While I may have borrowed and then adapted this column’s title from the Robert Bolt play A Man for all Seasons, there are in fact some recipes that can be modified easily by season. If you can create a recipe that covers all your bases and then update or change the rest to suit your preferences or seasonal availability…well, hence the title.
I like cooking. I really, really do. But the thing I love more than anything else, and I have managed not to overload my columns with the subject; is baking. I bake a lot.
I mean, a lot.
I made my younger sister’s birthday cake last year (angel food with chocolate frosting and chocolate-dipped strawberries on top), and she’s requested I do the same thing this year. I tried my hand at a wedding cake this summer, as well as wedding cupcakes. I made a quadruple chocolate cheesecake that my sugar-junkie boyfriend said was so rich he could barely finish his piece. He also said it was the best thing he’d ever eaten in his life.
However, he also said that about the stuffed French toast that I topped with fresh peaches and strawberries. Fickle!
Most of my recipes are small and simple. They usually get more complex around holidays or birthdays. However, that probably has something to do with my willingness to take requests and implement them.
While my baking often tends toward desserts, I’ve been wanting to branch out by learning how to make bread the way my mother does. Mom creates the most unbelievably amazing breads without even thinking about it. Most of the time, she doesn’t actually use a recipe or measure, so it might be difficult for me to pick it up on the fly.
I’ve been trying to create a standard muffin recipe, and I think I have finally succeeded.
The recipe is based off several others that I’ve combined and condensed. While some of the ingredients are not locally-grown, the majority can be. Honestly, while I might have a preference for locally-grown, there are some things a baker can’t do without. Vanilla. Brown Sugar. Cinnamon. Those are the three that come to mind first, but I can probably list another half-dozen. It’s worth the occasional indulgence to have those things, at least in my mind. After all, how do you make Vanilla Buttercream Frosting without…well…vanilla?
But here are the seasonal muffins, in all their delicious glory. Moist, flavorful, with a hint of sweetness, these muffins are truly fit for any season.
2 cups of flour
½ cup of brown sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups milk
¼ cup melted butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a muffin tin, or put paper liners in the muffin tin.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together until well combined.
Add the milk, egg and melted butter, stirring continuously until the batter is well-blended. * (Makes around 12-15 muffins)
I’m going to take a minute, and go on a tangent about the seasonal aspects. Try switching ingredients such as vegetables, fruits, and even spices, trying sweet, savory, or sweet-savory combinations. During different seasons you could substitute:
- 1 cup of blueberries, raspberries or blackberries
- 6-8 diced strawberries and 1 diced banana
- 1 cup of grated zucchini or pumpkin
- Orange or lemon zest
- Cheese sprinkles, garlic, or jalapenos
The only limitation is what you want or don’t want in a muffin. Cherry muffins? With goat cheese? Why not? I might try putting some rhubarb and strawberries in a muffin at some point. That sounds pretty good to me. Or maybe some cooked and diced sweet potato… and a quick note as well – if you’re looking for a vegan recipe, I found this really simple one for healthy pumpkin muffins on Foodaciously – check it out!
Add whatever you’ve decided to put in your muffins (fruit or vegetable) and stir well. Put into muffin tins (about ½ full) and bake approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean.
–Alexandra Klein, Transition Voice