Sunday, July 4, 2010

Carrot Muffins

For the past few weeks I've been baking scones (from Good to the Grain) on Sunday morning and freezing the extras to eat throughout the weekend. Having a warm baked good (I reheat them in the toaster oven) in the morning before work with my coffee really helps the day start off right. This week I decided to try a muffin recipe from my current cookbook obsession. Just like the scones, I was most definitely not disappointed. The muffins are tender and moist and the allspice pairs perfectly with the sweet carrots and mild spelt.

Carrot Muffins
from Good to the Grain

makes 8 muffins

Scented with allspice and laced with shreds of carrot, these muffins strike a balance between sweetness and spice. The streusel topping adds crunch and extra flavor while the spelt flour and oat bran lend an earthy flavor. This recipe can double as a morning coffee cake-imagine a rustic version of a carrot cake-if you bake the batter in a 9-inch round pan instead of individual muffin cups. Either way, top the batter with streusel before baking.

Streusel Topping:
1/4 c. plus 2 T. spelt flour
2 T. oat bran
2 T. dark brown sugar
1 T. sugar
1/8 t. kosher salt
3 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Dry Mix:
1 c. spelt flour
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. oat bran
1/3 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. allspice
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cinnamon

1.5 c. coarsely grated carrots, about 2 medium

Wet Mix:
2 oz. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 c. buttermilk
1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Rub muffin tins with a 1/3-cup capacity with butter.

Note: To encourage even baking and to allow each muffin enough room to have an individual dome top, fill alternate cups in a 24-cup tin, or use two 12-cup tins.

2. For the streusel topping, measure the flour, oat bran, sugars, and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the butter to the dry mixture. Rub the butter between your fingers, breaking it into smaller bits. Continue rubbing until the mixture feels coarse, like cornmeal. The more quickly you do this, the more the butter will stay solid, which is important for the success of the recipe.

3.  Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain and other ingredients that may remain in the sifter. Stir the carrots into the dry ingredients.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, and egg and whisk until thoroughly combined. Using a spatula, mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

5. Scoop the batter into 8 muffin cups, using a spoon or an ice cream scoop. The batter should be slightly mounded above the edge. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the mounds of batter and press it into the batter slightly.

6. Bake for 32 to 35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. The muffins are ready to come out when the smell nutty and their bottoms are dark golden-brown (twist a muffin out of the pan to check). Remove the tins from the oven, twist each muffin out, and place it on its side in the cup to cool. This ensures that the muffin stays crusty instead of getting soggy. These muffins are best eaten warm from the oven or later that same day. They can also be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or frozen and reheated.

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