Correspondence with my Daughter: Pear Muffins
I have been craving some different breakfast options recently, and in the absence of your granola bars (le sigh), I decided to make some muffins. I had some pears leftover from one of those Harry & David gift monster of a things and there were two that were perfectly ripe. After some internet-ing, I found a healthy-ish recipe: http://www.thekitchn.com/fall-breakfast-1-158809.
My one issue was that when I went to use my whole wheat flour…some insect had gotten into it as there was this weird web over it. Gross! I guess that shows how often I use it…oops. So I used only all-purpose flour. I think with the whole wheat they would be less cakey and more healthy-muffin-like. I read a bunch of the comments (thank goodness for internet recipes!) and the main complaint was that they were too dry, so I doubled the amount of milk and they came out perfect. My other change was that I didn’t have any ground ginger, so I used cloves instead, which was just as good.
I know with some revisions you could probably make it even better and possibly healthier!
I love the idea of using pears in muffins! (I will be sending granola bars, pronto!)
But before I delve into the recipe, I just want to help you solve your problem about whole wheat flour. I too have experienced this most annoying and disgusting situation and for a long time did not even buy whole wheat flour because of this. I now happily have whole wheat flour but I do not store it in my kitchen cupboard with the rest of the flour, sugar, salt, etc. I store it in the freezer. When I use it for recipes, I don’t even bother warming it up! Flour has such a fine texture that this is not necessary. Why the freezer instead of the refrigerator? No real reason at all except that I have more room in the freezer!! Refrigerator or freezer, it doesn’t matter. But it keeps the bugs out and your whole wheat flour ready to use.
As far as the recipe is concerned, here are some thoughts: most quick breads (which muffins fall into) use vegetable oil as their fat rather than butter. The standard procedure for mixing quick breads is, one bowl dry ingredients, one bowl wet ingredients, add wet to dry and stir gently until just combined. Usually cake ingredients are mixed in this fashion: butter, sugar, eggs, beat until light and fluffy, add wet and dry ingredients alternately until just combined. I think this is why your muffins are more cake-like. This is not a bad thing, I have a blueberry muffin recipe that is excellent and could definitely pass as mini cakes. But if a more dense texture is what you are looking for then I would substitute the butter with oil, and use the quick bread method for combining the ingredients.
I added a few additional ‘healthy’ ingredients: wheat germ and wheat or oat bran. These are usually in the organic section of your supermarket. I agree with you about the additional 1/2 cup of milk. Also, white whole wheat flour can be substituted for all of the flour in the recipe. This is a great alternative because whole wheat flour tends to be more dense and is very rarely used by itself, usually you need regular flour to lighten it up. White whole wheat flour combines the great attributes of both.
Below is the slightly altered recipe:
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2-2-1/2 cups of unpeeled, diced pears or whatever you get from 2 medium-sized pears
Topping: 1/4 cup of sugar combined with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
Bake for about 20 minutes for smaller and maybe a little longer for the larger muffins. Let cool for about 1/2 hour in pans and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.