two if you include Halloween cookie cutters, which I don’t in this case) – round biscuit cutters. Dorie suggested a simple cinnamon sugar coating for these cookies, which sounded a little plain. I didn’t have time for elaborate decorations, so I compromised with an easy powdered sugar glaze.


The cookies were pretty good. I added a bit of lemon zest, although a lot less than the lemon variation recommended. I wasn’t looking for a lemon cookie, just a little flavor besides sweetness. I liked the lemon, although next time I’ll add even less. I do prefer the sugar cookie recipe I made last month to this one. Dorie says in the recipe’s introduction that these are crispy, and even with the shorter baking time, they weren’t as soft as I like. But they were very tasty.

Ulrike has the recipe posted.


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pumpkin ginger muffins


I am not done with pumpkin.  Everyone has moved onto cranberries and is all blasé about pumpkin now.  “Pumpkin is so November.”  Well, I for one am not done.




I’ve been looking for a good pumpkin muffin recipe for a while.  What has been holding me back is the add-ins – dried cranberries, raisins, and nuts are all fine, but they aren’t the perfect match for pumpkin that I was looking for.  I finally figured it out when my friend mentioned that she had a great recipe for pumpkin muffins that included a lot of ginger.  Of course – crystallized ginger has just the texture and flavor that I wanted.




My friend’s recipe uses powdered ginger, which I eliminated in favor of adding the crystallized ginger.  It also didn’t include salt, which I thought was weird, so I added some.  I also changed the order that the ingredients were mixed, adding the sugar with the liquid ingredients instead of the dry.  Also, the original recipe called for half of the flour to be added at the end, after everything else had been mixed.  I didn’t understand the point of that, so I just added all of the flour to the dry ingredients.




These are the pumpkin muffins I’ve been looking for – pumpkiny and moist and tender with spicy ginger bits.  The only thing I would change is adding the powdered ginger back in – without it, the muffins are too sweet, and the crystallized ginger doesn’t provide as much spiciness as I thought it would.  And with the addition of molasses, these resemble gingerbread, so they could actually be perfect for everyone who’s ready to move onto December-specific treats.




Ginger Pumpkin Muffins


Makes 8 muffins


1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup (5 ounces) minced crystallized ginger

1 egg

¼ cup (1.75 ounces) packed light brown sugar

½ cup canned pumpkin

¼ cup molasses

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons milk


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350F. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick vegetable cooking spray.


2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  In a separate mixing bowl, whisk egg until broken up.  Add sugar and whisk until combined.  Whisk in pumpkin, molasses, butter, and milk. 


3. Add crystallized ginger to dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Add pumpkin mixture and fold with rubber spatula until batter comes together and ginger is evenly distributed.  Do not overmix.


4. Divide batter among 8 muffin cups.  Bake until toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  Cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove from pan and serve.




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I think Tuesday snuck up on a lot of the Tuesdays with Dorie members this week. I know it did for me. I’ve been holding onto last week as much as possible, with the long weekend and the holiday largely dedicated to food (oh yeah, and being thankful) and the turkey and the pie and mostly the long weekend. But going back to work yesterday made it hit me that I better get crackin’ on making this week’s recipe.


I’m glad Dennis picked a fairly simple recipe this week, so I could get the whole thing done Monday after work. Fortunately, I happened to have three bags of walnuts in the pantry that each had just a little bit left, and together made just enough ground nuts for me to make this recipe.


Some people who made the recipe before me suggested rolling out the dough thinner than Dorie’s recommended ¼-inch, so I took that advice. I’m glad I did, because I can see how that would have made some pretty thick cookies. The only other issue I had was a result of my super cheap cookie cutters, which were determined to hold onto the cut cookie dough instead of releasing it onto the baking sheet. I will be adding cookie cutters to my Christmas list.


I really enjoyed the cookies. The spice was a really nice addition, and the texture was this great tender-crisp combination. I don’t know that crisp is the right word, but they’re definitely not soft and chewy. Sablé, meaning sand, is really the right name for these cookies. I didn’t add enough jam to mine, but that wasn’t a big deal. Dave and I agreed that they’re a very nice cookie for Christmas.

You can find the recipe on Dennis’ blog.

One year ago: Crockpot Rice and Beans – I really love this meal.  We’re actually having it for dinner tonight.


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