Posts Tagged ‘baking


Bran Muffins


Well hello there.

The last time I posted I didn’t intend to go two years without blogging. Life has gotten in the way, big time. I had a second baby after an exhausting pregnancy. My job as a reporter became even more intense. Cooking and baking remained an outlet, but there was less time to do it, let alone write about it.

But today, as the four of us hunkered down during a snowstorm in St. Louis, I took the two littles into the kitchen. It felt like the perfect time to come out of our cocoon a bit more and return to Garlic Shoots. Much of the credit goes to my friend Kim McGuire, who linked to Turkish Lentil Soup the other day on Facebook. It made me miss doing this. So I got out the flour, the buttermilk, the honey, the bowls and the spatula. I changed the lens on my camera. I turned toward an old favorite — these bran muffins by Heidi Swanson. They come from her second cookbook — Super Natural Every Day, which I love love love. These muffins have become a winter staple for us. They’re perfect for January — stark and simple, but soulful. As they bake, they make the house smell like butter and honey. They smell like warmth.

During a blizzard, that’s exactly what we needed. And despite their name, these muffins aren’t boring. They hold their own. The fact that they’re made up of whole wheat flour, the wheat bran and flakes make them a nice antidote to the holidays. The other major plus is that they’re easy and quick. When you’ve these two as sous chefs, that’s pretty important.



Bran Muffins

barley modified from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

1/2 cup barely melted unsalted butter

1/4 cup maple syrup or honey

1/2 cup unprocessed wheat bran or oat bran

1 1/2 cups pain, unsweetened bran cereal

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with rack in the middle of the oven. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and maple syrup (or honey). Sprinkle the bran and cereal across the top, stir, and allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes.

In a separate small bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the top of the wet and stir until just combined. Immediately fill each muffin cup three-quarters full.

Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the edges of the muffins begin to brown and the tops have set. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn the muffins out of the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.


Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chunks and Cranberries

I often wonder if Giada De Laurentiis ever eats what she bakes. Because a week ago, when I saw her whipping up these cookies on the Food Network, I had to bake them. Now I can’t quit eating them.

Seriously. There are cookies, and then there are cookies. These are truly sinful. They’re chewy, chocolatey with bits of sweetness from dried cranberries (a nice break from raisins).

Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chunks and Cranberries
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
scant 1/2 cup light brown sugar
scant 1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup dried cranberries
1 (3- to 4-ounce) bittersweet chocolate bar (recommended: 60% to 70% cacao), chopped into 1/4-inch chunks

Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. With the machine running, gradually add the flour mixture. Add the oats, cranberries and chocolate chunks. Mix until just incorporated (dough will be stiff). Using your hands or a 4-ounce cookie scoop, scoop slightly rounded mounds of the dough into 12 (2-inch-diameter) balls. Arrange 6 balls of dough, spaced evenly apart, on each baking sheet. Using the back of a spoon, flatten the tops slightly and bake until the cookies are slightly golden on the edges, about 13 to 17 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes before serving.


Chocolate-Banana Marble Bread

Last week Gabriella and I got together one last time with Cara, Valerie and their babies. I return to work next week (waaaaa!) and needed some consoling. It’s not that I don’t like what I do for a living. I absolutely love it. I’m a journalist to the bone and in many ways can’t wait to return to the newsroom. I just wish I could set up Gabi’s Pack ‘N Play next to my desk so she could be near me.

Cara and Valerie still have a few months of this blissfulness. We watched our scrumptious baby girls roll around and make faces (that’s Gabi in the left corner). It can’t be possible that nine months has passed, but it is.

Someone usually makes muffins for these get-togethers. I brought this bread instead.

It’s part banana bread, part chocolate cake. Cake flour makes the texture soft and fine-grained.  It tastes very refined. It’s not nearly as sweet as you’d think.

Continue reading ‘Chocolate-Banana Marble Bread’


Whole Wheat Bread

Hello all. This is my first attempt at doing something I’ve been considering for a long time: blogging about food. I love to cook. But most of all, I love to eat. As I venture into blogdom, a bowl of whole wheat bread dough is rising in the kitchen.

Continue reading ‘Whole Wheat Bread’


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