Coming Back and Bloggers Bake For Hope 2012

Hi there.

Remember me?

Bubbly baking blogger from Boston passionate about serving scrumptious sweets to her family and friends? Sound familiar?

Well, I have most certainly not forgotten you. On the contrary, you’ve been on my mind and in my heart all this time- it’s been deeply distressing to be separated from all the phenomenal people who used to visit my site, as well as my fellow blogging buddies and baking groups. While it’s been more difficult than you can imagine for me to jump back in the mix, my very special role as a contributing member to the baking blogosphere is simply too important to abandon forever. It is an honor and a privilege to share my kitchen conquests with you, and I treasure the unique opportunity to connect with other talented and enthusiastic cooks and bakers from literally all over the world. Thankfully, I’ve come to know you lot as an extremely understanding and supportive group of folks, who welcome my participation with open arms whenever possible. Looking forward, I plan to partake in some new and exciting endeavors, including joining the Avid Bakers Challenge, an amazing assemblage of bakers led by my dear friend Hanaâ of “Hanaâ’s Kitchen,” who tackle the same recipe together each month. In the immediate future, I have the privilege of utilizing my baking to contribute to a great cause, Bloggers Bake For Hope 2012. When I discovered this exceptional effort to raise funds for the Avon Foundation, I just knew it was time to return to “Hot Oven, Warm Heart,” and in some small way, draw upon my baking for good.

Organized by two highly generous bloggers, Jen of “Beantown Baker” and Fiona of “A Boston Food Diary,” Bloggers Bake for Hope is an online virtual bake-sale event, with all proceeds benefiting the Avon Foundation. Participating bloggers will provide information about their baked goods, and each item will get its own blog post, which can be found here, when the bake sale opens on Monday, April 30th. If you would like to place a bid, leave a comment on the appropriate page with the dollar amount (All bidding will start at $15). Bidding will close on Wednesday, May 2nd, with the highest bidder being awarded the item. They will be notified via email during the weekend of May 5th, at which point they can return to the homepage, and pay via Paypal by clicking on the button reading “donate.” Once the donation has been made, the winner’s address will be sent to the baker, who will ship the baked goods sometime during the month of May. It’s really much simpler than it sounds, I promise!

When selecting my submission, I drew upon my greatest inspiration, both in life and the kitchen, my beloved Grammy. She cooked her way into countless hearts over the years, serving up mouth-watering meals and special memories that will stay with those she touched forever. My best friend, and my hero, Grammy and I shared a sincere passion for preparing food and serving others that goes beyond words. Along with innumerable other life lessons that have shaped me into the woman I am today, she taught me what it means to translate love to the plate. As my passion for baking grew, her support was inimitable and I could see the pride she felt shining deeply in her eyes. Of the many treats I had the pleasure of making for her, these simple corn muffins, always served alongside my homemade jam, made her light up in a way I can’t describe. It was as if she couldn’t believe her granddaughter had possibly baked something so delicious. I never understood what was so special about these muffins, but I certainly understood how special she made me feel when she ate one.

I hope the recipient of my package, complete with Grammy’s favorite corn muffins and jam, knows just how much I appreciate their support, and that tucked inside they just might find a little bit of love I was sure not to forget.

Me and Grammy in her kitchen, 1989

SMS: Orange Blueberry Muffins with Pecan Crumble

I hope that Chaya of Sweet & Savory will forgive me, but I bent the rules this week and strayed a bit from the selected recipe. I still made Orange Blueberry Muffins topped with Pecan Crumble, but my muffin base is not exactly from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. Even though I made them over 9 months ago, the “sister” muffins to this week’s recipe, which featured peaches instead of blueberries, were markedly dense, heavy, and overall unimpressive. Though many of our highly creative and supremely talented bakers offered valuable suggestions to address the muffins’ textural inadequacies, I felt they were sadly beyond saving. 😦 And, it just so happens that I’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to try my beloved Cook’s Illustrated’s new version of Blueberry Muffins, which utilizes a unique method of injecting major fruity flavor. I figured if I honored the required orange-blueberry combination, and still topped my muffins with Sweet Melissa’s Pecan Crumble, I could keep my recently renewed participation in SMS going, and maybe offer an alternative to those who remained unsatisfied with the recipe as written.

Berry baked goods are typically banned from my household, with my MVT (Most Valuable Taster), my Mom, severely allergic. But, as it happens, my Dad LOVES a good berry studded muffin- and what kind of daughter would I be to deprive him of such an indulgence every once in a blue moon (no pun intended!)? While I hated the thought of making something my mom couldn’t also enjoy, in this particular instance, I decided it was for the greater good of SMS (and my Daddy’s belly). Not to worry though, coming up soon is a Coconut Custard Pie that has my Mom’s name written all over it!

But first, on to the muffins! I think I may have hit the blueberry muffin mother-load with this one. Break into one of these little gems, and you’ll quickly discover they are not only jam packed and bursting with bright berry goodness, but also have an incredibly moist interior, and a soft, delicate, tender crumb. Beautifully balanced with the subtle citrus undertones of orange zest (a fun, unexpected spin on the classic blueberry-lemon combo), and crowned with a sweet, crunchy, nut-filled streusel topping, the ideal textural foil for what awaits inside; they are a truly a muffin lover’s dream. While my Dad is not nearly as prolific or expressive with his reviews as my Mom, he was surely not at a loss for compliments when it came to these breakfast beauties. If they pass the Daddy deliciousness test, they will definitely have a permanent home in my recipe files.

One of my favorite features of a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, is the inclusion of a detailed history describing how it was conceived. In the process of constructing the “Best” blueberry muffin, CI tested a variety of ways to achieve maximum intensity of sweet-tart fruity flavor. Ulimately, they landed on a technique that I think is absolutely brilliant: to pump up the volume, why not take some of the berries, cook them down on the stovetop to evaporate excess juices, thus concentrating their flavor, and swirl the resulting mixture right into the muffin batter? As it turns out, this thick, potent, deep-indigo jam, swirled in along with a substantial amount of fresh fruit, gave the muffins a distinctive one-two berry punch- exactly what they needed to put them over-the-top.

But what about the muffin base- after all, that was the problem I was dealing with in the first place… what did Cook’s do to ensure I didn’t fall into the same trap I had with Melissa’s? Well, those clever folks at CI had a few tricks up their sleeves (and some interesting science to back them up)! First off, they examined the mixing method: the creaming method was out after producing muffins that were too cake-like, and unable to support the hefty amount of fruit added to the batter. A more suitable choice, was the quick-bread or “muffin method” (haha! big surprise there!) that calls for mixing the wet and the dry ingredients separately, and then gently folding them together. They stressed the importance of not over-mixing (as with pancake batter), because “overly strenuous mixing encourages the proteins in flour to cross-link and form gluten, toughening the final product.” This method proved superior, and made for muffins with a hearty crumb, substantial enough to support the generous addition of berries. Next, to achieve ultimate moisture, they considered the fat used in the recipe. The balance of butter (which contributes great flavor) and oil (more effective at making baked goods moist and tender) was the key. Apparently, “unlike butter, oil contains no water, and is able to completely coat flour proteins and prevent them from absorbing liquid to develop gluten.” Equal amounts of both fats ended up producing just the right combo of buttery flavor, and moist, tender texture. Finally, to make the muffins as rich as possible, they sought a substitute for whole milk. Buttermilk offered a slight tang (complementing the berries) and appealing richness, while still being light enough “to keep the muffins from turning into heavyweights.” And do we want heavyweights, my friends? I think not! In my eyes, they successfully deduced a winning recipe for not only blueberry muffins, but “fill-in-the-blank” muffins, that would be delicious with any selection of mix-ins. No more futzing with Melissa’s metzah-metzah muffins (that means so-so for all you non Yiddush speakers out there). These babies are where it’s at!

Thank you Chaya for hosting this week- and again, please let me apologize for taking such extreme creative liberties with the recipe. I also wanted to extend a very warm welcome your way- SMS is lucky to have you and I’m looking forward to baking together each week! To check out all the other SMSter’s muffins, swing by our blogroll– can’t wait to hear from all you lovely ladies!

Before I forget, I was hoping to pick all your baker’s brains and get some feedback/suggestions regarding a recipe that’s coming up in 2 weeks: the Coconut Custard Pie. I’d really love to use the mini (4″) tart pans I just got my hands on (they’ve been on my wish list forever), instead of a single 9″ pie plate. I get all worked up and nervous about adjusting baking times and determining when things are done, and I wasn’t sure if they’d take significantly less time in the oven for the crust to brown/custard to set (the baking time as written is 50-55 min). Are there any tell tale signs a custard pie is done? Do you want a little jiggle in the middle or no movement at all? Any advice or ideas? I’d really appreciate your help, as I (of course) want the sweet treat I make special for my Mom to be delicious (and perfectly baked)! If I can’t figure it out, I’ll just make the full pie. Has anyone tried this recipe yet? Thanks in advance for your assistance! 🙂

BEST BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated (May/June 2009)

MAKES 12 MUFFINS

Ingredients:

2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh blueberries, picked over
1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups (12½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk (see note)
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
**2 teaspoons grated orange zest

Note: If buttermilk is unavailable, substitute 3/4 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk. (*You can also use 1 cup of milk mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar- let it sit for 10 minutes, and then it’s ready to use!)

Directions:

1. FOR THE MUFFINS: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to ¼ cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 11/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk, vanilla, **and orange zest until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with a few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)

3. Use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (CI suggests that the “batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly,” however, that left me with a little overflow problem, i.e. merging muffin tops. I was worried that my muffins would be unattractive, but once split apart, they really looked fine. Next time though, I’ll only fill the cups 3/4 of the way, and make a few extra!). Spoon a teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter (I stuck my spoon down in a ways just to be sure the blueberry mixture went through and through). Using a chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using a figure-eight motion. (If using: Sprinkle pecan crumble- recipe below- generously and evenly over muffins).

4. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. (My gigantic muffins took significantly longer to pass the toothpick test, at least an additional 3-4 minutes, but if they were normal size, the baking time given would probably be accurate). Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

BEST BLUEBERRY MUFFINS WITH FROZEN BLUEBERRIES

Note: Our preferred brands of frozen blueberries are Wyman’s and Cascadian Farm.
Follow recipe for Best Blueberry Muffins, substituting 2 cups frozen berries for fresh. Cook 1 cup berries as directed in step 1. Rinse remaining cup berries under cold water and dry well. In step 2, toss dried berries in flour mixture before adding egg mixture. Proceed with recipe from step 3 as directed.

STEP-BY-STEP MAKING MUFFINS WITH BLUEBERRY FLAVOR THROUGH AND THROUGH

1. MAKE BERRY JAM

Cook half of fresh blueberries into thick jam to concentrate their flavor and eliminate excess moisture.

2. ADD FRESH BERRIES

Stir 1 cup of fresh blueberries into batter to provide juicy bursts in every bite.

3. PORTION BATTER

Scoop batter into muffin pans, completely filling cups. (Or almost filling cups!)

4. ADD JAM TO BATTER

Place 1 teaspoon of cooled berry jam in center of each batter-filled cup, pushing it below surface.

5. SWIRL INTO BATTER

Using chopstick or skewer, swirl jam to spread berry flavor throughout.

Pecan Crumble
slightly adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Clark

Makes enough for two batches of muffins (Either cut the recipe in half or use the extra in a baked fruit crumble!) I wonder if you can freeze the leftover- thoughts anyone?

I’d advise you prepare this first, and have it ready to go when your muffins are portioned.

Ingredients:

• 3/4 Cup pecan pieces
• 3/4 Cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 3/4 Cup firmly packed light brown sugar
• 3/4 Teaspoon salt
• Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
• 1/8 Teaspoon ground allspice
*I also added 1/8 Teaspoon cinnamon (just because I love it so!)
• 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, stir together the pecans, flour, brown sugar, salt, nutmeg, allspice, *and cinnamon. Stir in the melted butter.

SMS: Caramelized Onion, Sage, Cheddar & Roasted Garlic Muffins

Savory Muffins with Caramelized Onions, Sage, Cheddar & Roasted Garlic

I had no idea when I began “Hot Oven, Warm Heart,” that I would be welcomed with open arms into the baking and blogging community. I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet some truly amazing people, who have blown me away with their kind hearts, passionate souls, and generous spirits. I am so thankful that I have made some dear friends through this process, and I’m looking forward to nurturing these new relationships with each upcoming week and tasty recipe. Who knew a shared fervor for creating muffins, cookies, and cakes had the power to bring people together? Though I was planning on opting out of SMS this week because of some current craziness, I changed my mind immediately when I realized that this week’s host was the absolutely extraordinary Hanaâ – one of the most thoughtful, caring, and talented people I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know over these last few months. No matter how busy my schedule, I knew I had to make time to try her bold and daring recipe selection, Caramelized Onion, Sage, and Cheddar Muffins. This marked the first savory baked good chosen for the group, and provided the chance to attempt something novel and exciting in the kitchen- a challenge I’m always eager to embrace. And boy, am I glad I did. The muffins provided the inspiration for a special fall meal, complete with Roasted Acorn and Butternut Squash Soup, and evoked overwhelming accolades from my family of tasters. But with Hanaâ’s stamp of approval on the recipe, I’d expect nothing less.

Savory Muffins 1

Whether savory or sweet, ‘American-style’ muffins (those made from a batter with a chemical leavener- baking powder or baking soda- rather than a yeast dough like with English muffins) can be divided into two main categories: bread-like and cake-like. The distinguishing factors lie in the technique for mixing the batter as well as the sugar and fat content of the muffins. The bread-like variety typically utilize the “muffin method” of mixing, where the dry and wet ingredients are first blended separately, and then combined and stirred together just until incorporated. In addition, these muffins tend to have less sugar and fat (either melted butter or oil) in the recipe than their cake-like counterparts. The key to producing tender muffins made with this technique is to avoid over mixing. Mixing too much overdevelops the gluten in the flour, resulting in a tough muffin with tunnels and a compact texture. Resist the urge to continue stirring the batter, even if it’s still lumpy- only 10 to 15 strokes are necessary to moisten the dry ingredients, and it’s perfectly acceptable to have a few traces of flour remaining. The lumps in the batter will continue to blend as the muffins bake, and they will disappear after a short trip through the oven. Handling the batter as little as possible (even when scooping and distributing it in the pan), will yield muffins with ideal texture and a soft crumb. I kept this trick in mind while assembling my SMS savory muffins, and was very pleased with the overall consistency of the soft and springy interior.

Savory Muffins 2

And now to the mix-ins. The harmoniously flavorful, out-of-this-world delicious combination of mix-ins. Honestly, Hanaâ had me at “caramelized.” I don’t think there is any cooking method that more perfectly extracts the essence and inner sweetness of an ingredient than caramelization. Technically speaking, caramelization refers to the oxidation of sugar, and is a complex chemical process that is utilized in cooking to produce the characteristic nutty flavor and brown color of caramel. But practically speaking, it is the gateway to scrumptiousness! Whether it’s caramelized apples in my favorite banana bread or caramelized onions in these exceptional savory muffins, the star ingredient shines center stage after being transformed with some butter and a hot sauté pan. Because the Sweet Melissa Baking Book did not offer instructions on how to prepare the onions, I decided to follow the basic procedure I’ve used in past recipes. I sliced a mountain of Vidalia onions into thin half moons, preheated a large skillet on medium-low heat, and added two tablespoons of melted butter with just a bit of olive oil. After piling up the onions in the pan, I seasoned them with a generous pinch of salt and a little sugar. I prefer to go “low and slow” when caramelizing onions- with a little patience, the onions soften and gradually take on a deep golden brown color. It does take about an hour, but believe me, it is worth every minute.

Savory Muffins 3

I assembled the remaining ingredients in between occasional stirring, and by the time the onions were completed and cooled, I was all prepped and ready to go. The sage, fresh from my summer herb garden, was chopped, the sharp cheddar was shredded, and my extra special touch ingredient, roasted garlic, was minced to a paste, and whisked into the wet ingredients. (While the onions were cooking, I sliced the top off a head of garlic, drizzled on some olive oil, placed it in a foil packet and roasted it in a 400°F oven for an hour, until the cloves were slightly browned and softened). The idea for this bonus ingredient also came from the brilliant Hanaâ– the girl knows her flavors and it sounded too good to leave out! Since roasting really mellows the bite of fresh garlic, I ended up using about 4-6 cloves, and it complimented the other mix-ins flawlessly. No one flavor outshined another, and while you could certainly distinguish each individual ingredient, they all came together beautifully to produce a knock-your-socks off, one-of-a-kind batch of muffins. The only other change I made with the recipe was to check and toothpick test the muffins a few minutes earlier than the designated bake time. Mine were done at 27 minutes, so take care to keep an eye out towards the end of baking- the last thing you want after all that hard work is dry, heavy muffins because of over baking.

Savory Muffins 4

After brainstorming some ideas to design a dinner menu featuring the savory muffins, I settled on making a Roasted Acorn and Butternut Squash soup. It was reminiscent of my very favorite fall recipe, a Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette (I’ll definitely be making this in the upcoming weeks, and will be sure to share it with you!) I discovered the soup recipe on one of the best cooking blogs on the web, Smitten Kitchen, and subsequently found it on Epicurious. I made a few slight adaptations, including roasting the squash before adding it to the soup. Instead of struggling with a rock hard unpeeled acorn squash and a sharp knife, I simplified the process by cutting it in half (or should I say, calling on my dad’s brute strength to divide it in two), drizzled it with some olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Though I was lucky to find my butternut squash already peeled, I figured I might as well roast that too at the same time. After about 45 minutes in a 400°F oven (tossing halfway through) the butternut squash was tender and slightly browned around the edges. The acorn squash needed a few minutes more, so I turned it over cut side down, and let it go a while longer. By the time it emerged from the oven, I was able to remove the peel and chop it into cubes very easily. I also used the remaining half head of roasted garlic left over from the muffins to replace the raw chopped garlic called for in the recipe. But no matter how you play with the recipe, it is a FABULOUS fall soup, and was a match made in heaven with the savory muffins.

Savory Muffins 5

In the end, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results, and this dreamy fall dinner was the perfect panacea for a blustery, windy, rainy Sunday night here in Boston. My parents raved over both components, remarking that the meal was restaurant worthy and one of my best ever. While I appreciate the positive feedback, the real compliment belongs to Hanaâ– I probably never would have attempted this recipe without a little push… I guess it’s just one more thing I have to thank her for. She is a constant source of inspiration and creative ideas- even dressing up her muffins with the crumb topping from her tuna casserole- super clever, right? This week I implore you- take a minute and check out her fantastic site, Hanaâ’s Kitchen, get your hands on this must-try recipe, break out the mixing bowls, and bake a batch of your own! You won’t be disappointed!

Savory Muffins 6

Thank you Hanaâ, for doing a great job as SMS host this week. You are an incredible baker, but more importantly, an even better friend. I appreciate your support and encouragement more than you’ll ever know.

Joy Heart 2

SMS: Fresh Peach Muffins

Fresh Peach Muffins 2

*Just wanted to apologize that this post is a little late- as some of you know, I’ve been under the weather for the past few weeks, and unfortunately, I really wasn’t feeling well yesterday. I hope you understand!*

You may have guessed from my SMS selection last week, that I have a fondness for quick breads. My only criticism is that while they may be “quick” to prepare, the long bake time of an hour or more often means waiting (rather impatiently, I must admit) to sit down with a slice of delicious loaf. But the option to make individual serving sizes in the form of muffins can save the day when you’re craving a sweet breakfast treat that can be on the table in less than half the time! Whether you’re a self proclaimed muffin top lover like myself, preferring to indulge in the soft textured, yet slightly crispy and caramelized exterior of the mushroomed muffin dome, or you favor the rougher, tight crumb of the bottom portion, often dubbed the “muffin stump,” most would agree that a muffin is the ideal breakfast pastry. With endless combinations of possible mix-ins and featured ingredients, the modern American muffin has a variation to please every palate, from blueberry to chocolate chip, pumpkin to date nut, lemon poppyseed to banana crumb, and bran to corn- there are plenty of styles to choose from and it can be difficult narrowing down a favorite. As summer comes to a close, I’m tempted to incorporate the bounty of readily-available ripe, juicy fruits in my baked goods as often as possible while they are still in season. Thanks to JoVonn of The Givens Chronicles, this week’s SMS recipe, Fresh Peach Muffins, offered the perfect opportunity to try a muffin flavor I’ve never made before, and highlight the bright luscious stone-fruit one last time before Fall sets in.

Fresh Peach Muffins 4

The word “muffin” was possibly derived from the Old French moufflet, which referred to “soft bread,” or the German muffen, meaning “small cake.” The earliest versions tended to be less sweet and much less varied in ingredients than their contemporary form. Pulled together quickly and easily, muffins were usually served as a breakfast food, but because they also grew stale rapidly, they were not a highly marketable baked good and remained mostly in home kitchens until the mid-20th century. Fannie Merritt Farmer included 15 recipes for muffins in her Boston Cooking-School Cook Book of 1896, however most were limited to a few different grains and some readily available additives like raisins, apples, berries, and nuts. So how did the modestly simple mini cake transform into the elaborate super-sized version we’re accustomed to today?

Fresh Peach Muffins 5

The 1950’s saw the introduction of muffin mixes to the market, but it was a combination of circumstances in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s that resulted in major changes to the breakfast baked good. The decline in home-baking, the health food movement, the rise of the specialty food shop, and the gourmet coffee trend all contributed to the evolution of the modern day muffin. “Healthful” muffin recipes using whole grains, yogurt and various vegetables became prolific, but in order for these muffins to maintain any shelf-life without artificial preservatives, both the sugar and fat content needed to be increased, making these treats more comparable to their cupcake counterparts. (The higher sugar and fat content act as tenderizers, and minimize gluten development, producing a richer cake-like muffin with a softer crumb.) With the emergence of gourmet coffee houses, there was a need for gourmet snacks to serve as accompaniments, and fancier recipes were created which departed from the humble originals. Thanks to the marketing trend toward larger portion sizes, muffins ballooned to the soft-ball size jumbos now abundantly available, and new pans were created for the home cook to replicate the extra large versions lining every coffee shop pastry case.

Fresh Peach Muffins 9

What makes Melissa Murphy’s basic sweet muffin recipe special is its flexibility- it can be dressed up with the addition of different citrus zests, spices, and fruits to suit your taste or accommodate ingredients on hand. In this variation, peaches play a starring role with accents of orange zest and cinnamon. While the flavors are subtle and mellow, they coordinate and complement each other nicely. These muffins are nicely moist, with a large open crumb. While hefty and substantial, they are surprisingly fluffy, though they lack a certain softness and delicacy I prefer in my quick breads. My only modifications to the recipe were to add a teaspoon of vanilla and a heaping cup of peaches to the batter- I think they could use even more fruit, as the peach to muffin ratio needs improvement. I also added sanding sugar to the tops, giving the muffins a certain sparkle and sweet crunch to every bite. Though this will not replace my favorite muffin recipe, it is a solid addition to my baking repertoire because of its adaptability.

Fresh Peach Muffins 7

I have to send out a double thank you to JoVonn of The Givens Chronicles– first, for this week’s SMS pick- please visit her lovely site to find the recipe, and check out the multitudes of muffins whipped up by the other bakers on our blogroll! Second, I’m so excited to have JoVonn join me for this round of Operation Baking GALS as a member of Team Oven Loving for the Recovering. It is so kind of her to dedicate time and energy as a volunteer baker, and I know the soldiers will truly appreciate her contribution. If you’re interested in getting involved, there’s still time to sign up- please don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information! 🙂

Joy Heart 2