7 Days, 7 Photos Challenge, Day 5

“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day”.

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Today I would like to tag Arbie to take up the challenge!

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A Muffin Query

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A Muffin Query

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There is no shortage of great recipes during the holiday season and I recently came across one for a delicious looking quick bread. The recipe, which was titled A to Z Bread, was a pretty standard quick bread formula, but what made it stand out was the number and type of variations it included. In a little under an hour and a half I could make two loaves with a variety of options. But what to choose? Many of the combinations sounded great and I couldn’t decide. It occurred to me that it would be fun to enlist my friends and family in the process, so I went with muffins, which are easier to portion, instead of a full loaf and I split the batter so that I could try out a couple variants.

I combined the dry and wet ingredients as per the recipe and added the 1 cup of pumpkin.

Then I split the batter equally, and yes, for those who know me, I did use my scale for that!

I added ½ cup butterscotch chips to one batch and ½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips to the other. Each batch yielded 10 standard sized muffins when measured by a scoop and they were baked off at 350°F for 15 minutes.

Now, lets be honest here, muffins are really just cupcakes with a tighter crumb. They are not healthy or good for you, so why not own that! I always glaze my quick breads and did not see a reason to stop now. I made two types of basic glazes for the different muffins. The pumpkin butterscotch was iced with a cinnamon vanilla bean shown here.

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Cinnamon Vanilla Glaze

The pumpkin chocolate was topped with a mocha coffee glaze. I was pleased with the results. The muffins were moist and had that nice crumb that is associated with quick breads. It was now time to start the competition.

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My first test subject were my two good friends from culinary school. We had a split vote, one cast for each flavor. One of those friends asked her husband to weigh in with his opinion and he voted for the mocha muffin. My son also went with the mocha flavor but my husband and daughter were clearly in the butterscotch camp. If you are keeping track that makes the score even, three votes for each variation. That makes me the tiebreaker. It was a tough position to be in but I finally choose butterscotch.

Now I am the first to point out that seven data points are not statistically significant and there is no way that this study would make it through a rigorous peer review process, but the bottom line is this. They were both quite tasty and I had a lot of fun with conducting this sweet survey! I can see a possible recurring query segment in my near future. If you have an idea for me, please let me know!

Cinnamon Vanilla Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1 t. vanilla paste

1/4 t. cinnamon extract

1 T. milk, plus for more consistency

Combine sugar, vanilla paste and cinnamon extract. Add the milk, 1 T. to start and whisk. Add milk in small amounts until desired consistency for drizzling.

Mocha Coffee Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

2 T. Dark cocoa powder

2 T. prepared coffee, cooled

1/4 t. coffee liqueur

Combine sugar, cocoa powder, coffee and coffee liqueur. Whisk together adding more coffee if a thinner glaze is desired. Thin with more coffee or milk if needed.

Great Recipes

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we are heading out for food, football and festivities. I am lucky because I have amazing parents-in-law (is that a term?). Both my mother and father in-law are kind and generous and have always made me feel like part of the family. After 30 years with my husband, I have come to appreciate them more each year. My mother-in-law loves to cook so there is not a lot I can bring to the table, with one exception-bread!  We all love fresh baked bread and rolls and I happen to really enjoy bread baking. This year I decided to do something different and found these adorable pumpkin bread rolls on Pinterest. This is one of those great recipes that you don’t have to tinker with at all. Usually I change some things to accommodate my picky family, but these are perfect as is!

I found this from the “handle the heat” page, Pumpkin Dinner Rolls and served them to our dinner guests one evening. It was hard to tell which they liked better, the rolls or the cinnamon butter served on the side. I decided to make them again for Thanksgiving. One thing I should mention about my style of cooking and baking is that I am one of those who likes to weigh out my ingredients. I am a molecular biologist by training and love the reproducibility and precision that results from scaling out ingredients as opposed to using measuring cups which can produce different volumes and introduce variable results. Ok, I got that out of the way! I use an inexpensive scale purchased from Bed, Bath and Beyond and it works great (both english and metric units)

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It is dusty from flour and I said I am precise-not neat!

This recipe is simple, once the dough comes together it will double in 45 min to an hour.

I use plastic wrap and mark the time with a sharpie, otherwise I will forget how long they have been rising. I love my granite counter tops but they do get cold in the winter months so I often will place the bowl on a towel to warm the bottom of the bowl, then cover with cloth and hope the room is warm enough!

The fun part is the shaping. I use my handy scale again and weigh out 2 oz. of dough, which yields 16 rolls. The recipe says to divide the dough into 15 balls, but I like mine to be more uniform and am not capable of eye balling 15 equal pieces. One of the tricks is to get a smooth surface for the ball of dough. In culinary school, I was shown a number of ways to get that taught surface but only one method worked for me. I take the 2 oz. clump of dough, flatten it and push the smooth side through a ring formed by my index and thumb, while pinching the underside together to form a seam. This is a good picture, but not my hands doing the work!

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Eventually my rolls looked like this, these are my hands!

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The rolls were flattened slightly and the “ridges” of the future pumpkin were made by slicing 8 seams (leaving an intact center) which looked like spokes of a wheel.

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I placed 8 sliced rolls onto a parchment lined, full sheet tray (so, two trays total) and let the rolls rise for another hour. At that point I used the end of a wooden spoon to make the indentation for the future stem, brushed them with the egg white wash and baked them off in the oven at 350F, for about 25 minutes. My oven takes a little longer time to finish baking due to the bread stone that I keep in there for artisan breads (more on that in another post!)

The pecan “stem” was added after they had cooled a bit and they look a lot like the Pinterest picture. I was quite happy with the appearance but even more satisfied with the taste. Just the right amount of pumpkin.  I think the family will be very happy tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving!