Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rise and Shine Muffins

While hiking in the Canadian Rockies, I fell in love with the wonderful kitchen at Mt. Engadine Lodge. Chef Brenda turned out gorgeous meals and terrific treats for us on a daily basis. This is one of my group's favorites, a rich, dense muffin that is, surprisingly, dairy free.

They're called "Rise and Shine Muffins" and here's how to make them (the recipe is at the bottom of this post). First, grate carrots, peel and all:

Set them aside for a second. Here's some of the good stuff that will go in these muffins:

In a large mixing bowl, dump in flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt:

Stir it up until it's all incorporated:

Next, add dried cranberries and chopped walnuts (I used pecans, a fine substitute):

Then pour in some shredded coconut. (I might use flaked coconut next time, just to try it):

Next, add some cut-up plum and chopped-up apples with the skins still on:

Last, dump your shredded carrots on top of everything:

Carefully stir the dry ingredients into the fruit and carrots. You can use a spoon or your hands:

When everything is stirred together, it'll look like big bowl of flour-coated fruit salad:

Next, in a second large mixing bowl, combine three eggs with a mild vegetable oil (like canola):

Add the best vanilla extract you can get your hands on (good vanilla is key to good baking!):

And whisk the wet ingredients together until fully incorporated:

Carefully pour the fruity mixture into the eggy mixture:

You'll notice there's a heckuva lot of fruity matter for the amount of "batter" in this recipe. That's okay; that's how it should be!:

Stir everything together with a wooden spoon until just incorporated. The resulting mixture will be heavier and "shaggier" than your average muffin recipe:

Spoon the mixture into 18 greased muffin cups, filling them to the top (unlike many recipes, which tell you to fill the cups only 2/3 or 3/4 full). But go ahead, fill those puppies right on up:

Oh, how I love these "Muffinaire" muffin tins! They were my mother's, and they are great:

Bake the muffins until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops look browned with slightly crispy edges. The muffins rise a bit and spread out a little, as you see, but not so much that they are hard to coax out of the muffin tins:

Let the muffins cool a while in their tins on a wire cooling rack. Then run a dinner knife around the edges of the dome to help lift them out of the tins, and let them completely cool on the rack.

These muffins are a rich, moist, jumble-y bunch of goodness. You can store them in a cookie tin in the fridge, but they're so good, they may not last very long!

Pure yum. Thank you, Chef Brenda! And thank you, Mt. Engadine Lodge.

"Rise and Shine Muffins"

2 C. all-purpose flour
1-1/4 C. sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 C. grated carrot
1/2 C. dried cranberries
1/2 C. chopped walnuts
1/2 C. shredded coconut
2 C. chopped apple, skins on
1 plum, cut up
3 large eggs
1 C. mild vegetable oil (like Canola)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in grated carrot, cranberries, walnuts, coconut, chopped apple, and plum.

In a second large mixing bowl, beat together eggs, oil, and vanilla. Stir in the flour/fruit mixture, mixing until just combined. Spoon into greased muffin tins, filling to the top. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 23-25 minutes. Makes 18 muffins.

Please note: Chef Brenda's instructions said to bake the muffins for 25-30 minutes, but her kitchen is at 6,200 feet. At near sea level, where I live, that translates into a little less. I found the muffins to be perfect at 23 minutes, although a minute or two more wouldn't kill them.

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