Strawberry Rhubarb Bran Muffins

For the last few weeks I've been resisting the rhubarb at the farmer's market for no particular reason. I didn't have anything specific in mind for what to do with it, so I kept walking right on by. However, this past week I realized that if I didn't pick some up it would soon be gone, and then I would be very sad that I didn't enjoy this lovely spring vegetable (?) when I had the chance. First thing up, some baking with the classic strawberry rhubarb combination. I couldn't resist. Why mess with success? 

I recently ran across this simple bran muffin recipe and thought it looked like a winner. Sweetened with molasses and a little honey as well as a some applesauce, it's definitely more on the healthier side of the muffin spectrum. Since I almost never have applesauce around, I replaced it with mashed banana making these strawberry rhubarb banana bran muffins. Yes, the banana adds some of it's characteristic flavor to the muffin, but with the deep flavor of molasses as well as the strawberry and rhubarb it's really not that noticeable. Plus, I love bananas so it didn't matter that much to me. If you prefer a more neutral flavor, stick with the original applesauce. 

I halved this recipe and ended up making 8 muffins. I was going to make 6 but there was too much batter for that! This may be due to the fact that I just threw in a banana that had been hanging out in my freezer for far too long without measuring it. The batter was likely a little wetter than it was supposed to be, but it all worked out deliciously in the end!

These muffins turned out moist and sticky, strongly flavored with molasses so if you're not such a huge molasses fan just be warned. I'm guessing you can replace some of the molasses with a little more honey, but I haven't tried that yet. However, these muffins were so easy and nutritions that I know I'll be experimenting with them more in the future. 

 
 

Strawberry Rhubarb Bran Muffins
Adapted from Food 52
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (30 grams) wheat bran
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of a mix of chopped rhubarb and strawberries
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup (85 grams) molasses
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup mashed banana
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, whisk together the wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the strawberries and rhubarb to the flour mixture.

In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, molasses, honey, egg, banana, and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Place 12 paper cups in a muffin pan, or grease the cups. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Pumpkin Morning Glory Bread

Happy Sunday!! Need something for the week? I did. Carrots, pumpkin, warm spices, and toasty walnuts all come together in this fresh and fragrant quick bread. Two vegetables in one loaf and you wouldn't even know it. A little oil for richness, and a little molasses for subtle sweetness, it's the perfect combination. I've been wanted to make a morning glory bread or muffin for a while now but I never seemed to have carrots at the right time. Yesterday however, everything came together at the perfect moment to bring me this lovely loaf. I'm halfway through a two week stretch of nights, and this little bread is going to help get me through the final week. Having this to look forward to in the mornings at the end of a long night is going to be the perfect way to end the shift.

I found a nice looking recipe for a morning glory loaf of my pinterest board that has been hanging around for a while, but of course had to make a few adjustments based on my preferences and what I had around. The only thing I was missing that I didn't have anything to substitute for was dried fruit, raisins, or cranberries as the original recipe called for. That's pretty traditional in morning glory muffins but I just had to do without this time. I had all of the other important things though; carrots, coconut, walnuts. The original recipe called for applesauce, but I used pumpkin instead which worked like a charm, and then I threw in a few pumpkin seeds too since it seemed fitting. 

The recipe called for maple syrup as the sweetener, but since I was running a little low I decided to go with molasses instead. Baking up, this bread smelled amazing! Like gingerbread due to the molasses and spices. But don't worry, the finished product doesn't really taste like gingerbread, it's just fragrant with spices and a hint of rich molasses flavor. Each slice is soft and light and moist. Perfect on it's own, or jazz it up with a pat of real butter, or your favorite nut butter. Breakfast is served. 

 
 

Pumpkin Morning Glory Loaf
Heavily adapted from Wholehearted Eats
Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) spelt (or whole wheat) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (150 grams) pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (84 grams) molasses (or maple syrup)
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (115 grams) grated carrots, about 2 medium carrots
  • 1/4 cup (25 grams) coconut
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts
  • 1/4 cup (25 grams) raw pumpkin seeds
  • Turbinado sugar for topping, optional

Directions
Line a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside. 

In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, soda, spices and salt. In another bowl combine egg, oil, pumpkin, molasses, and sugar. Whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until halfway combined.

Stir in the carrot, coconut, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds and mix just until combined.

Pour the batter into a parchment lined pan. Sprinkle the top with some extra pumpkin seeds and turbinado sugar, and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. 

Yields: 10-12 slices

 

Gramercy Tavern’s Gingerbread

We had our Christmas party for my mom's side of the family yesterday. It was a wonderful time of food, conversation and festivities! I had such a fun time seeing everyone and catching up on what is going on in everyone's lives. Of course I offered to supply a few dishes to the lunch menu along with a few other family members. Everything turned out deliciously from the roasted beef tenderloin provided by my grandma to the salads and desserts brought by everyone else. My contribution to the dessert table this year was a rich and dark gingerbread cake that I had spotted on Smitten Kitchen some time ago. It had intrigued me, but until now I had never had the opportunity to make it. Gingerbread is not really something you can make year round so I was excited to have the opportunity to try it out. 

I ended up loving the cake. It really does pack a punch of flavor thanks to the oatmeal stout, the dark molasses, and the 2 tablespoons of ground ginger. It is an intense cake, definitely not for the faint at heart. A scoop of ice cream or a dollop of freshly whipped cream are the perfect accompaniment. I think a simple lemon glaze or some lemon curd would also be wonderful options. If you're looking for something different from the typical sugar cookies or chocolate cake this Christmas, give this cake a try, it will be difficult to forget. 

Other than needing to go out and buy a few extra ingredients to make this cake (the stout and the dark molasses) there was nothing difficult about this cake. I mixed it all together by hand, didn't even need a mixer thanks to the use of oil. It came together easily and baked up beautifully, perfectly done at 50 minutes, exactly as the recipe said. 

From what I read about this cake, it is very prone to stick to the pan so I heeded all the advice I read and made sure to butter and flour my bundt pan very, very throughly. It seemed to work as I didn't have really any sticking at all. However, my bundt pan is pretty new and releases cakes easily. My old bundt pan was notorious for having cakes stick and come out in two or more pieces, not so pretty. But regardless of how nice your pan is, I'd advise making sure you spend a little extra time greasing and flouring it up before pouring the batter in. It would be so disappointing to have this cake fall apart on it's way out of the pan. 

Gramercy Tavern's Gingerbread

From 

Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
  • 1 cup dark molasses (NOT blackstrap)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cardamom
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Confectioners sugar for dusting

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Very, very, generously butter a bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess. This cake will stick badly if pan is not thoroughly greased. 

Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into bundt pan and rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Serve cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream or ice cream.

Do ahead: I'm told this gingerbread is even better if made a day ahead. I made mine 2 days ahead and it was fantastic. I didn't try it freshly baked, but it didn't appear to suffer at all in the 2 day wait. 

Chewy Molasses Cookies

After days of snow, freezing temperatures, and sub-zero wind chills, there is nothing better than curling up inside on the couch with a cup of coffee, a good book, and a couple of cookies. These chewy molasses cookies are buttery, filled with warm spices and coated with coarse sugar for a crunchy finish. They are the perfect accompaniment for that warm cup of coffee. 

With molasses cookies it always seems like you never know exactly what you are going to get. Will they be too molasses-y? Too spicy? Too hard? Not tasty? Well, set all your fears aside with this recipe. They are the perfect mix. Buttery and sweet with the perfect amount of spice, baked until just barely cooked through leaves them perfectly chewy and soft. A delicious cookie to see you through those cold winter days. 

I actually made these cookies twice in about a week. They turned out absolutely delicious both times, however, while the first batch turned out a little poofy as you can see in the pictures, my second batch turned out incredibly flat, they spread out completely while baking. I don't know what the difference was, I can't think of anything I did differently between the two batches. But both batches were still wonderful though, thank goodness. So however they turn out for you, I am sure they will still be delicious.

UPDATE (12/17/14): I added an extra 1/4 cup of flour and really chilled the dough well before baking and the cookies baked up a lot more poofy!

Chewy Molasses Cookies

Adapted from 

Heart of Gold

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (UPDATE: add an extra 1/4 cup flour to help make the cookies nice and poofy and less likely to spread)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1⁄3 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1⁄3 cup mild-flavored (light) or robust-flavored (dark) molasses 
  • 1⁄4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar 
  • Coarse sanding or raw sugar (for rolling)

Directions

Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 375°. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a small bowl. Combine egg and butter and beat together with a mixer for 4-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add granulated sugar, molasses, and brown sugar and beat for 2-3 minutes more. Mix in dry ingredients just to combine. Chill dough for 20-30 minutes, or longer, until firm enough to handle. 

Place sanding sugar in a shallow bowl. Scoop out dough by the tablespoonful and roll into balls. Roll in sugar and place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2” apart.

Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until cookies are puffed, cracked, and just set around edges (overbaked cookies won’t be chewy), 8–10 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool.