Recipe Week Seven

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Universal Muffin Bread

Universal Muffin Bread

Okay I feel like I’ve turned a corner with a few things and I promise I will actually cook something involving a recipe that I can post soon, but I don’t have anything right now and I think I’m already a week behind so I’m giving another universal recipe — the Universal Muffin recipe from the Tightwad Gazette — which I used to make the bread I’ve been eating for the past few weeks, that I’ve been calling squash bread, despite the fact that squash bread does not sound at all like anything anyone would want to eat.

Mmmm, squash bread…

Sometimes I cook the batter in muffin tins, but putting it in a loaf pan for bread is much easier so that’s what I usually do.

This is a good recipe to use when you’re cleaning out the pantry or fridge/freezer, you can get rid of all the little bits of stuff that somehow were overlooked, that aren’t quite enough to make something on their own, but that you’d feel bad throwing away. (Or at least I feel bad throwing away. I think most Americans have far less of a problem throwing things away than I do.)

I made a batch once and added in a whole bunch of random stuff — the scrapings from an almost empty container of jam, and cooked steel-cut oats that I hadn’t gotten around to eating, and a whole bunch of other things — and while I was doing it I thought, “I hope this isn’t really good because I’ll never be able to make it again.” It was good, and I’ll never be able to make it again, but I decided that was okay. I can make something else and that will be good too.

The last batch I made had a little bit of cornmeal and the crumbs from the Scrap holiday party cookies, and the main point was to use up the squash I had cooked but not managed to eat while it was fresh, and it came out pretty well overall, but either ratio of squash to grain was too high, or I should have used the blender trick described below. It’s a little heavy. But more than edible, I would put it in the good range, somewhere near the edge of very good.

The good thing about making muffins like this is you can adjust the fat and sweetener to suit your tastes — commercial muffins are more like cupcakes than muffins. And they are giant. It’s ridiculous.

You can make a savory version (corn muffins, cheese, etc.) to round out dinner or a sweet version (blueberry, banana, etc.) to round out breakfast. Either version makes a good afternoon snack. They freeze well, so you can make up a batch and wrap and put in the freezer, then take out one piece at a time to toast and eat.

Good stuff.

Universal Muffin Recipe
from The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn

Grain
2 to 2-1/2 cups flour (white, whole-wheat, rye, etc.), oatmeal, cornmeal, cereal.

Liquid
1 cup milk or buttermilk, or substitute fruit juice for all or part of the milk.

Fat
1/4 cup oil or 4 tablespoon melted butter or margarine. Or substitute peanut butter for all or part of the fat.

Egg
1 egg.

Sweetener
2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup white sugar or up to 3/4 cup brown sugar or up to 1/2 cup honey or molasses (decrease liquid to 3/4 cup if using liquid sweetener).

Baking Powder
2 teaspoons. If using whole or cooked grains or more than 1 cup of additions, increase to 3 teaspoons. If using buttermilk or sour milk, decrease to 1 teaspoon and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

Salt
1/2 teaspoon (or less if on a salt-restricted diet).

Optional Additions

Additions can be used in any combination, up to 1-1/2 cups total. If using more than 1 cup of wet additions, decrease the milk to 1/2 cup.

Dry Additions
Nuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, coconut, and so on.

Moist Additions
Blueberries, chopped apple, freshly shredded zucchini, shredded carrot, and so on.

Wet Additions
Pumpkin puree; applesauce; mashed, cooked sweet potato; mashed banana; mashed cooked carrot, and so on. If using 1/2 cup drained, canned fruit or thawed shredded zucchini, substitute the syrup or zucchini liquid for all or part of the milk.

Spices
Use spices that complement the additions, such as 1 tsp cinnamon with 1/4 tsp nutmeg or cloves. Try 2 tsp grated orange or lemon peel.

Jellies and Jam
Fill cups half full with a plan better. Add 1 tsp jam or jelly and top with 2 more tablespoons batter.

Topping
Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the batter in the tins.

Nonsweet Combinations
Use only 2 Tbsp of sugar and no fruit. Add combinations of the following: 1/2 cup shredded cheese, 3 strips fried-and-crumbled bacon, 2 Tbsp grated onion, 1/2 cup shredded zucchini, 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese. Spices could include a teaspoon of parsley and a pinch of marjoram.

All this may seem a bit complicated to follow first thing in the morning. So, once you learn the possible variations, copy the following list of ingredients into your personal cookbook.

For a Single Batch of 12 Muffins

2 to 2-1/2 cup grain
1 cup milk
up to 1/4 cup fat
1 egg
up to 1/2 cup sweetener
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
up to 1-1/2 cups additions

Combine dry ingredients, and then mix in wet ingredients until just combined; the batter should be lumpy. Grease muffin tin and fill cups two-thirds full. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (give or take 5 minutes).

She also includes a follow-up article about using cooked grains or other wet ingredients in the above recipe. Here’s the info on that:

First, I mix all of the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Then I put all of the wet and moist ingredients in a blender. These could include: cooked grain (about 1/2 cup per batch), egg, milk, honey or molasses, peanut butter, pumpkin puree, applesauce, and/or banana. I’ve even added unused cookie dough and pastry scraps. I don’t blenderize any moist ingredient that I want to retain its original texture, such as shredded zucchini.

After blending, I mix the wet stuff into the bowl of dry stuff.

I make final adjustment to the batter by adding more liquid or flour.

The blender seems to whip up the egg sufficiently as well as helps to quickly combine hard to mix in moist stuff.

6 Responses to “Recipe Week Seven”

  1. Valerie Says:

    Muffins and quick breads are a wonderful way to use up bits and pieces in the bread world, like soups and casseroles are to bits and pieces in the rest of the food world. Any experiements in these areas almost always turn out to be good enough to eat, if not downright delicious. I’ve only had a couple of things over mt many years of cooking that we just could not choke down. And there is a real sense of satisfaction in using up things that might have later just ended up in the trash.

    Peace, Valerie

  2. Lorrie Says:

    I’ve been using this recipe for years. It’s wonderful and I don’t even have to look at a recipe as I have it memorized. Let’s see; (Note the use of the semicolon.) I’ve made banana, banana nut, banana chocolate chip, apple, blueberry, cranberry orange, pumpkin (with or without nuts or chocolate chips, carrot, zucchini, and probably some others I don’t remember at the moment. We love muffins!

  3. Lorrie Says:

    Oops, forgot to close the parentheses in the previous comment! Ugh!

  4. lessisenough Says:

    Now everyone — including me — is going to be paranoid about our spelling and punctuation. But no worries, I grade on content, not punctuation.


  5. […] is a tutorial on how to create a muffin. I found it online for you, dear Cronies, on a blog called Less is Enough. Amy was a leader in the frugal movement in the 90s, and I still have her books. Admittedly, some […]


  6. […] is a tutorial on how to create a muffin. I found it online for you, dear Cronies, on a blog called Less is Enough. Amy was a leader in the frugal movement in the 90s, and I still have her books. Admittedly, some […]


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