Tag Archives: Blackberry

A Blast From the Past: 1950s Muffins

10 Feb

This past Wednesday, I had plenty of blackberries left in the fridge and not enough appetite for blackberry oatmeal or blackberry yogurt breakfasts.  I searched my favorite recipe site Food52.com and found retro black berry muffins.  The author of the recipe cites the “Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book” from 1955.  I was curious to discover if the muffins from the 1950s were any different, so I set the oven to preheat and got to work!

Here’s a look at the fresh blackberries that I chopped

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Next I mixed the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.  I could already tell at this point that this muffin had the makings of something much denser than my 21st century muffins.

IMG_0829IMG_0827IMG_0832Yup, much, much thicker than usual.  I should add here that the recipe called for a long-lost ingredient – shortening.  Does anyone really keep that on hand anymore?  Can you still find it in stores?  Ah well, I read up on it and found that I could substitute oil for melted shortening, but that I should expect a different (read not ideal) texture.

I kept mixing until everything was just incorporated and then divided it into a muffin pan.  This step was a rather sticky event.

IMG_0833IMG_0835I popped the pan into my preheated oven, and fretted over the small amount of sugar in the recipe.  Only 2 tablespoons!  These muffins dough balls were becoming bland, dense bricks in the oven.  I had to think of something quick.  I threw together a maple soaked oatmeal crumble topping and spread it on the muffins.  Unfortunately half of the baking time had already passed by the time I did this, so the topping did not stick very well to the tops of the muffins.

IMG_0836Once the muffins were back in the oven, I cleaned up my mess and relaxed.  All I could do at that point was wait.

When the timer went off the muffins looked and smelled done, but the topping looked like it would just fall off when I took them out of the pan.  I popped them back in at a high temp for a short time hoping that could help seal the tops a bit more.

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These 1950s blackberry biscuits (definitely cannot call them muffins) were okay.  As expected, they were a bit more dense and dry.  The topping helped, but it did crumble off a bit.  The next morning I served them warm with a bit of syrup and half a banana.  I figured every biscuit is better with gravy, so maybe the blackberry variety is better with syrup.  It was.  Chris had two.

IMG_0843I wouldn’t call my trip to cooking’s past a complete success, but it gave us a quick snack/breakfast for a few mornings.  I also had two just before my run this morning.  They gave me the perfect amount of energy.  I might try to play around with the recipe a bit more, or I might keep my focus on muffins from the here and now.  Either way it was a fun journey and now I know what a 1950s muffin tastes like.

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Blackpeachrange Tartlets on a Sunday Night

23 Jan

This past Sunday evening, I had a hankering for something sweet. As you’ve no doubt noticed when we get a sweet-tooth, we bake. So I started to sift through desserts on Epicurious.com trying to find something delicious to cook up.

Here’s the problem – we had no eggs.

Since pretty much every dessert recipe under the sun (related to baking anyhow) includes eggs I had a problem. Then I remembered that we could make tarts.

A while back (not sure if we blogged about it here), we made a delicious lemon tart. I remember it distinctly, because I’d never run across a crust that when complete (prior to baking), was completely crumbly. Like, not bonding, or sticking together at all after you finish food-processing it. This recipe didn’t use any eggs what-so-ever (vegans pay attention).

So, I tried to find that particular recipe again, aiming to make a blackberry tart (as we still had some in the fridge from earlier in the week). I searched…and searched…and searched. Completely failed in my Google-Fu. You’d think that if you search for “Blackberry tart without eggs,” or “Blackberry tart no eggs,” that you would be successful. It took me over 30 minutes of looking to find the first recipe without eggs.

Anyhow, I should have seen that as a sign I should give up on the idea for the evening…but no I continued on, blissfully unaware of what was to come…

Eventually I found one – and it’s not linked here because I cleared my browsing history… Basically, it’s a “mix it all together and food process the hell out of it” recipe. The problem was, we only had 1/2 a stick of butter (out of the requisite 1 stick). Strike 2 in recipeville. So, I ended up adding the difference in soft-spread margarine. The main difference was the final dough was slightly stickier than I would have expected for an eggless recipe. Anyhow, I did process the hell out of it, using a spatula ever so often to pull additional flour away from the edges to fold into the dough.

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I had already pulled our tartlet pans out (yes, we actually have tartLET pans). And began to pack to dough into them. It made four, and I tossed them into the oven to start baking while I turned to the filling.

So, remember that “package” of blackberries that I had mentioned? Yep, about 1/2 a pack left. Strike 3. So at this point, I pulled a “Chris cooking without Colleen’s adult supervision” and  started to wing it.

I crushed up the blackberries into a pot (with my hands – squishing the juices out of the little buggers – and yes, it was QUITE cathartic), then proceeded to rummage in the fridge for other, possibly, complimentary flavors. I found some not too ripe peaches, that were starting to shrivel from the cold. I sliced them up and tossed them in with the blackberries. Next I added some orange juice (I really have no idea how much exactly) and a poured about four seconds-worth of sugar. I cranked up the heat and let it stew for about 20 minutes.

I pulled out the cornstarch next and added about 3 tablespoons of it to the mixture (which by this time was frothing and bubbling like a cauldron). I figured that it’s about 1 tablespoon of cornstarch per cup of liquid (I think I read that somewhere), and it looked like it was “about” 3 cups of liquid.


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I spent the next 20 minutes whisking the mixture like a mad-man trying to break up the clumps of cornstarch. Pro tip: when you’re adding cornstarch to a liquid, first mix it with liquid to form a paste before adding it to the liquid.

Onwards. It actually tasted delicious. I took the mixture, and poured it into the newly cleaned food-processor and then blended it well so that it appeared to be a purple jelly. By this time a quick check of the crusts revealed them to be nice and golden brown. I popped them out of the oven and then poured the purple goo into their centers, and then returned it to the oven for another 5 minutes.

I shouldn’t have – that was just enough for the nice golden brown crust to go only slightly brown. If this has ever happened to you with a butter crust you know that the flavor is still ok, it’s just that the texture gets hard as a rock, really fast. Regardless, after the five minutes, I pulled them out of the oven and set them aside to cool.

Voila! Blackberry/Peach/Orange tartlets. They were actually quite delicious, albeit hard around the edges. The inside crust was perfectly cooked and Colleen raved about the filling. I’m going to count it as a success.

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Oh, and I have only some idea of how to recreate them. Sometimes things come to mind with madness, never to return…

 

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