Friday, May 25, 2012

Strawberry-almond muffins

Strawberry-almond muffins

A friend of ours just had her first baby! So naturally, I volunteered to bake something for the new parents.

There's a special checklist when baking for new parents. Whatever you make should be at least sort of healthy, so you're adding nutrition to their busy day, not just empty, sugary calories (though some of those are nice, too). It should be non-caffeinated -- skip the espresso-laced recipes here. Skip the boozy ones, too, obviously. And whatever it is, it should be something you can eat with one hand while holding a squirmy baby in the other.

This recipe fit the bill quite nicely, not to mention that it let me use up some of the strawberries I had in the freezer. It's got wheat flour and nuts in it, good grains and protein, and it's not too sugary. Since it's the kind of recipe that provides options for what size and shape you want to create, I went with muffins, 'cause they're easy one-handed food.

I did run into one snafu making these, though it's not one you'll likely encounter: I popped the butter into the microwave to melt it, and seconds later, I heard odd, zapping-type noises. And then, I smelled burning. Apparently, our microwave has quit dying a slow, noisy death and given up the ghost entirely. And there I was, suddenly bereft, microwave-less, with a bowl of mostly-unmelted butter, not wanted to dirty a saucepan but not knowing how else to get it melted. I resorted to cracking the oven door while it was preheating and holding the bowl over the rising heat. I felt very much like a prairie wife, lost without my modern conveniences. And I started fervently hoping that somebody gets us a microwave as a wedding gift. ;)

Kitchen equipment travails aside, I'm not sure if I'd make these muffins a lot, 'cause they tasted very much like healthy food, all wheat and nuts and fruit. But they were pretty tasty and should be good fuel for the new mom and dad. :)

Strawberry-Almond Muffins
Adapted from Eating Well

1 1/2 c wheat flour
1 c regular all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 c buttermilk (or 1 c milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice, left to sit for a few minutes)
2/3 c brown sugar
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 c frozen strawberries, thawed slightly and cut up into chunks
1/2 c sliced almonds, chopped, plus more sliced almonds for topping

1. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt and set aside.
2. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, brown sugar, butter, oil, vanilla and almond extract. Add in the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Stir in the strawberries and almonds.
3. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray, then fill about two-thirds full with batter. Sprinkle sliced almonds on each.
4. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.
5. Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then remove and cool on a rack.

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