Friday, May 3, 2013

Cranberry-Nut Muffins (or mini-loaf)


Sour cream-walnut cake with a cranberry filling. This sounds a bit like Thanksgiving, even though it's Spring at GoldStone Farms.

Thank you to my friend Shelley, an excellent home baker, for sharing a baking evening with me! These muffins / mini loaves were the results of a cooperative venture, and of course, while we were making the batter Shelley discussed her excellent dairy desserts, including ice cream cakes and Baked Alaska. I'll admit that sometimes there is nothing like baking with dairy products.

This recipe is adapted from Molly O'Neill's New York Cookbook (Workman Publishing). 

I originally made this cake in the 1990's and at that time tried (successfully) to make it with a skim milk/ buttermilk combination or yogurt rather than sour cream.  Shelley and I disregarded the fat concern partially last night by creating the cake with reduced-fat sour cream.  The cake is delicious, I don't think using full fat sour cream will change it remarkably.

I have not tried to make this recipe pareve with faux sour cream, although I imagine it would work.

NOTE: The muffins bake in about 25 minutes, the mini-loaf takes 30-35 minutes to completely bake.  The warm cake is very soft due to the liquefied cranberry sauce filling, the cake firms up as the filling cools.

Equipment:
scale
measuring spoons
nut chopper (unless you purchase ground nuts)
muffin pan and liners or mini loaf pans
paper pan liners
bowl, mixer, silicone spatula
cooking rack






Ingredients: 
1/2 c (1 stick) margarine or unsalted butter
1 c sugar
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp almond extract
2 c (9 oz) all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 c reduced fat sour cream or alternatively:

  • 1c skim milk  mixed with 4 Tbsp buttermilk powder or
  • 1 c unflavored yogurt
1 c chopped nuts (we used walnuts)
1 c whole-berry cranberry sauce (canned cranberry sauce is fine) 

Choreography: 
1. Measure the ingredients.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, soda and salt.
3. Preheat the oven 360 degrees
4. Line a muffin pan (batter will make 12 muffins and a mini loaf) or grease and flour 4 mini loaf pans)
5. Cream the margarine and sugar, beat until fluffy. You can do this by hand, but it's much easier to use an electric beater
6. Add the almond extract, eggs (in 2 additions) , sour cream and 1/2 of the nuts
7. Add the flour mixture in 2 additions, mix until ingredients are hydrated, don't over mix
8. Fill each muffin space half full, add a heaping teaspoon of cranberry sauce, cover with the batter. Don't smooth out (Shelley said it's a  "rustic" recipe), the batter will spread out and cover the cranberry filling

9. Repeat the process with the mini loaf pan
10. Sprinkle the muffins and loaf with the remaining nuts
11. Lower the oven temperature to 350, bake the muffins for 25 minutes and the mini loaf for 30-35 minutes. Test with a cake tester (or a wooden BBQ stick), the tester should come out clean of any dough - although the cranberry sauce may stick a bit.
12. Cook for 10 -15 minutes before moving the muffins out of the tin, the cranberry sauce makes these muffins a bit fragile.  Some of the cranberry sauce may bubble through a bit, but as Shelley noted, the muffins are rustic.

13. The muffins are very moist, they should be stored covered in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature. They can be double wrapped and frozen. Unwrap before defrosting.