Pioneering Muffins

I have been sucked into the world of Pinterest. I’m still learning how to use it. But I’ve made about a dozen boards already, and it’s so much fun.

Through Pinterest, I found a recipe for “Moist Pumpkin Spice Muffins (With Cream Cheese Frosting).”

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/10/moist-pumpkin-spice-muffins-with-cream-cheese-frosting/

I pinned and clicked and wanted to see what the recipe called for. I have a weakness for pumpkin. I love pumpkin pie. Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin scents. . .

Mmm.

The link shot me over to the site of the Pioneer Woman from Food Channel! My mom loves her stuff. I scrolled, and (sorry about my scepticism) but I was surprised to find that I liked it!

She had a picture to go with each step. And for those like me who are challenged, this is the most helpful thing. It’s why I like doing step by step pictures on my blog. It’s helpful.

Anyway, I was hooked. And the pictures gave me confidence. I thought, “I can do this.”

And we had all the ingredients. All I needed to get was canned pumpkin.

On the other hand, when I was telling people I was making pumpkin muffins, they would give me this look and feel compelled to remind me that it isn’t fall.

People. I wear dark colors in spring. I don’t care!

Pumpkin muffins. I think you just don’t understand the enormity of this glorious circumstance. PUMPKIN MUFFINS!

We were having the Singles/College and Career Sunday school over at our house for a fellowship, so I decided to make these muffins for the event.

I’ve saved myself so many times by taking all the ingredients I’ll need and putting them on the counter. It wouldn’t be the first time that half way through the recipe I realize we’re missing vanilla or butter. Butter happens more often. And then I’m stuck with awkward batter in a bowl and don’t know what to do with it.

These are all the ingredients you’ll need for the recipe. (PS, I am in no way saying this recipe is mine. I’ve made it clear that I’m following Pioneer Woman.)

So, obedient to the recipe, I started by sifting a cup of flour.

Half a cup of sugar.
I was totally trying this whole capturing-slowmotion-pouring thing.
A teaspoon of baking powder (not to be confused with baking soda, which usually comes in an orange box).

Then the three musketeers, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, which obviously refused to stay still because the picture came out fuzzy in all of them.

Then you bang the heck out of the strainer against your hand until it all falls through, fluffy and perfect.

Pioneer Woman says that if she has little kernels still at the bottom of her strainer, she’ll rub them through with her fingers.

Or you can be like me who gave up and thought that my muffins could definitely survive without those pieces and thus tapped the strainer to the side of the sink until all the pieces fell out.

We can’t all be Pioneer Woman.

Next was butter.

Four table spoons, which you then slice into smaller pieces. My butter was soft by the time I got to this, so my slicing was slow, as if it was for revenge.

If that wasn’t enough, I tossed the chunks into my bowl and mashed the life out of it until it was no longer there.

This is what it looks like “fully incorporated.”

In a seperate bowl, you plop your heaping cup of pumpkin. I made a mess.

Then evaporated milk.

Which you’re supposed to “shake well” before opening. Of course, I didn’t notice that until I already pierced the side. I attempted to hold my thumb there as I shook it but it still got everywhere.

Then vanilla.

Finally an egg. Then you mix it all up until it’s this ugly pale orange color.

It apparently offended my camera because my camera refused to focus.

Next you dump this mixture into your dry mixture and stir it in. Pioneer Woman put it this way, “don’t beat it to death. Have a heart.” That made me laugh.

Especially after my Revenge Of The Butter episode.

I’m uber professional, so I use an ice cream scooper to fill up my muffin (well cupcake) tins. I had greased them with Crisco before hand.

Before I had begun, I realized my initial mistake: the recipe only made ten muffins, it said. And we were having a bunch of college age people coming. My mom’s solution was that we’d cut them in half.

So anyway, about at this point, I was feeling very good about myself. I slid them into the oven and set the timer. Then came back a few minutes later and thought I’d take a picture of them in the oven.

Then I started on the dishes.

 About which time, I started yelling…

“OH NO! No! No, no, no!” I scrambled to dry my hands and grab my phone, and I checked the recipe and sure enough. I forgot to add the cinnamon sugar topping before sticking them in the oven.

I snatched them out of the oven. They had six minutes to go and were already fluffed and perfect… minus the topping.

I gathered all my baking skills together and tried not to kick myself because this is exactly where we went wrong last time. Except this time I didn’t overdose on the salt.

I tried an egg white glaze, painting it on, then sprinkling the sugar mixture.

I stuck it back in the oven, but I knew the muffins were done and there was no way the sugar was going to melt in such a short period of time.

The sugar wasn’t sticking the way I wanted it to.

As I final precaution, I got a spoon of water and used my finger to flick droplets onto the muffins.

This saved me the most. It actually looked like I iced them a little afterwards.

Now, I have an explanation on why it went wrong.

I was over-using my phone. This is seriously my excuse? This is seriously my excuse. I was using my phone to look at the recipe, I was using my phone to take the pictures, I was using the phone to listen to Spotify, I was using the phone to text people how I was making muffins. Overload.

Simple fix! I’ll print out the recipe next time. And I ended up quitting spotify and turning on the radio in the front room instead.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

They were good, though. Not as sweet as I would like, but the topping did help. I skipped the cream cheese icing since this was for an outdoor party, and that sounded too messy. But the muffins were a hit. They didn’t last very long.

But they definitely were moist. I told Jake there weren’t any carbs in them so he tried one. He said they were delicious, and yes I can cook, and I had his blessing that I was now ready and prepared to find a man, which I found way funnier than it actually was so I yelled, “Yaye, I can find a man!!” in an excited voice that was definitely too loud to be socially acceptable.

So this was a success/fail.

I guess my desserts never look like the picture anyway..

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How Not To Bake (With Julie)

Because Julie and I have a lot of guy friends (which you may have picked up on if you read my other blogs), we decided we desperately needed a girls’ day to catch up, to which she replied.

“Well I’m making breakfast muffins, wanna come over and help me?”

Just like that, I finished up the blog post I was writing for The Rebekah Koontz Site, changed out of my PJs, and hopped in my car with the random piece of scrap paper I used to scribble (and doodle) the directions Julie gave me to get to her house. I used two arches to describe “past McDonalds” and a movie reel to indicate “left after the movie theater”.

I got there without any trouble, and was very proud of myself.

After an initial tour of her kitchen and bedroom, and makeup collection, and ceremonial meeting of her pet bearded dragon, Eclipse, and cute little guinea pig, Panda (perfect name for a guinea pig!), I was filled in on the muffin-making process.

The oats were supposed to soak for half an hour, she told me, which she forgot to do, but waiting for the time to pass wasn’t very hard once we got to talking. Then soon it was time to start the batter. She showed me the recipe and pictures on her phone.

What they’re supposed to look like when we’re done. .

So we got started! I set up all the ingredients on the kitchen table. The muffins had cranberries, and blueberries, and applesauce, and cinnamon, and brown sugar.

Julie said that we’d be making two batches of muffins. We decided one batch would be blueberry and the other would be cranberry cinnamon. Sounded pretty good to me. We added those ingredients by eye.

Julie’s mom was teasing her, asking if she knew how to separate eggs, so here’s the proof of Julie being the good homemaker, separating eggs. We needed the egg whites for the muffins. Then she dumped the yolks in a separate bowl and before I could scream “NO!”, she flicked the egg shells in there too.

I don’t know why I have this need to save and recycle everything, especially eggs. (PS you can use egg whites on your face as a mask. It’ll harden and be stiff and after you wipe it off with a warm rag, your face feels super soft.)

I scared Julie into a hilarious confusion with my sudden scream and we both started laughing. I quickly saved the egg yolks from their fate.

Egg yolk hero

As she separated eggs, I measured out the applesauce for each batch.

Not sure if this was taken before or after the egg fiasco. .

Then it was time to mix it up.

Which Julie does like a pro.

I was in charge of the dry ingredients. .

 Which might’ve been a mistake on their part. .

We were talking about how strange it was that the muffins have no sugar IN them (they’re supposed to be healthy). When Julie’s mom said, “yeah that is strange. . And that looks like way too much salt too, Rebekah.”

“It says a tablespoon.” I said, shrugging, and dumped it in the bowl.

At that, Julie grabbed the recipe. “It says teaspoon!”

I spent the next couple minutes trying to evenly distribute that little mound of salt between the two bowls.

Then I got to whisk it together.

We combined the dry  ingredients to the wet, as the recipe instructed, then Julie mixed them together, being sure not to over-mix “or else the muffins will be tough,” whatever that meant.

We started joking around about our hair being down. Have you realized how many girl bakers and cooks have their messy hair falling all over the place? Even if it’s up, there’s still some hanging down. It drives my mom crazy.

I guess they still want to be glamorous and flip their hair all around. As Jake would say: “thristy.”

My final job was making the cinammon-brown-sugar crumble for the top, then we coated and filled the muffin tins.

Then we popped them in the oven. . . and started to talk.

In retrospect, this is probably where we went wrong. It isn’t as though we left them unattended in the kitchen and they burnt to a crisp. We were right there, talking next to the oven the entire time, leaning against the counter and smelling the yummy muffin smells.

Julie’s mom came in and asked, between our laugher and whispering and giggling, if we were watching the muffins. Julie replied yes and opened the oven door to prove it. “They still look a little pale,” she said.

That’s what reminded me. “Oh no! The cinnamon crumble!!”

I ran over to the kitchen table where the bowl still sat, laughing at me, and brought it back.  We took the muffins out of the oven and proceeded an attempt of salvaging them.

Julie came up with the idea of pricking them with a fork and then padding the sugar on it, so we started a system. I took over the pricking and she packed on the sugar, then they finished their time in the oven.

Luckily we had a second chance with the next batch and did those ones right, even after realizing we used up ALL the cinnamon-sugar mix, for both the batches, on the first one, and had to make more.

Here’s the difference in the two batches.

Soon it was time for taste testing and we cut each in half to try them.

There was some silence as we munched.

“Hmm.”

“Hmm.”

“They taste good.”

“Yeah.”

I think it was Julie’s mom who was the most honestly blunt. “Are they supposed to be so rubbery?”

Ha. .

I think we figured out what it meant for muffins to be “tough”. However they did taste good! And not too salty either! X-D