Thursday, June 19, 2008

Knitters have to eat, too (no-mess muffins)

Somehow, the recent lovely summer weather had put knitting out of mind. It may be heresy, but working with fiber has temporarily lost its appeal. Yet even when you put down your knitting, you still have to eat. Here is a recipe for no-mess banana muffins. There is hardly any clean-up and you can prepare ahead so you can pop these in the oven with very little delay.
The following recipe makes 12 standard size muffins.

Step 1: ZIPPER BAG
The trick to making these muffins no-mess is to use a zippered plastic bag.
step 2: GET READY
Put muffin papers (aka "baking cups") into your muffin pan and pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Step 3: MIX DRY INGREDIENTS
Into your zipper bag, put
*1 3/4 cups of flour (white is tastiest, whole wheat pastry flour is a good runner-up)
*1/3 or 1/2 cup of sugar (avoiding white sugar? substitute the same amount of maple syrup BUT add the syrup to the wet ingredient in step 4)
*2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
*1/4 teaspoon salt.
Seal the zipper, check the seal, then shake the bag until all dry ingredients are well-mixed.
step 4: BLEND WET INGREDIENTS
Into your blender, put
*1 banana (can be a super-ripe one you no longer care to eat)
*1 egg (vegan? substitute 3 oz tofu)
*1/2 cup milk (diary milk or soy milk, makes no difference)
*1/4 cup oil (avoiding oil? substitute 1/3 cup applesauce for the oil)
Whirl this mixture around until smooth. If substituting maple syrup for sugar, add the syrup in this step.
step 5: COMBINE WET and DRY INGREDIENTS
Open the zipper bag, pour the blender contents in, and re-seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Mash the mixture together, working the dry ingredients out of the corners. TIP: Radically reduce your clean-up time by taking a minute to fill the blender body 1/3 full of water, add a few drops of dish soap and run the blender at high speed until it fills with suds. Then, let the blender sit there soaking until you have the muffins in the oven.

Step 6: PARTIALLY FILL MUFFIN TINS
Work the muffin batter into the bottom the zipper bag by repeatedly drawing the bag between thumb and forefinger. When the mixture is at the bottom, open the zipper to allow in air. Reseal the zipper, test the seal, gather the top of the bag in your non-dominant hand and twist it several times, then tilt bag and squeeze gently so the air bubble is pressing the batter into one corner of the bag. With a scissors, cut the tip off the corner, lopping off about 3/4 inch along the long edge of the cut. Gently squeeze a small amount of batter into each of the muffin papers.
step 7: ADD YUMMIES
Lay the bag of batter aside, cut tip up, so it does not ooze batter onto the counter. Into the batter in the bottom of each muffin paper, press whatever yummies you think would be good--walnuts, pecans, raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried blueberries, diced dried apricots, whatever.

step 8: FINISH FILLING MUFFIN PAPERS and BAKE
Press equal amounts of the remaining batter into each muffin paper, then bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees until done (about 12-15 minutes). If unsure, test with a cake tester or a toothpick. Let the muffins cool in the tin. If you insist on eating them hot, the bottom crusts will stick to the papers, but once cool, the papers can be drawn off without too much loss of muffin.

RECAP:
*Preheat oven to 400 degrees
*Line muffin tin with muffin papers (no need to grease them)

INGREDIENTS:
*1 3/4 cups of flour
*1/3 or 1/2 cup of sugar
*2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
*1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt.
*1 banana
*1 egg
*1/2 cup milk, adding a couple of tablespoons if either the banana or the egg is small.
*1/4 cup oil

OPTIONAL YUMMIES:
*chopped nuts, any kind
*raisins or dried fruit

METHOD:
* mix first 4 ingredients in a plastic zipper bag--these are the "dry ingredients"
*blend together banana, egg, milk, oil --these are the "wet ingredients"
*combine wet and dry ingredients in the zipper bag, exclude air from bag, then mash dry and wet ingredients together until fairly uniform
*work mixture to bottom of bag, open bag and let in a big air bubble, then reseal the bag
*cut one corner off zipper bag, and, using the zipper bag as a pastry bag, squeeze small amount of batter into each prepared muffin paper
*add optional ingredients (nuts, raisins, etc)
*finish filling muffin papers

*Bake at 400 degrees until tops are brown and cake tester comes out clean (12-15 minutes).
*Let cool for easiest unwrapping.

As you can imagine, it is possible to mix together the dry ingredients the night before, so all you have to do for breakfast muffins is pop the wet ingredients into the blender, then pour those into the bag in the AM. Heck, you can keep several ready-made bags of muffin mix in the pantry, so you can have muffins any time you like.

At clean-up time, your muffin pan isn't usually messy because you didn't grease the papers, and the squeezing trick helps avoid dribbling batter onto the tin. The zipper bag gets tossed. The blender is a very quick wash-up if, as soon as you empty the blender, you take a minute to fill the blender with a little water, a few drops of soap and then a quick whirl to fill the blender with soap suds. In fact, with this pre-soaking method, there is usually no wash up of the blender at all--just a rinse.

--Good appetite from TECHknitter (You have been reading TECHknitting on: "no mess muffins")