Sundays are quickly becoming my favourite day of the week.
They’re just so damned good these days — I can go out on Saturday night, or stay in with good company and a bottle of wine, go to bed late, sleep in til 9am (which is pretty late for me), and then wake up, do chores, run errands, satisfy my new Boardwalk Empire addiction, and, of course, bake for fun!
This week I decided to make some muffins, since I haven’t made any in forever! Why is that?
Muffins get over shadowed by the fanciness and trendiness of cupcakes, I think. Muffins aren’t a “treat” — they’re a quick breakfast for when you’re on the run. Muffins are taken for granted — even I’m guilty of hardly ever baking any. Muffins are good and can actually be good for you, too. Uhh. Not that these ones are.
These are more like “treat” muffins, or, make-for-brunch-and-impress-your-fellow-brunchers-type muffins. These aren’t loaded with whole wheat flour, oats, nuts, or dried fruits (I made some of those last week — but they’re in my freezer for quick breakfasts, and far too lumpy and funny looking to write about), but they’re full of warm vanilla flavour, a hint of ginger, and a plum jam surprise in the middle! C’mon! It’s a self-jamming muffin! It’s a muffin out to prove that muffins can be special, too.
Now if I could only invent a self-buttering muffin. Oh hell yes would I ever be in the money.
Vanilla-Ginger Jam Muffins
*adapted from Anna Olson
- 1 & 1/2 cups 2% milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 & 1/2 cups white sugar (plus a lil’ more, for dusting)
- 2/3 cups vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 3 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons powdered ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup good quality plum jam
Preheat your oven to 325°F (or 175°C); grab two bowls, a sauce pan, and have a whisk handy if you’ve got one. Line a muffin tin with paper baking cups — you must, or else your muffins will fall apart!
On the stove top, heat the milk with the scraped seeds and pod of one vanilla bean over a low setting for about 15 minutes, making sure to stir every once in a while. If the milk starts to steam or form a goopy skin on the top, remove the pan from your stove top, then stir in the vanilla and lemon extracts. Set aside the milk and allow to cool to room temperature.
In the smaller of your two bowls, sift together your flour, baking powder, salt, and powdered ginger.
Once your milk has cooled sufficiently, pour it into a large mixing bowl and whisk in your eggs, sugar, and oil. I say “whisk” because it’s pretty damned difficult to get oil to blend into the mixture without a proper whisk. If you’re using a wooden spoon or a spatula, then just go go go! You can do it! Whisk the mixture until it’s smooth!
Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix gently until the large lumps are gone. It’s all right if a few small lumps remain.
Grab your muffin tin lined with paper cups — fill the cups 1/4 full of batter. Next, drop a tablespoon of plum jam into the centre of each cup.
Carefully cover the jam layer with with more batter, making sure the jam doesn’t squish up the sides of the paper liner. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with a pinch of white sugar.
Once these muffins are out of the oven, give them about 15 minutes to cool before pulling them out of the tin. Yum!
Now, I used a good quality plum jam that I bought a while ago at Green’s Organic Market on Broadway & Maple. The jam is from Zebroff’s Organic Farm, which is somewhere by Osoyoos in the Okanagan. I’m tellin’ you, peoples, this is the best plum jam I’ve ever had in my life — it’s not that artificially flavoured, artificially coloured, half-jelly crap made by Smuckers. This is real jam: it tastes sweet and natural and perfect. I’m never going back to Big Jam products ever again.
Anyways, plum flavour works really well with vanilla and ginger, but so would other fruits, especially ones like blueberry, raspberry, or apricot. You could even use chocolate chips if you were feelin’ dangerous.
So that’s it for today. Thanksgiving is just around the corner already, so expect some recipes suited to the season coming up real soon.