New Englanders love a good muffin. And yes, that includes a good muffin top. A moist, not-too-sweet morning quickie that can be touchy to make but, when perfected, can fill your belly up with warmth and love.
I learned to appreciate a good muffin working in New England while in college and after. The typical muffins were represented there of course . . . cranberry, blueberry, since those fruits come from that region anyway. My favorite was the bran muffin.
But yesterday morning I was staring at those 8 jars of strawberry preserves (yeah, that's down from 15; I've already given some away), and thought, why couldn't I use those preserves in a muffin, not just on one.
So here's my recipe for Strawberry Preserves Oatmeal Muffins:
1 1/3 Cup unbleached flour
2/3 Cup whole wheat flour (this is optional; you can use all white flour if you want for a total of 2 Cups)
1 Cup sugar
1/3 Cup uncooked oats (I use quick oats but any rolled oats would do)
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 Cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.
In another bowl mix:
1/2 pint of strawberry preserves
rind and juice from one med. orange
1/4 Cup of canola oil
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Spray your muffin pan or you'll be sorry.
Now, you know the trick to perfect muffins, right? Well, here it is if you don't. It has to do with how you mix the dry and wet ingredients and for how long.
This batter is pretty thick, so spoon a good amount into the muffin tins filling them to 3/4 full at least. Then sprinkle them all with some more sugar to get you that crunchy sweet muffin top and bake for 15-18 minutes. Just keep looking at them. When they are a golden brown around the muffin top and spring back when you press in the middle, they are done, get them out quick.
Here's the reason for the mania about mixing the batter:
If you don't stop mixing the minute all the ingredients are moist, then you start activating the gluten in the flour and you DO NOT WANT THAT!
If you really want the total New England muffin experience, slice your cooled muffin in half, slather a generous amount of butter on each side, then lay it face down onto a hot griddle for a couple minutes. What you end up with is a toasted buttery outside and a warm steamy inside. If you are a really decadent New Englander, you put even more butter on it before you eat it.
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