Monday, October 01, 2012

Soybutter and Concord Grape Muffins

Each fall, I make Concord grape jelly, and before it has a chance to set, I'm looking for new ways to make use of it. Last weekend, I introduced my husband and son to my childhood favourite of cream cheese and jelly sandwiches (on white bread, of course). Today, I baked muffins.

As muffins go, these are a bit more work than the, "dump it all in a bowl and stir" variety, but not really that much more work. You need to cut the butter and soy butter into the dry ingredients like a scone, but otherwise, these shouldn't take but five minutes from start to oven.

You may of course, use any nut/soy/seed butter you like. We go between soy and sunflower butters. I personally prefer the sunflower butter, but it is difficult to source where I live, and much more expensive. In baked goods I'm not really able to detect much difference save for aroma-the soy butter essentially has none, where the sunflower could really fool you into thinking it was peanut. Once you toss the Concord grape in there, it overwhelms everything else, so it hardly matters here. Last weekend, Danny woke to what he called an, "aggressive odour of we live in a winery." I told him someday he'd recall it fondly, the way I start missing my Gran when I smell chicken fat rendering, or mothballs, or both at the same time. It wasn't just her flat either-the entire building smelled of chicken fat and mothballs. Long, dark hallways with televisions and radios blaring from behind black high gloss painted doors, chicken fat, mothballs, and sometimes cabbage. And herring. Not bad for subsidised pensioner housing in Chicago. Sometimes her place  did smell like booze as her husband made cherry wine. And herring. In a small, dark, two room apartment in Chicago. See how powerful our senses of smell are on nostalgia?

Right, so these muffins are great, and if you don't have homemade jelly, that's OK-you could even skip it, or use whatever flavour you have on hand. When I was small, my mother would sometimes toss a few M&M's in the centre of a muffin as a surprise ( and boy were we ever surprised because we never saw real, live M&M's laying around the house, so it was always kind of miraculous when they turned up in a muffin-almost as fantastic as the idea of my mother hauling her arse into the kitchen and baking something). The beauty of muffins, compared to other baked items is how flexible they are. Unless you underbake or burn them beyond recognition, you'll likely get something edible. The only hard and fast rule is that they must be topped with coarse sugar crystals. No exceptions. If you don't top your muffins with coarse sugar crystals the terrorists ( and nutrition experts, and other assorted bastards that want to tell you how to live) win.

You Will Need:

2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup sugar (use less if you have a sweetened soy butter)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (again, adjust for the saltiness of your soy butter brand)
1/2 cup soy butter
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk (I used 2 % but anything will do)
2 large eggs, beaten
Jelly/jam for filling
Coarse sugar crystals that you must use

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12 muffin tin with papers or grease well. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the soy butter and regular butter until you have a fine meal. Combine milk and eggs and add all at once. Mix just until combined. Drop a heaping tablespoon of batter into each cup. Add a teaspoon of jelly, then top carefully with more batter until all is used. Sprinkle generously with the corase sugar crystals that you must use. Bake about 15 minutes, or until done. Mine took about 18 minutes, but you know your oven better than mine and I like to err on the side of too soon rather than too late, which in *most* things is a good approach to life.

Extra muffins can be sored tightly wrapped in sandwich bags sealed with a twist tie, and frozen.

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