Sunday, July 19, 2009

Of Muffins and Mornings

Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Doing something we should has a pretty negative connotation in my book. Whenever I hear someone say, "I should have..." it often seems so pointless. You should have, but you didn't, and now you can't, so why exactly are you ruminating on it? Of course, if it's a thing that you can change the next time that will help you accomplish what you set out to do or a change that will make something better, then it makes sense to reconsider. It's good to apply a shoulda/coulda/woulda to recipes that you like but would rather love the next time you make them. Sometimes it's an additional ingredient, sometimes it's more or less of one, but tweaking a recipe to suit your tastes is what it's all about.

This morning, I'm making my first Orangette recipe, Nutmeg Doughnut Muffins. Among the hundred or so comments on this entry of Molly Wizenberg's addictive blog are changes to the recipe made by her readers. Similar to the Reviews section on Epicurious, I read the comments looking for clues in adapting a recipe to my tastes. In this instance, I thought I might agree with the reader who added a little vanilla and ground cinnamon to the recipe, and I was right - I will also add even more nutmeg next time. No, I don't know exactly what the recipe would taste like without these additions, but I know that I like these ingredients and that detecting them in the finished muffin is decidedly delicious. When I want to note these adaptations for a recipe in a cookbook that I own, I write them on the page. Epicurious has a Notes feature to accomplish this. The texture of these muffins is just right. Calling them donut muffins is a perfect way to describe them. I may do as one reader did and roll the finished muffins in cinnamon sugar next time instead of powdered confectioners sugar.

I'll also note that the amount of melted butter needed to brush the tops is less than called for, and how long the muffins took to bake in my oven. As usual, I didn't have all of the ingredients, so I substituted lowfat milk for the whole and lowfat vanilla yogurt for the buttermilk. I also halved the recipe as there are only two of us (mostly one of us, truth be told) eating them and they're only good up until the day after they're made. Now, if I decide to add this recipe to Jaunty Gourmand, I can say "adapted from a recipe by Molly Wizenberg, who attributed it as 'Inspired by Columbia City Bakery, Seattle, WA, and adapted from Kathleen Stewart of the Downtown Bakery & Creamery, Healdsburg, CA' on the website," Phew. That's a mouthful.

It's an idyllic morning here. The temperature is blissfully cool, the birds are chirping and the cicadas are singing, the dogs are asleep at my feet on the sunroom floor, and Gnome is in and out of the garden beds adding compost that he just sifted from the bin. He took a break for some coffee, but I cannot convince him to eat one of the warm donut muffins. He prefers to mainline his sugar, usually leaving me to consume the bulk of anything I bake when it's just the two of us. I think tonight I'm going to take Peter Hobday's suggestion and make the pasta recipe adapted by Victoria Fenwick from a ristorante on Lake Como in northern Italy after we get back from the wine store. I love weekends.


  1. Well, when I'm in town I'd be happy to help out with the muffin consumption. I could even bring this over, which I added a heap of freshly grated coconut to, and which turned out to be the best damn banana nut bread I have EVER eaten:

  2. Lydia: We really do need to set a date to eat an entire meal with every dish containing chocolate, don't we? Thanks for the banana bread link. I have some frozen nanners I need to use, so this will be great to try. Hope the weather's good in Denmark.

  3. p.s. I've just compared your recipe to the "extreme" one that I have in my recipe box, and they differ dramatically. This one has 1 c. butter, 2 eggs, 2c. flour, 1/2 c. sugar, 1 T. vanilla, 1 t. baking soda, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 4 ripe bananas - mashed, 1/2 c. chocolate chips, 1/2 c. chopped nuts. 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour, ten minutes.

  4. Less sugar is always good. I did sub brown sugar for half the regular sugar in the recipe, and I only had baking powder, not soda, but it still turned out incredibly well. One cup butter sounds like a lot, and I'm a big fan of eggs in most forms, so the more the merrier. More nuts is always a plus, too. I guess the missing sugar is made up for in the chocolate chips. I used the tips from the first reviewer, too. I kind of feel adding chocolate is almost TOO much, but I do loooove dark chocolate. Too much. I still have half the batch in the fridge that I'm going to bake tomorrow. Maybe I'll throw some in that one, along with even more coconut.

  5. That sounds decadently delicious. I think your recipe also had a cup of butter. I make that recipe without the chocolate chips all the time.