Carrot Spice Muffins

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These carrot muffins are delicious both fresh and after they’ve sat longer.  Just out of the oven, they have a lovely thin crisp crust; wait a little and the spice flavors will deepen.  Because they are not very sweet, they make a great breakfast or snack.

 

Carrot Spice Muffins
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 12 muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3-1/2 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you want them
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar OR 1/3 cup white sugar+dollop molasses
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely shredded carrots
  • 1/3 cup moist raisins
  • 1/3 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted, cooled, and chopped if you have the patience (I didn’t and the muffins tasted great anyway)
  • 1/3 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.  Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in the brown sugar OR white sugar; making certain there are no lumps (this is more an issue if you’re using brown sugar).
  3. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and molasses (if using) together until well combined.
  4. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend.  A few lumps are preferable to overmixing the batter.
  5. Stir in carrots, raisins, nuts, and coconut.
  6. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
  8. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.
  9. The muffins are best the first day, but you can store them, covered, at room temperature for a few days.  Split and toast them, or zap them for 10-15 seconds in the microwave to heat them.

Corn Muffins

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These corn muffins have a fun texture, what with the coarse cornmeal and the corn kernels throughout.  They’re not too sweet, so they make the perfect breakfast or snack.

 

Corn Muffins
From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 12 muffins

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 cup buttermilk OR 1/3 cup plain yogurt+2/3 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons corn oil OR other vegetable oil, such as canola
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 – 1 1/3 cups corn kernels, fresh, frozen, or canned (in which case they should be drained and patted dry)

 

 

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400°F.  Butter or spray the 12 muffin molds in a regular-size muffin tin, or line with paper muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg (if using).
  3. In a large glass measuring cup with a spout or in another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, oil, egg, and yolk until well blended.
  4. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – the batter will be lumpy and that’s just the way it should be.
  5. Stir in corn kernels.
  6. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
  7. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
  8. Cool muffins in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove muffins from pan.  They are great warm or at room temperature.
  9. The muffins are best eaten the day they are made. If you want to keep them, it’s best to wrap them airtight and pop them into the freezer, where they’ll keep for about 2 months.  Re-warm in a 350°F oven, or split and toast them.

Cranberry Scones

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This is another recipe that my friend John discovered and that we made together back in undergrad.  These scones are crumbly and sweet and have almost a cake-like texture.  They’re wonderful fresh out of the oven, either on their own or spread with clotted cream and jam.  If you have leftovers, toast them briefly before eating.

Original recipe

 

Cranberry Scones
Adapted from All Recipes

Yield: 12 large scones

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried cranberries OR raisins

 

  1. In a small bowl, stir together sour cream and baking soda, and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a large baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed.
  4. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  5. Beat in baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt.
  6. On low speed, beat in flour just until it all disappears, taking care not to over-mix.
  7. Still on low speed, beat in sour cream mixture just until it all disappears, again taking care not to over-mix.
  8. Stir in cranberries.
  9. Knead dough briefly in the bowl.
  10. Form dough into scones.  You have 2 options:
    • Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and roll or pat it into a circle 3/4 inch thick.  Cut into 12 wedges and space 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
    • Divide dough into 12 equal pieces and shape each into a rough triangle 3/4 inch thick directly on the baking sheet, spacing scones 2 inches apart.
  11. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until golden on the tops and golden-brown on the bottoms.

Great Grains Muffins

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To me, these muffins are the perfect breakfast or snack food.  They’re not very sweet and have a great texture from the oats, cornmeal, and dried fruit.  As a bonus, the tops are nice and crunchy.

 

Great Grains Muffins
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 12 muffins

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons – 1/4 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you want them
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk OR 1/2 cup plain yogurt+1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4-1 cup quartered moist, plump prunes, other dried fruits (cut up as necessary) and/or chopped nuts (optional)

 

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400ºF. Butter or spray a regular-size 12-mold muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups.  Place muffin pan on a baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, cornmeal, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together buttermilk OR yogurt+milk, maple syrup, eggs, and melted butter.
  4. Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – if the batter is a bit lumpy, that’s fine.
  5. Stir in the fruit and/or nuts, if using.
  6. Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups.  It will basically fill each muffin cup.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
  8. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then carefully lift each muffin out of its mold and onto the rack to cool.  They taste best the day they’re made, but you can split and toast them the following day.  To keep them longer, wrap them airtight and keep in the freezer for up to 2 months.  Rewarm in the oven at 350ºF, or split and toast them.

Bagels

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If you don’t live near a good bagel shop or if you just enjoy a challenge, these bagels are really fun to make and taste great.

To mix home-made high-gluten flour, we combined 98% King Arthur bread flour with 2% Bob’s Red Mill wheat gluten (which said it was 75-80% gluten) by weight.  Although I rarely weigh out my ingredients, this recipe is a lot simpler if you use a kitchen scale!

Original recipe

 

Bagels
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Yield: 12 bagels

For sponge:

  • 1 teaspoon (0.11 oz) instant yeast OR active dry yeast
  • 4 cups (18 oz) unbleached high-gluten flour OR bread flour OR home-made high-gluten flour (see above)
  • 2 1/2 (20 oz) cups warm water

For dough

  • 1/2 teaspoon (0.055 oz) instant yeast OR active dry yeast
  • 3 3/4 cups (17 oz) unbleached high-gluten flour OR bread flour OR home-made high-gluten flour (see above)
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons (0.7 oz) salt
  • 2 teaspoons (0.33 oz) malt powder OR 1 tablespoon (0.5 oz) dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar

To Finish:

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting baking sheets
  • Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt, rehydrated dried minced garlic or onions, ground cinnamon, etc.

 

Day 1:

  1. To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl.
  2. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter).
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly.  It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the counter.
  4. To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir.
  5. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and malt.
  6. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen the dough.
  7. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine). The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all ingredients should be hydrated. The dough should pass the windowpane test. If the dough seems dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.
  8. Immediately divide the dough into 12 (4.5-oz) pieces and form them into balls.
  9. Cover the balls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.
  10. Line 2 sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil.
  11. Poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2.5 inches in diameter. The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible (try to avoid thick and thin spots.)
  12. Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pans. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and slip each pan into a food-grade plastic bag, or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
  13. Place pan in refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days).

Day 2:

  1. Position racks to divide oven into thirds and preheat to 500ºF.  While oven preheats, bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better; it doesn’t have to be very deep), and add the baking soda.  Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.
  2. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minute, flip them over and boil for another minute.
  3. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour.  (If you decide to replace the paper, be sure to spray the new paper lightly with spray oil to prevent the bagels from sticking to the surface.)
  4. If you want to top the bagels, do so as soon as they come out of the water.  You can use any of the suggestions in the ingredients list or a combination thereof.
  5. When all the bagels have been boiled, bake bagels for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180º rotation.  (If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180º.)
  6. After the rotation, continue baking for 5-10 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer.
  7. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.

Cream Scones

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Serve these scones fresh out of the oven with clotted cream, jam, and Earl Grey tea for an English tea party.

 

Cream Scones
From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 12 scones

  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
  • 3/4 cup moist, plump currants OR dried cranberries

 

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together egg and cream.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour.
  5. Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly.  The pieces will range in size from oatmeal flakes to peas.
  6. Add currants OR cranberries and toss with a fork to mix in.
  7. Pour egg and cream over dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together.  Don’t overdo it.
  8. Still in the bowl, gently knead dough by hand, or turn it with a rubber spatula 8-10 times.
  9. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out dough.
  10. Divide it in half.
  11. Working with one piece at a time, pat dough into a rough circle about 5 inches in diameter, cut it into 6 wedges, and place it on the baking sheet.  (At this point, the scones can be frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight. Don’t defrost before baking; just add about 2 minutes to the baking time.)
  12. Bake scones for 20-22 minutes, or until their tops are golden and firm-ish.
  13. Transfer them to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving, or wait for them to cool to room temperature.  They’re best soon after they’re made.
  14. Scones can be cooled to room temperature, wrapped airtight, and frozen for up to 2 months.  They can be reheated in the oven at 350ºF.

 

 

 

Chinese Hot Dog Buns

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I’ve found that Chinese hot dog buns are great travel foods – you can pack them for a long car ride or plane flight.  They’re also good for lunch in general.  Of course you can find them in any Chinese bakery, but if you don’t live near one, now you can make them yourself.  The advantage to that is picking your favorite type of hot dog.  I prefer Hebrew International’s 97% Fat-Free Beef Franks…because they seem a little healthier.

Original recipe

Chinese Hot Dog Buns
Adapted from Woks of Life

For the bread:

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, at room temperature or slightly warm
  • 1 cup+1 tablespoon milk, at room temperature or slightly warm
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose OR cake flour, tap measuring cup to avoid air pockets
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour, tap measuring cup to avoid air pockets
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

For the filling:

  • 12 hot dogs
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water

For the simple syrup (optional):

  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons hot water

 

  1. Fit a stand mixer with the dough hook.  In the bowl of the mixer, add heavy cream, milk, egg, sugar, all-purpose OR cake flour, bread flour, yeast, and salt, in that order.
  2. Stir them together with a wooden spoon until all the flour is moistened.  This way flour won’t fly everywhere when you turn on the mixer.
  3. Set mixer on “stir” for 15 minutes, occasionally stopping the mixer to push the dough together.  It will feel somewhat sticky.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until the dough grows to 1.5 times its original size.
  5. While the dough proofs, heat oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add hot dogs and allow them to crisp slightly.  (I found out the hard way that this step seals juices inside the hot dogs so they don’t make the surrounding dough soggy.)
  6. Line a plate with paper towel to absorb excess oil and put hot dogs on it to cool.
  7. After dough finishes proofing, return it to the mixer and stir for another 5 minutes to get rid of air bubbles.
  8. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or with aluminum foil.  If using foil, spray it with cooking spray.
  9. Flour a work surface, turn dough onto it, and cut it into 12 equal pieces.
  10. Roll each piece into a 12-14 inch rope, keeping the middle thicker than the ends.
  11. Roll each rope around a hot dog, tucking in the ends. Repeat until you have 12 hot dog buns.
  12. Place buns on baking sheet, spacing 2-3 inches apart.  Cover lightly with a kitchen towel or paper towel.
  13. Let buns proof in a warm spot for 1 hour, until they almost double in size.  After 45 minutes of proofing, position racks to divide the oven in thirds and preheat to 350ºF.
  14. Whisk egg with water to make egg wash.
  15. When buns finish rising, remove kitchen or paper towel and brush buns with egg wash.
  16. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until golden brown in color.  Rotate pans halfway through baking.
  17. If desired, dissolve sugar in hot water to make simple syrup.
  18. Remove pans from oven.  If using the simple syrup, brush buns with it to make them shiny and sweet.  (I skipped this part and the bread tasted good anyway.)  The buns taste best the first day.  If they last any longer, you can store them in the freezer in a Ziploc bag.  Defrost overnight and toast briefly.