Bakery Blues

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One of my main sorrows in leaving the city is the lack of a good sit-down bakery to enjoy delicious baked goods for breakfast (I’m not talking about cupcakes).  Ever since our first daughter was born, we made a ritual of going out to breakfast on the week-ends.  I would bring my daughter to one of the various coffee/ bakery shops around us and we would enjoy some quality mommy-daughter time.  It was always such a pleasant way to begin the week-end.  In moving to the suburbs, I had a hard time finding the perfect breakfast spot that had the ambiance and the the quality of baked goods.  One of our favorite places to frequent in Brooklyn was a wonderful little bakery called Blue Sky Bakery.  They make the most delicious muffins.  All of them are fresh-made daily and incorporate seasonal ingredients, such as fresh pumpkin or apple in the fall, peaches in the summer, and so on.  On any given day, they have at least 10 varieties to choose from.  My daughter loved to eat all of the fruit out of my muffins and we thoroughly enjoyed the varieties offered each day.

I wondered if I could find the recipe for these muffins, as the shop only had two base recipes, one bran and one non-bran, with different fruit mixtures for variety.  I was in luck and thank you Google for helping me find it!  These are seriously the best bran muffins I have had and I was so excited to find the recipe out there.  I found out that it was published in a cookbook “Table of Contents“.  You can use any combination of fruit in these muffins and they are always amazing.  I made these as my two year old sat on the kitchen counter watching me create these wonders and when they were done, she dug in, eating all the fruit out of the center, just like her sister used to do.  It’s like they’re related!  You should try these muffins out.  Not too sweet, very easy and fast, extremely delicious!

Blue Sky Bakery Bran Muffin (makes 2 dozen)

  • 2 and 2/3 c buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 c vegetable oil
  • 3 c. wheat bran
  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c. dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cup fruit (I used raspberries and peaches)

Preheat oven to 425 and coat muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.

Mix buttermilk, eggs and oil in a medium bowl.

In seperate bowl combine wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and salt.

Pour wet mixture into dry one and mix until just combined.

Place about 2 tbsp of batter in each muffin tin (the batter will expand to fill about 1/2 the cup).  Place a generous layer of fruit  (about 2 heaping teaspoons) into each cup.  Measure 2 tsp of the sugar in a small bowl, taking pinches with your fingers, sprinkle the sugar over the fruit.  Divide remaining batter evenly among the muffin cups.  Place remaining 2 tspn of sugar into bowl and pinch and sprinkle the sugar over the top!

Bake for 5 minutes.  Rotate muffin tins front to bake to ensure even cooking and bake for another 11-13 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it.  Do NOT overbake.

Cook on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove muffins from tin.

 

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A CSA Experiment

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Well, it’s that time of year again where our CSA finally begins! I’m always excited to see what interesting produce we will get. For those of you who don’t know what a CSA is, it stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”. It’s a seasonal affiliation where a farm will provide you with weekly seasonal produce for a lump sum for the season. It’s a great way to support local farmers as well as get fresh, seasonal produce in the process! The wonderful thing about where we live is there are many opportunities to do this and there are many different types of CSA’s. There are ones that are all produce, some have meat, eggs, breads, and also flowers!

This time we received a quart of black currants. Now, I can honestly say that I’ve never had a currant in my life. I had no idea what they tasted like nor how to prepare them or what to do with them. I tried one and it was surprising. I had always expected it to be sweet, like a cherry or a grape. It was actually more of a tart, musky/ salty flavor. The skin was thicker and the inside was akin to a tomato, having a sac of seeds surrounded by juice.

I found a lot of recipes using currants in jams or cakes. I thought that making a pie with these would be great but I didn’t have enough. I figured with the flavor, it may go well with mangoes, which I just happened to have in my freezer. Now, I have tried to bake before with mangoes, but I have found that the best bang for your buck is to keep a bag of frozen mangoes in your freezer and use those for when the baking bug bites. So, mango currant bread. Instead of using my usual go-to quick-bread recipe, I decided to use the pound cake recipe base and add the fruit. Since the currant is not quite as sweet, I thought that the pound cake recipe’s sweetness and the sweetness from the mangoes would help balance the tart, saltiness of the currants.

Let me tell you, this recipe is delicious. The baking of the currants really ripened the flavors so that the sweetness from the cake and mango are nicely punctuated with the tangy and tart flavor of the currants. I love how baking is a universal medium for ingredients! My daughter immediately wanted a slice and then proceeded to pick out all the currants. She also really like the currants raw and was trying to eat them all as I was mixing up the batter. What a little consumer!

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Mango Currant Bread

1 stick butter, softened

1 1/2 C granulated sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

3 eggs

1 1/2 C flour

1/2 C heavy cream

1 C black currants, washed

1 C frozen chopped mangoes

Cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla and beat eggs in one at a time. Add flour in half cup increments, beating as you go. Add heavy cream and whip for 5-10 minutes until the batter is very smooth and fluffy. Fold in currants and mango. Oil or butter a bread pan and pour the batter into the pan, spreading evenly. Put the bread in a cold oven and bake for 90 minutes at 350 degrees or until a cake tester comes out clean. Take the bread out and let it cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack. Use a spatula to loosen it from the bread pan and set it on the wire rack to cool completely.