february 1, 2013
The shelves of my kitchen cabinet hold my mother’s tattered and dogeared copy of the 1940 American Woman’s Cookbook. Quaint by today’s standards, this much loved book holds the promise of balanced, sensible meals prepared with thought, care and minimally processed foods. How we long for the good old days! Until the dawning realization that putting together three home cooked meals each and every day is a major undertaking and not for today’s time challenged kitchen denizens. To paraphrase the old joke : what do today’s cooks make for dinner? Reservations.
Wouldn’t it be great to build up your recipe repertoire with quick and easy items you can whip up on the fly, impressing your loved ones, your friends, yourself? See last week’s post about jazzed-up easy turkey meatloaf, or a recent post about homemade salad dressings. Today, I offer you a quick bread, adapted from the vintage American Woman’s Cookbook, where it was described as “Sally Lunn”. A similar recipe residing in my 1950s Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook (an excellent source for all baked goods ; those post-war home cooks rocked!) is generically categorized as simply “muffins”. Well, the name is plain, and if I am to be truthful, your recipe today tastes rather plain, too, but in a comforting way. A perfect foil for butter and jam; my preference is damson plum preserves by Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria Virginia, and purchased conveniently at our neighborhood market Little House Green Grocery on Bellevue Avenue here in Richmond.
These muffins are quick, and easy. Original recipes for muffins like these call for creaming the sugar with butter or shortening, which means dragging out the electric mixer unless you want to beat the bowl with a wooden spoon, pioneer style. Here all gets whisked and stirred, and just barely. I have substituted canola oil for a solid source of fat and the texture is still fluffy. Flavor is boosted by a nice fat local farm egg from Frog Bottom Farm in Pamplin, Virginia.
When combining the wet and dry ingredients, mix just until the mixture comes together. A few lumps are to be expected and overmixing yields a tough muffin. Bake until the tops are lightly browned. An oven thermometer makes a sound investment for your baking adventures, since oven temperatures vary and your outcome is so dependent on certitude. See below for gluten free and vegan versions of this simple addition to the breakfast table. You may add subtle spice like cinnamon and nutmeg (one half teaspoon of each) or follow my lead and use local honey or preserves to paint your muffin palette.
When I hunger for the comforting texture and aroma of warm bread, quick means a three step process of whisk, bake and inhale. If you like this recipe, you would be wise to measure the dry ingredients into small containers, making it a breeze to whip up some hot muffins for breakfast, brunch or dinner.
fluffy breakfast muffins
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes twelve muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
4 t baking powder
1/2 t fine salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in small mixing bowl.
- In separate bowl whisk oil with sugar.
- Add egg and whisk well; add milk and whisk.
- With spoon add dry ingredients just until mixed together, leaving a few lumps.
- Portion mixture into well greased 12 cup standard muffin tin.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.
- Those not eaten within one day may be frozen; refrigeration will stale these muffins, so eat up!
gluten free version : substitute GF flour mix for all purpose and add 1/2 t xanthan gum to dry ingredients (example of GF mix=2 cups white rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca starch)
vegan version : use egg substitute (I like Ener-G) and alternate milk like almond, rice or soy