Tag Archives: Oven

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




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.



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.


Thanksgiving Bread Take One: Butternut Squash Muffins

10 Dec

Every year, Chris and his friends get together in early November to share a Thanksgiving dinner together.  We all bring a dish, drink, chat, and enjoy the food.  Chris always brings the sweet potatoes (and they turn out great), but I like to make a dish myself as well.This year most of the traditional dishes were already taken, so I decided to bring the bread.  I looked through Food52.com and found a recipe for a savory muffin.  When I started to make the muffin, Chris exclaimed, “spinach in a muffin, weird.”  I too thought it was a bit strange, but then again maybe it would be amazing.


I cut the squash into cubes, tossed it in EVOO, and baked it until golden brown.


In the meantime, I chopped the spinach, tossed it with parmesan and feta cheese, and beat together milk, eggs, and mustard.  Yea I know, this list of ingredients had me worried as well.  Sometimes you have to bet big to win big, or so I hoped.  I then added the roasted squash cubes to the spinach and poured the egg mixture into one big bowl.


Finally I slowly added the dry ingredients, mixing until barely incorporated.  First the flour, then the baking soda, then the salt, and the wait WHAT…nutmeg…at this point I had to reassure myself that they’d be amazing.

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I evenly distributed the dough into cupcake pans.  This part was a bit tricky since the dough was rather sticky.  I also sprinkled the tops with fresh ground pepper and pressed the remaining into the tops of the tops of the muffins.  Now here is where I royally messed up.  I forgot to also press in the remaining feta cheese on the tops of the muffins.  

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They baked for about 20 minutes at 450.  The product in the end was absolutely beautiful.  The orange of the squash and green of the spinach were vibrant and unexpected on the backdrop of a muffin.


If only they tasted as good as they looked!  They unfortunately turned out a rather dense and difficult to eat.  I think a bunch of melted feta cheese on top would have definitely helped.  Ah well, my big bet didn’t pay off, but it might be worth another go.  I’ll just need to tweak the recipe to make the muffins more fluffy (and I know I can make darn good fluffy muffins) and stick a post it note to the oven reminding me to add the feta cheese to the top!

Chocolate, Good. Espresso, Good. Chocolate Stout Espresso Cupcakes, Amazing!

21 Feb

As Chris mentioned in our post about our lamb dish, we went for a short, 10-mile day hike in O’Neill Regional Park earlier in the day.  I’m not sure what it is about hiking, but it always leaves Chris and I craving beer and comfort food.  While the hike served as inspiration for what to cook, Food52 provided guidance and recipes.  Since starting this blog, I stumbled upon the website Food52, and fell in love with the modern look, pristine photos, and unique recipes.  Within an hour of arriving home with the groceries, I began to throw together our dessert: Chocolate Stout Cupcakes.  While the recipe calls for Guinness, Chris suggested getting a more boutique stout.  He ran off to grab the stout, while I found the mint and ginger (ingredients for other items on the list this week).  When I found him, he had a bottle of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout in our basket.

I started by boiling the water to make espresso from the powder we had on hand (for camping).  Thinking that I was super smart, I skipped the step of warming the stout and mixed together the hot espresso and cold stout.  I then added the butter, only to discover that the liquid was no longer hot enough to melt the 1/2 cup block.  I transferred everything to a microwave safe bowl and heated it up to ease the melting process, melted a second 1/2 cup block of butter (yes there’s that much butter in cupcakes!), and poured it in with the stout and espresso.

Next, I added the dark, unsweetened cocoa powder and vanilla, stirring it all into a nice chocolate liquid to coat the flour and dry ingredients.  I found it curious that this recipe called for melting the butter, while others suggest cutting the butter with sugar.  At this point, I imagined that this cupcake wouldn’t be as light and fluffy as others.

Chris mixed together the dry ingredients while I diligently stirred the chocolate base.  He also blended the eggs and sour cream together into a nice cream mixture.  I then grabbed the hand mixer, and put it on low in the egg and cream mixture while Chris alternated between the chocolate liquid and dry ingredients.  I instructed him to wait until just a second after the last big of dry ingredient disappeared into the mixture before adding more.  We made the perfect team 🙂

We put the cupcakes in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes, rotating them half way through, and they came out just perfectly.  While they were baking I made the powdered sugar, espresso, chocolate glaze.  I accidentally added 1-2 extra tablespoons of water (it’s quite thick and difficult to mix), but overall this was a happy mistake.  The recipe instructs you to dip the cupcakes (and not ice them) in the glaze.  I jumped the gun and tried to do this right away, but failed miserably.  See the cupcakes are still pretty delicate when warm and the glaze is a bit heavy, and when you dip a warm cupcake in the glaze the top of the cupcake falls off into the glaze.  Chris took this opportunity to nab the broken cupcake top and sample my finished product.  He claimed that they were delicious, but I still had work to do.

I took a break, let the cupcakes cool, and then tried again.  This time, it worked.  I dipped each cupcake in the glaze, spooned a bit extra on top if there were gaps or holes, and then placed them on cookie sheets to catch any drips.  We also chose to use my silicone cupcake liners for half of the treats (I only have 12).  While these weren’t great for holding on to the cupcakes while dipping, I actually really liked the look and feel of them.  Note: Plan to make a little more glaze than the recipe recommends.  While I usually have more than enough frosting, I was left with 8 unglazed cupcakes.  We had just picked up some fresh whole bean coffee, so we topped each cupcake off with one bean in the middle.  They weren’t the prettiest cupcakes in the world, but they smelled fantastic.

After our feast of lamb, mash, and chard, I sampled a long-awaited chocolate stout cupcake.  Heavenly!  The texture was certainly different from that of my past cupcakes, but in a beyond delicious way.  The glaze was perfectly sweet, and the roasted bean on top was a pleasant crunch as I devoured the treat.  I usually find myself seeking professional cupcake tasters to finish off the batch that I tire of after 2-3, but this time I’m feeling a bit greedy.  You might just have to steal them from me to get a taste.

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