Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cornmeal Mango Muffins for Memorial Day

Sorry, no TWD this week. My husband has been complaining of "too much dessert" (can you believe it?) and what's more, I'm starting to agree with him...

So, how about breakfast? I liked the Fresh Mango Muffins from last week's "Tuesdays with Dorie" so much that I was inspired to create a variation. Behold--Cornmeal Mango Muffins!

Cornmeal Mango Muffins, version 1.0
adapted from Fresh Mango Bread from "Baking: From My Home to Yours," by Dorie Greenspan
makes 24 standard-sized muffins

1 1/2 cups medium-grind yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (2.4 oz / 68 gm)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (4.8 oz / 136 gm)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup granulated sugar (150 gm)
grated zest of 1 lime (about 1 teaspoon or 3-4 gm)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten (150 gm)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil (107 gm)
3 1/2 cups diced mango (about 3 medium mangos), about 600 gm, sprinkled with the juice of one lime (about 1 1/2 to 2 Tbs)
1 cup raisins (about 120 gm), soaked in 2 Tbs. rum

Prepare standard muffin pans, enough for 24 muffins, by lightly buttering the muffin cup depressions and then lightly spraying with oil. (This "double-greasing" helps to prevent sticking.)

Set oven rack to middle of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Rub the lime zest into the sugar with your fingers, then whisk into flour mixture.

In another bowl, mix together eggs, yogurt and oil.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour in the egg mixture, and mix just until barely incorporated. It will be more like a dough than a batter. Gently stir in diced mango and raisins.

Spoon into muffin tins, filling them about two-thirds to three-quarters full. Place in oven. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes. Rotate pans and turn oven down to 350. Bake about another 10-12 minutes, until brown around edges, golden brown and springy on top, and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pans on racks for about 10 minutes. Run a small knife or spatula around the edges of the muffins. Remove from pan to finish cooling on racks.

These were delicious! I love the sweet flavor of cornmeal with tangy sweet fruit. A heavenly combination.

Still, I came up with some ideas about what to do differently next time, namely, increase the batter a bit:

Cornmeal Mango Muffins version 2.0 (warning, not yet tried)

2 cups yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup white whole wheat flour (3.2 oz / 91 gm)
1 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (6.4 oz / 181 gm)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 c. granulated sugar (150 gm)
grated zest of 1 lime (about 1 teaspoon or 3-4 gm)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten (200 gm)
3/4 cup vegetable oil (161 gm)
6 Tbs. plain yogurt
4 cups fairly finely diced mango (from 3 large or 4 medium mangoes), about 688 gm, sprinkled with juice of one lime (about 1 1/2 to 2 Tbs.)
1 cup raisins (about 125 gm), soaked in 2 Tbs. rum

Sorry, I don't have weights for the cornmeal and yogurt right now. I'll try to remember to add them later.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

TWD: Fresh Mango Muffins

First, I apologize to all my "Tuesdays with Dorie" friends for all the late posts this month.

For this week, Kelly of Baking with the Boys chose the Fresh Mango Bread from Dorie Greenspan's wonderful book.

Somehow this recipe said "muffins" to me. And it made excellent muffins! I made a few changes -- substituting white whole wheat flour for 1 cup of the flour, reducing the white sugar to 3/4 cup, reducing the ground ginger to 1 teaspoon and the cinnamon to 1/4 teaspoon, adding 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander and a pinch of allspice, and adding the zest of an entire lime. The spice combination was great, just spicy enough but not overwhelming. Oh, I also chopped the golden raisins and soaked them in rum.

Dorie says that this will turn out more like a dough than a batter. Well, mine turned out more like a mess of crumbs than a dough! So I added in most of the juice of the lime, and that was just enough liquid to bring it together into a very thick batter. It was enough to make 23 muffins.

The muffins only took about 20 minutes to bake. They did have a bit of a tendency to stick to the pans, but I managed to get them out with only one serious casualty. (Hey, I needed to taste-test one anyway!)

After they cooled, I put them into a Tupperware container for storage and we had them for breakfast for several days thereafter. The muffins were very light, fluffy, and moist with excellent flavor. I did think they could use a bit more mango and maybe some other add-ins.

For next time, I would use more white whole wheat flour -- maybe 1 1/2 cups. I'd replace 1/4 cup of the oil with yogurt, decrease the white sugar to 1/2 cup, and increase the chopped mango to 2 1/2 or 3 cups. I wouldn't chop the raisins, and I'd add some coarsely chopped nuts.

Thanks to Kelly and Dorie for this recipe -- I'd never have thought of adding fresh mango to a quick bread or muffin, and it's great!

Monday, May 18, 2009

TWD: Tartest Lemon Tart at last

After a busy week, I'm finally getting around to showing you the Tartest Lemon Tart and Tartlets for "Tuesdays with Dorie." Many thanks to Barb of Babette Feasts for choosing this recipe!

I love lemon. I love lemon tarts -- one of my favorites is a Shaker Lemon Tart, which uses whole lemons thinly sliced. So when I saw the Tartest Lemon Tart (made with whole lemons) in "Baking: From My Home to Yours," I knew I'd have to try it. In fact, I was planning to make it even if it wasn't chosen for Tuesdays with Dorie. There was already a container of pureed Meyer lemons and sugar in the freezer, just waiting for the right moment...

And then, the heart tartlet pan showed up at T. J. Maxx -- half price. Score!

I made one recipe of Dorie's Tart Dough with almonds, divided it into 12 equal pieces, and chilled them. Then I rolled each one out into a sort of triangular shape and fitted it into the heart molds. (I tried patting the first one into the pan with my fingers, but it came out so lumpy and uneven! Rolling makes for a much more even thickness -- for me, at least.) Then I froze the dough overnight.

Into the oven for pre-baking at 375 degrees F. "Oh, these are so small, I bet I don't have to line them with foil or weight them," I thought. Yeah, right, famous last words! Peeking into the oven a few minutes later, I saw the tart shells slithering down the sides into pools of butter at the bottom. Argh! But I thought fast and managed to rescue them. When the dough was just barely beginning to set, I pushed it back up the sides of the pans with the back of a spoon. It was soft enough to squish around a bit, but just firm enough to stay in place. A little shrunken, but not too bad. And the butter pools miraculously got absorbed as they baked. Phew!

Note to self: next time, try preheating the oven to 425 degrees for a blast of heat to set the dough faster. And definitely line and weight the tartlets. That's going to be a pain. Sigh. Maybe the pan wasn't such a bargain after all.

OK, now for the filling. Most Meyer lemons have thin skins, but the ones I bought were unusually thick-skinned, so I had removed the yellow zest and discarded the white pith. I had used two of them (they're small, and besides, I love lemon) and reduced the sugar to 1 cup (they're less sour than regular lemons, and besides, I love lemon). Also added 1/4 teaspoon of salt, partly because I always add a little salt to sweet things, and partly because salt is good for reducing the perception of bitter flavors. And I had to make a quick last-minute substitution when I discovered we only had 1/3 cup of heavy cream left. I added enough sour cream to bring it up to 1/2 cup, and all was well.

I swear to you, I filled those little tarts right up to the very top of the crust! See how much they sank in the middle? But they didn't overflow -- puffed up nicely while baking, but didn't overflow. They only took about 25 minutes to cook.

And for a final problem -- once we tasted them, we agreed the ratio of filling to crust was way off. Way way off. Almost all you could taste was crust. Granted, the crust is utterly delicious, but we wanted to taste more of the filling, which is also utterly delicious.

As I had a lot of filling left over, I made some more tart crust and made this long rectangular tart as well. Next time I'm just going to make a round or rectangular tart. And there will be a next time -- because I love lemon!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My TWD will be late this week...

Sorry, folks -- my Tartest Lemon Tartlets are still baking and it's almost midnight on Tuesday night...

Head on over to the "Tuesdays with Dorie" site to find out what our other members have done with this recipe!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

TWD: Tiramisu Cake, finally!

This week's recipe for "Tuesdays with Dorie" was the "Tiramisu Cake," chosen by Megan of "My Baking Adventures." Please check out her blog for the recipe.

This was a half-recipe of cake batter, baked in two 6-inch round pans, and a full recipe of the frosting/filling. (That's the best part of tiramisu!)

The cake batter was very thick, and rose nicely. I may have underbaked it a little -- the edges were only just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, and there was no browning at all. But it tested done with a toothpick, and came out nice and moist.

Cutting the tops to level them revealed an unpleasant surprise -- a number of holes, including one massive gap! What happened, I wonder? I followed the recipe exactly (except for halving it, and I weighed everything) and also consulted Shirley Corriher's "Bakewise" for good advice and helpful tips on cakes. You know, it seems like I have this problem a lot, especially with very thick batters.

Thinking fast, I crumbled up some of the extra cake top and stuffed it into the larger holes. Good enough.

Above are some of the ingredients for the filling and frosting. Lovely local mascarpone and cream -- man, I love living in Wisconsin!

I'd stocked up on mascarpone a couple months ago when it was on sale, and frozen it. When I started whisking it with sugar and flavorings, the mixture became very runny. No way this was going to make a frosting when combined with whipped cream. It was going to be a sauce! Maybe it was because I froze it? Maybe it's this brand?

Well, that's why there's a package of unflavored gelatin stashed away in a cupboard. I used about 1/2 teaspoon of powdered gelatin, dissolved and warmed, and whisked it in. Then I folded in whipped cream. Still very soft. I chilled it in the refrigerator. Still soft. In went another 1/4 teaspoon gelatin. That wasn't too bad, although I think I should have added more. Next time, I'd do 1 teaspoon.

Finally it was firm enough to fill the cake. I did a double layer of filling with chopped chocolate in between. Yum. Then the cake chilled for a while, got a thin crumb coat of frosting, chilled some more, got the final coat, chilled some more... Finally, a dusting of cocoa, some piped frosting, and chocolate-covered cocoa beans. (By the way, piped frosting really does not want to stick to cocoa. Something to consider for next time.)

Love that thick filling! And the final verdict? The cake was fine, and the filling lovely and light. It was good. Still, I would rather have had my favorite Tiramisu -- the one they serve at The Roman Candle Pizzeria. (They make a great thin-crust Pizza Margherita, too.)

So, what would I change to make this recipe more to our tastes? Well, first, more coffee and more booze. Second, a bit less sugar. Third, more mascarpone. Finally, most likely a more spongey cake to soak up the extra coffee and booze. Hm...may as well just make tiramisu rather than a cake!

Still, many thanks to Megan for choosing this recipe! I got to practice my cake-making, assembling, and decorating skills and ended up with a very good dessert in the bargain.

My husband says he's tired of cake, it's time for pie! Does a lemon tart count as "pie," honey? I hope so, because that's what you're getting next week...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

TWD - stay tuned for Tiramisu Cake

Time has been short this week -- my cake layers are baked, wrapped and waiting in the fridge -- but the TWD Tiramisu cake won't be finished until Wednesday. I have a feeling it's going to be great! Hope you'll come back, and in the meantime, please check out what all the other wonderful "Tuesdays with Dorie" bakers have done.