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Missing Majorca: Orange Marmalade and Chocolate Crumble Muffins

30 Aug

Oh, sweet summer, where did you go? I long for the lazy afternoons lounging by the pool, soaking in the golden sun rays, the mornings when I would wake up with no plans- those days are gone now as the school year has officially begun. Say goodbye to popsicles and impromptu weeknight barbecues and hello to piles of homework, furious studying, and curfews. One of the most memorable weeks of my vacation was spent on the beautiful Spanish island of Majorca, where my family and I hiked miles to secluded island coves, ate simple meals of fresh seafood, and disovered a quaint citrus stand selling marmalade of oranges plucked from the nearby groves.

We happened upon this stand while strolling through the tiny, mountain village of Deía and knew that we had to purchase a jar to take home with us as a souvenir. I certainly wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity to capture this fun foodie moment. In classic blogger fashion, I whipped out my Canon and began snapping away photos.

I first sampled the marmalade with a dab of butter spread on a crusty French baguette. The citrusy flavor was so pronounced and vibrant, unlike the overly-sweet jarred stuff we’re used to in The States. I immediately began dreaming up ways to incorporate the marmalade into a baked good and after much deliberation, I ended up with these awesome Orange Marmalade and Chocolate Crumble Muffins. 

The orange flavor really shines in this recipe without being overbearing, contrasting well with the slightly bitter dark chocolate chunks. The interior of the muffin is tender and subtly moist and crowned with a generous crumble topping. Since marmalade is the key ingredient in this recipe, make sure you invest in a quality brand- maybe from your local farmers’ market.

Recipe barely adapted from The Pioneer Woman 

For the muffin batter:
4 cups all-purpose flour 
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tblsp baking powder 
1/2 cup cold butter  
1 3/4 cups orange marmalade 
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
2 eggs, beaten 
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

For the crumble topping:
3/4 cup granulated sugar 
1 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tblsp, plus 1 tsp melted butter 
1/4 tsp salt 

Makes around 24 muffins.

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sift together the flour, sugar, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter or fork to incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients. Mix the marmalade, orange juice, beaten eggs, and vanilla extract in a small bowl and add the mixture to the dry ingredients.   Gently mix all the ingredients together, using fewer than 10 large strokes with a wooden spoon. Do not overmix; the batter should be just barely combined. Before the last few stirs, fold in the chocolate chunks. In a small bowl, mix all the topping ingredients together (the mixture should be clumpy).
2. Fill the lined muffin tins almost to the top with batter. Sprinkle one heaping teaspoon of topping over each muffin. 
3. Bake the muffins for 20-22 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to cool on a wire rack. 


Nancy Silverton’s Bran Muffins and Lessons Learned At a Food Photography Workshop

2 Jul

Recipe slightly adapted from Pastries From La Brea Bakery, via David Lebovitz 

2 cups wheat bran
1 cup dark raisins 
1 cup, plus 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk or plain yogurt 
Zest of half an orange
1/4-1/3 cup brown sugar, depending on how sweet you like your muffins 
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg 
1 large egg white 
1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
1/4 cup whole wheat flour 
1 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt 

Makes 12 muffins.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. 
2. Spread the wheat bran evenly on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for six to eight minutes, stirring a few times to ensure the bran cooks evenly. Allow to cool completely. While the bran is toasting, heat the raisins with 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the raisins have absorbed all the water. Puree the plumped raisins in a small food processor until smooth. 
3. In a large bowl, mix together the cooled bran, buttermilk or yogurt, and additional one cup water. Mix in the raisin puree, orange zest, and brown sugar. Once these ingredients are thoroughly combined, add the oil, egg, and egg white. Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt directly into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. At this moment, you may add an additional 1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit of your preference into the batter. 
4. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, making sure the batter is mounded slightly on each one. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins feel set in the center. 

          Since I started my blog two years ago, I have become a better baker, traveled to new, exciting destinations, and gained experience as a writer. While I am pleased by how this site has grown from the day I first launched, I still grappled, until recently, with one crucial aspect of blogging: photography. I felt as though the camera controlled me, its various buttons and features overwhelming me every time I attempted to snap a shot. That was until I attended my first natural light food photography workshop, taught by Christina Peters and Amy Paliwoda of MDR Photography in Los Angeles. 
          The seven-hour course covered the fundamentals of photography and food styling, everything from white balance and aperture to product placement and color stories. I learned invaluable information about my camera and how to manipulate technical settings and light in order to achieve the ideal shot. It was also a pleasure to interact with the other bloggers and foodies who participated in the class. I left the studio with newfound knowledge and confidence in my photography abilities and the contact information of some of the lovely people I met.
          Now, let’s talk muffins. I bookmarked this recipe a while ago then promptly shifted my attention to more vibrant items in my queue. However, when my mom requested a good bran muffin last week, I knew exactly where to turn. These bran muffins are lighter and airier than any other version I have tried. There is plenty of hearty bran flavor packed into each bite and the raisin puree provides a tone of earthy sweetness without adding sugar. Paired with some fresh fruit and yogurt, this is a breakfast pastry you can feel good about. It allows you to start your day energized and satisfied, unlike the guilt you endure after indulging in a buttery cheese danish. These bran muffins have definitely claimed a spot in my prestigious list of go-to recipes, holding their own among NY Times chocolate chunk cookies and French macarons