Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins


I struggled a bit with this month’s muffin recipe. Originally I was planning on making a new recipe with seasonal ingredients and being all “green” like that. Since I’m from Minnesota I associate January with a complete dearth of living things, so the spice cupboard is where I went to for this month’s “seasonal ingredient:” cinnamon.
I believe I have built up a tolerance for cinnamon, as I thoroughly love the spice. Andy thinks I over-use cinnamon on pancakes, in granola, french toast, apple sauce and oatmeal. He is just silly. Cinnamon is always welcome in those foods and more.

In addition to dreaming up a cinnamon recipe I had a (non)issue of what to do with a gift of coffee-flavored olive oil from Spain. My dear brother and his wife went to Spain for their honeymoon and brought us back a set of deliciously flavored olive oils. The lemon, garlic, and orange flavors went quickly; however, the coffee flavored olive oil lingered. What to do with it? Usually the taste of coffee doesn’t go well with my usual uses for olive oil; pasta, sauteing vegetables, and salad dressing. I finally broke down and admitted to Laura we hadn’t used a part of her gift, which resulted in her wonderful idea to use the coffee olive oil in a baked good. Thanks Laura!
Used up coffee flavored olive oil from Spain
With this in mind I perused my go-to muffin recipe collection and landed upon Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins.  I know that coffee cake is usually an accompaniment to coffee, not an actual ingredient in coffee cake; but... why not?

In addition to the lovely olive oil, Tony and Laura also gave Andy a book for Christmas called Ratio: The Simple Codes behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. This is an awesome book if you’re interested in cooking without recipes or creating your own recipes.

Instead of just using the ratio and adding additional ingredients for my coffee cake muffins, I tried to go half recipe and half ratio. To disastrous results. I learned that I should pay full attention to the ratio and not try to outsmart it. You see, the coffee cake muffin recipe in the book called for cutting butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender. I had just received a pastry blender for Christmas and I was more than excited to use it for the first time. Even if that meant not waiting for the butter to soften fully. This left large clumps of butter that sank to the bottom and burned (in my too hot oven, which was another mistake). The best thing about my first attempt was that I forgot to use my coffee flavored olive oil and therefore I could use it for a more successful future attempt.
I got this through airport security!
To improve my not-so-yummy-but-still-edible cinnamon coffee cake muffins I decided to put my faith in Ratio and only make slight changes to get the flavor I wanted. The first issue to address was burnt bottoms. The solution was to melt the butter for use in the main muffin, I could use the coffee olive oil in place of some of the butter. For the filling I would be patient and wait for butter to warm and then cut the soft butter into it with my awesome pastry blender. Instead of a filling I transitioned this bit into a topping so it could be fully enjoyed and not lost within the muffin.

The muffins were half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour, which added an unwelcome amount of density. I had two solutions for this issue, one that the average baker can fix and one that really shouldn’t be a problem. First, whenever using whole wheat flour it’s a good idea to accompany it with vital gluten for gluten development and increased fluff. In my case, since I ground the whole wheat flour I sifted out the bigger bits that didn’t grind fully. Also, stirring less vigorously always helps.
So how did it work out to put my faith fully in Ratio? It worked! These are probably the most beautiful and evenly textured muffins I’ve made. I’m completely converted on this ratio business and I plan on adjusting recipes from Muffin Madness 2011 to this ratio and see how they turn out. Especially these... and these. And probably these too.

At first I wasn’t excited to make the same sort of muffins again, but they couldn’t have turned out more different. I’m happy that I went for it and “tested” my recipe. It’ll be something I’ll have to do a lot if I really want to get into this muffin business. If you try this recipe out, please let me know how it works for you!

1 cup (4 oz) all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 oz) whole wheat flour
½ cup + 1 tbs (4 oz) granulated sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
2 tsp vital gluten
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup (just a little under) or 8 oz milk
2 large eggs
6 tbs butter (melted)
1 oz coffee flavored olive oil (or just use 8 tbs of butter)

¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tbs brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tbs butter (softened)

How To
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare your muffin tin, mine made about 10 good sized muffins.

In a large bowl, stir together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, cinnamon, vital gluten, baking powder and salt.  In a smaller bowl whisk up your eggs, then add milk, melted butter and olive oil (if using).  Add liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl, stir slowly and carefully combine.

In another, even smaller, bowl add all topping ingredients and cut in soft butter with a pastry blender. Blend ingredients together until butter chunks are roughly pea sized. Allegedly you can do this with two knifes or some such magic, I’ve never been able to accomplish that feat, so I recommend getting yourself a pastry blender.

Add muffins to prepared tin, sprinkle topping on generously.  Bake for 10 minutes, rotate pan and continue baking for 10 to 15 more minutes.  Enjoy your muffins!

No comments:

Post a Comment