Sunday, July 11, 2010

Spice Muffins

If you like molasses cookies, you'll love these spice muffins.The muffins are moist and pleasantly flavored with spices, but the flavor of the whole grain flours comes through. After making these muffins I'm definitely looking forward to trying some of the other recipes using the Multigrain Flour Mix.

I will say that the molasses makes these muffins a pain to get out of the pan-make sure to grease the top of the pans well. I loosened the top of each muffin with a small frosting knife right when the came out of the oven, but let them cool a couple minutes before trying to remove them from the pan, as these muffins are quite tender and delicate, especially when warm. What ended up working best in the end was inverting the entire pan onto a large platter, then quickly transferring them to a cooling rack, before the tops had too much of a chance to stick to the platter. You end up losing a bit of molasses on the platter, but it's much easier that trying to lift each of the muffins out of the pan without breaking off the top.

Spice Muffins
from Good to the Grain

makes 12 muffins

A blend of whole-grain flavors and warm spices are the basis of this muffin. The nut topping, made with molasses and walnuts, is fashioned after the wet walnut topping of the old soda fountain days. Blending softened butter into the dry ingredients and then mixing the batter for a relatively long time gives these muffins their fine, tender crumb. Because they are quite soft, the muffins can be tricky to get out of the pan-using paper liners in the cups will solve this problem.

Butter for the tins

Nut topping:
1 c. walnuts, halves or pieces
1/4 c. unsulphured (not blackstrap) molasses
1 T. sugar
Pinch of kosher salt

Dry Mix:
1.5 c. Multigrain Flour Mix (recipe below)
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. kosher salt
1 T. cinnamon
2 t. ginger
1 t. allspice
1/8 t. cloves

4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

Wet Mix:
1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. unsulphured (not blackstrap) molasses
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the walnuts until golden, about 15 minutes.

2. Lightly butter the top of the muffin tins, then lines the cup with muffin papers. In a medium bowl, stir together the molasses, sugar, and salt. When the nuts are cool, chop them coarsely, stir them into the molasses mixture, and set aside.

3. Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl of a standing mixer, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter.

4. Add the softened butter to the dry ingredients. Attach the bowl and the paddle to the standing mixture and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture is as coarse as cornmeal, about 1 minute.

5. In a medium bowl, whisk together then wet ingredients until thoroughly combined. Scrape the wet ingredients into the mixing bowl and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to high and mix for 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

6. Scoop the batter into 12 muffin cups, using a spoon or an ice cream scoop. The batter should be about even with the tops. Stir the walnut topping to evenly coat the nuts with the molasses. Top the center of each muffin with a spoonful of the nut topping and press the nuts into the batter slightly.

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.

7. Bake for 24 to 26 minutes, rotating the tins halfway through. The muffins are ready to come out when their tops are dark brown and the nuts are toasty and carmelized. Take the pan out of the oven and allow to cool slightly, as the molasses topping is still extremely hot.

8. When the muffins are still slightly warm, twist each muffin out and place it on a baking rack to cool. If the muffins cool in the pan, the nut topping may stick to the pan and make it very difficult to remove them. If this happens, pop the muffins back into a 350 degree F oven for a minute to soften the molasses. These muffins are best eaten the day they're made. They can also be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Multigrain Flour Mix:
1 c. whole-wheat flour
1 c. oat flour
1 c. barley flour
1/2 c. millet flour
1/2 c. rye flour
Combine flours and mix well.

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