Fall day + warm oven = Goodies!

October 24, 2009

I’m baking today. Which is noteworthy, because I don’t do it much.

I felt like bran muffins this morning. Had a box of All-Bran sitting in the pantry since God-knows-when, and it just seemed like the time to make the little buggers, particularly as I had a half-gallon of milk that ‘s about to go south on me.

Can you beat it? I submit you cannot.

Can you beat it? I submit you cannot.

I love a bran muffin. Mama used to make them, and at one time I had a recipe that called for both bran flakes and All-Bran, but it made about three dozen, albeit they were wonderful. This is a pretty basic recipe, and lends itself to adding whatever you feel like; I put diced figs in mine, in lieu of raisins, because, well, I like figs better than I do raisins.

  • 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.  Mix together wheat bran and buttermilk; let stand for 10 minutes.  Beat together oil, egg, sugar and vanilla and add to buttermilk/bran mixture. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture, until just blended. Fold in raisins and spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!

My only other variation from the recipe was to use 2 percent instead of buttermilk, and All-Bran ‘sted of just plain wheat bran. I baked mine at about 350, because my oven bakes about 25 degrees or so hot, and it took precisely 21 minutes until they were perfect.

Well, actually they weren’t perfect until I popped two of ’em out of the tins, sliced off their little tops, and stuck a heart-clogging amount of butter in there before I put the top back on. Dear sweet baby Jesus, but that’s good.

Next baking effort was an apple cider pound cake, which is a new venture but sounded like it’d be good, and besides, I have a big honkin’ jug of apple cider I need to get rid of. If the uncooked batter is any indication, it ought to be wonderful.  I’ll know in about an hour. Meanwhile, here’s the recipe:

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ICING:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a small saucepan, bring the cider, cinnamon stick, cloves and allspice to a boil, and reduce by half. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, cream sugar, cream cheese and butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir together all dry ingredients; set aside. Combine cooled cider and vanilla. Add dry ingredients alternately with cider mixture to batter. Mix until well blended. fold in the apples and walnuts. Spoon into a greased 10-in. angel food cake pan or fluted tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees F for about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until cake tests done. Meanwhile, combine all icing ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. While cake is warm, drizzle 1/2 of the icing over cake. Serve remaining icing over individual cake servings, if desired.

I altered the original recipe, which I found on the ‘net somewhere, to substitute 8 oz of cream cheese for two of the three sticks of butter it called for.This was a sacrifice to expediency and football, the Razorbacks being on TV when I discovered I had only one stick of butter, besides what was in the butter dish that I was about to use a heart-stopping amount of on the bran muffins.  (Given the performance of the Razorbacks, I should’ve gone on and gone to the store, but I had the cider reducing and the bran muffins baking and I was not fixing to miss those HOT bran muffins with said butter.) And the cream cheese was non-fat, so the cake is somewhat less artery-clogging than it might be, a Good Thing in light of the aforementioned buttered muffins.  The original recipe called for just a cup of unreduced cider, but I wanted it to be seriously apple-y, so I figured I’d try the reduction trick, and then it was just easier to put the whole spices into the cider than it was to sift the ground variety into the flour.  And the original recipe didn’t call for either the apples or the walnuts in the batter, but I figured it’d taste good and add some texture.

If smell is any indication, this will be some killer stuff. I’m not making the icing — I’m going to do a cider and brown sugar and butterscotch pudding mix glaze, because I’ve got the stuff here and that sounds good. And then I guess I’ll wind up taking it to work, because we won’t near ’bout eat it all here.

Tonight, I think I’m going to make chicken quesadillas with the remaining chicken from last night, and some Spanish rice and some guacamole. That’ll make Child C happy. Me, too, for that matter. And now I’m off to clean the house and do other assorted domestic duties. Or not.

You and y’mama ‘n ’em enjoy your weekend.

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