Monday, March 14, 2011

Biscuit Muffins

Biscuit Muffins - made March 14, 2011 from Bread for Breakfast by Beth Hensperger (book #58)

I haven't make a lot of recipes from this book although it contains the oatmeal hotcakes recipe I like to fall back on time and again, especially when I need to use up some leftover buttermilk.  I love breakfast food but I'm rarely hungry enough in the morning to eat a lot for breakfast and when I do eat breakfast, I prefer to go for protein rather than bread.  However, I do believe breakfast food can be eaten at any time of the day so I didn't think twice about baking up these biscuit muffins for an afternoon snack.  I did another 11-mile walk again today and figured I could have some carb calories afterwards.

I mixed all this by hand since I took the "muffin" name in the title seriously and didn't want to overwork the dough.  I ended up adding a little more than a cup of buttermilk to absorb more of the flour mixture.  I also substituted cinnamon for the cardamom as I don't like the taste of cardamom and I didn't have enough nutmeg on hand.  I don't know if it was because of the changes or if it's just this particular recipe but I didn't think this had a lot of flavor.  It's not very sweet so if you need more of a savory muffin, this would be a good one to use.  It didn't rise up as much as I expected, considering how much baking powder is in it and it didn't smooth out but remained craggy on top as it baked but I liked it that way since it gave it a bit more texture.

This is one of those breakfast breads best served warm from the oven.  You can also make it as mini muffins as part of a brunch.  I'm not sure I'd recommend it as a standalone muffin.

2 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon + ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cardamom or nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup cold cultured buttermilk
1 tablespoon sugar, for sprinkling, optional

1.     Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Grease the cups of a standard 2 ¾” muffin tin.
2.     In a large bowl or in the workbowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt.  Distribute the butter over the top of the flour mixture.  Using a fork or with the electric mixer on low speed, cut in the butter for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs laced with small chunks of butter.
3.     Turn off the mixer, if using, and pour the buttermilk into the center of the dough.  Using a fork or with the mixer on low speed, mix until the dough forms a sticky mass, about 30 seconds.  Increase the speed to medium for about 10 seconds; the mass will form a moist, sticky clump on the paddle and clear the sides of the bowl.  Do not overmix; you are just lightly mixing the dough and letting it pull together.
4.     Lightly dust a work surface with flour.  Scrape the dough off the fork or paddle with a rubber spatula or plastic dough card.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the batter to the mass of dough.  Sprinkle the top with some flour.  With floured fingers, fold the dough over and gently knead for 6 to 8 gentle strokes, leaving the dough very soft and as sticky as possible.  Using a dough card, cut the dough into 12 equal portions; they will be lumpy and uneven.  Place each dough piece in a muffin cup, sprinkle with some sugar, and press lightly to fill the cups.
5.     Bake on the center rack of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until firm to the touch and the tops and bottoms are golden brown.  Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the muffins to the cooling rack to cool for a few minutes before serving.

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