Friday, September 2, 2011

Poppy Seed Muffins and Beautiful Bread

Costco poppyseed muffins are one of my favorite muffins ever.  They're really big though.  And homemade muffins tend to be a tiny bit too small.  Is there a perfect muffin tin out there??

Anyway, I made poppyseed muffins cuz my husband said he was getting munchy between classes and wanted something so he wouldn't buy food on campus. 
Poppy seed Muffins

You might not guess from that picture, but I messed up on them.  First, I used coconut oil to grease the tins.  We don't have any cooking spray and I didn't want to mess with our giant bottle of vegetable oil... but I should have.  Coconut oil is fantastic for scrambled eggs and fantastically horrible for greasing pans.  The smoke point is too low and it definitely filled my kitchen with smoke.  Second, I didn't turn down the oven.  I've read some baking books and they suggest heating the oven up to 375 and then turning it down to 325 when you put the muffins in.  The initial heat burst is supposed to help them rise better.  They did rise better, unfortunately, I forgot to turn the oven down til about 10 minutes in.  They have a bit leathery bottom to them... but luckily, they aren't completely ruined.  My third problem isn't really a mistake on my part, just an inconvenience: I have no cooling racks.  When I made the bread, I really didn't want to leave it int he pan, so I stuck it in my colander and it works perfect. So when I got the muffins out and REALLY didn't want them cooking in the pan any more than they had to, I stuck them in the colander.  It's not ideal, but actually does work in a pinch.  

No cooling rack?  No problem!

About 15 years ago, my parents made bread somewhat often with their bread maker. The bread tasted great, but it had three problems.
1.) The dough hook was baked into the bread and to get it out, you chunked out a giant hole.
2.) It was round.  A round so large a good sized sandwich was it a round cut in half.  This was hard to fit in a bag.
3.) It wasn't presliced.  This was a huge problem for me when I was 8.  My slices were never even.
Breadmakers may have improved in the past many years (except for maybe the preslicing), but I still am not a huge fan of them.  I have heard that even if you want to bake your bread more traditionally, it's great for kneading bread (Check a thrift store, but make sure it works before you leave.)

Until about two weeks ago, we did not have a dough hook attachment for our Kitchen Aid.  We tried kneading the bread in the CuisinArt, but ended up working it so hard we overheated the motor and I was afraid we had broke it.  I've made bread by hand and I've got to say I find it hard to work up the motivation to do that again.  Some experts say kneading bread by hand is better because you get more in touch with what the bread needs... other experts say you'll add too much flour to keep it from sticking.  So if you have the means to, I highly suggest using a Kitchen Aid with a dough hook to make bread.

My favorite kind of bread to make it Buttermilk Whole Wheat Sandwich bread.  Pretty much all sourdoughs or breads that require a starter will take forever from start to finish, but sandwich bread I can do in an evening.  Have you bought bread lately?  How much did it cost?  The breads I like cost about $3.50-$4.50.   It's convenient, but crazy considering how cheap is it to make.  It takes me about 2.5hrs to make bread, but most of that is down time waiting for the bread to rise (45minutes and 30minutes) or baking (30minutes).  When I was in college, I'd work out during the first rise, shower during the second, and clean the kitchen during baking.  Now I tend to sew or clean during all three.  Point is, it's not wasted time.  A few years ago I calculated how much it cost to bake organic bread, but I think it's on the back of a recipe card at my parents, so I calculated it again (non organic this time).

flour (1lb) - $0.50
salt - $0.01
honey (3oz) -$0.90
yeast (.5oz) -  $0.75
total -  2.16

And look at the beautiful result. 

Buttermilk Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Granted, it does have a couple drawbacks.  It's a smaller sized slice than your store bought bread.  I'm still using bread pans I got in college, so I would love to try french bread pans (they have a lid!  Square bread!) or basically any other pan than the one that I have.  But it's great bread. 

1 comment:

Becky Smith Kuk said...

Hi Julie, I like your blog! I'm friends with Scott, and he recommended your blog. I love to bake and cook, especially bread and muffins. Here's my blog: I look forward to following your posts.