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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Playing With My Food

I woke up at 5:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning...laid in bed until 6:30 tossing and turning...refusing to get up.  While I lay there, my brain was whirring - hopping from subject to subject - thinking about the day, things I might blog about, things I needed to do, the weather...ugh, it just wouldn't shut back down.  So I rolled my ass self out of bed and made coffee and checked email...and started trolling the internet for scone recipes.  I have apples, grapefruit, strawberries...I wanted SOMETHING to bake for breakfast.  I managed to lose myself for about an hour and then realized I had better get a move on if I wanted to actually bake one of these I went looking for supplies, only to realize I was low on flour.  OMG, how did that happen?  I'm usually hyper organized about putting an item on the grocery list when I open the last item of its kind in the cabinet.  I'm guessing this was in one of my mad baking spells and I didn't stop to be bad.  No scones.  Bummer.

So, I moved over to see what kind of mixes I had...maybe muffins?  I have a few cake mixes and a blueberry muffin mix...and that's what I reached for. 

I thought to myself "hmmm, maybe I could make these in the new mini bundt pans my son gave me for Christmas..." and then "hmmm, I wonder what it would taste like if I put something in the bottom of the bundts so there would be a "topping" when I turned them out?"  So, I got busy.

I decided I would do a taste test for the boys...I'd put brown sugar and cinnamon in the bottom of 3 mini bundts, finely granulated sugar in the bottom of 3 others, regular blueberry muffins - straight from the mix directions in 3 others, and I would add some of last night's leftover chopped up strawberries coated in whipped cream to the last bit of mix for the last 3 muffins/mini-bundts.  I'll ask what the boys like best.  They'll be happy because I won't be snarling at them if they eat 4 muffins :-)

I sprayed the dark mini-bundt pans with butter-flavored baking spray, adjusted the temperature for a dark pan (the package said 400 for a dark or nonstick pan...mine was both).  The box said to use paper baking cups or cooking spray for the muffin I was golden (I hoped).

I drained the blueberries, prepped the batter, and prepped the pan with the cinnamon and brown sugar in 3, and the granulated sugar in 3 others.  I chopped the strawberries and had them ready.

Sprinkled brown sugar and a touch of cinnamon in bottom of pan
and some super fine sugar in the others

chopped leftover strawberries and whipped cream

I used a ladle to evenly divide the batter and added about 3 tablespoons of chopped strawberries, sort of coated in whipped cream, to the remaining batter and filled the last three mini bundts.

Ready for oven in the new mini bundt pans (thanks Jay and Jennie)

They are currently in the oven baking as I type this post.  They sure do smell good.  I'm going to get a cup of coffee and take a peek in the oven window.  Back in a second.

OK - as I walked into the kitchen, the timer went off (16 minutes) - and I felt like the muffins could use about 60-90 seconds more...just a tad more brown.  They had poofed up (like a muffin does) so I was hoping they would not be wobbly when I turned them out.

I took them out of the oven when the timer chimed and set the pan on a rack.  I figured I should turn them out fairly quickly so the sugars didn't harden in the pan.  I always fret about turning out bundt things...I have had more than my share of bundt stickage. (that's a technical term) These, however, turned out perfectly.  I put a baking tray on top of them, grabbed my hot pads, and FLIP.  Ta Da...perfect turnout when I peeked under the edge.  I can tell you, I was grinning from ear to ear.  Such a feeling of satisfaction when a pan works the way it is supposed to (first time usage and all).

I plated them - grouping in 3's - and put little notes next to them as to which kind they were.  I cracked open a strawberry blueberry one to start with...very pretty.  I selected that one for myself and also took a brown-sugar cinnamon topped muffin...and my cup of coffee and went to sit down for a muffin and coffee break.  The boys are still sleeping.

brown sugar cinnamon on the right - super fine granulated sugar on the left 

The results?  I ate the strawberry and blueberry muffin first - and I have to say, it was just "okay".  The texture wasn't as crumbly and the strawberries weren't sweet enough.  I knew that from dinner last night, but I'd hoped the overnight sit in sweetened whipped cream might have helped them along, but it didn't really.

Onward to #2...I loved the brown sugar cinnamon was just "barely there" and did harden up a bit...which gave it some good mouth feel.  It was excellent.  It added to the taste of the blandish blueberry muffin (I find box blueberry muffins so much more bland than bakery blueberry muffins).  I ate both of those with my coffee, then went and sliced a bite out of one with just the superfine sugar topping...the topping had definitely hardened since being taken from the oven...not bad, because it was quite a thin coating...just resulted in more texture.  It, too, added the missing element to take the boxed mix from "eh" to "yum".  I'll leave the plain one - I know what they taste like!

regular blueberry muffins on teh left - strawberry/blueberry on the right

So, now the husband is up..."what are these notes?"  I'm pretty sure I heard a groan when I told him I was testing.  I asked if he wanted some..."not now".  He's not called Grandpa Cranky for nothing.  When he gets up, he just wants to drink coffee, sit in his recliner, and click around on his laptop (he really likes the Sunday paper but says it is not worth buying down here in the RGV).  I'll just wait...he'll participate, though, if he wants to eat muffins!  I'll just need to be quiet and let him wake all the way up :-)

He has now finished all four of his muffins (geez, you are spending the morning with's now almost 9:30!) and I asked what he thought.  His first response "I thought the strawberry blueberry ones were too moist" and I said I agreed.  I asked if he preferred the toppings over plain "I didn't prefer prefer them" (what the hell does that mean?) I rephrased the question...okay, which of the four did you like best.  "I guess the brown sugar cinnamon one".  So, there you have it - we agree!

I like playing with my food...I enjoy messing with recipes.  I really enjoy trying to take a box mix and "kick it up a notch" to make it just a bit better.  I won't be waiting for the teen's comments...I'll be lucky to see him before noon!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!


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