I’m home! Although it may seem to the rest of the world as if I’ve never left, but between traveling and conferences and colds and flu in between, I feel like I’ve hardly been in my kitchen (except to make soup). I have a real and proper dinner simmering away on the stove right this minute, and if it turns out and I manage to take pictures before devouring it, I’ll share it with you. Meanwhile I promised a friend some muffins.
A good muffin is a wonderful thing. Once you have a good formula you can do anything with it – make it savoury with cheese and garlic and herbs, or add fruit or nuts or berries or chocolate. I do like my muffins to have a little tooth – without grains they’re a little too cupcake-like. These muffins in particular are made with oatmeal, which is soaked for a bit in buttermilk or thin yogurt (or even thinned sour cream) to soften before you start.
A few tricks for the muffin impaired: make sure your baking powder isn’t a hundred years old. If it’s in a tin with the sort of lid you have to pry off with the tip of a knife, it probably is. Once the liquid and dry ingredients are combined, be really gentle with your stirring; use a spatula if you have one, and mix just until the two are combined. Overmixing will make your muffins tough.
Like pancakes, I also see muffins as warm, cakey little opportunities to use up things that might otherwise get tossed. The half & half I left outside that froze and now comes out ever so slightly lumpy into our coffee. The cups of banana flavoured yogurt that came in the box of flavoured yogurts W begged for that he doesn’t like. The wrinkly apples and half eaten bananas and glut of Saskatoon berries still hanging out in our freezer. And yes, the soggy cereal that was left on the kitchen table. Muffins give them the chance for a new life.
The recipe is adapted from one Beth McCasland of Flagstaff, Arizona; it came from her mother’s home economics class in Louisiana in the 1940’s. By way of an old copy of Gourmet, of course. It’s a great example of how technology by and large hasn’t affected cooking from scratch that much.
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt, thinned with milk
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup canola oil or butter, melted and cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins, or 1 cup fresh or frozen berries, or a handful of anything else you think would taste good
In a large bowl, stir together the oats and buttermilk and let sit about an hour.
Preheat oven to 400°F and line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.
Add the egg, brown sugar and oil or butter to the oat mixture and stir well. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir until almost combined; add any additions you like and stir just until blended.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and springy to the touch. Serve warm. Makes 1 dozen muffins.