Posts Tagged 'whole wheat pastry flour'

Macaroon Muffins

Coconut flour is trickier to work with than I anticipated my friends…

Despite the time lapse between posts, I can assure you that I have not been totally out of the kitchen over the past weeks.  No, I haven’t been in there as much as usual – who can blame me with work piled up to my head and these cute little distractions running around? – but baking attempts have indeed been made!

I tried a couple times to make another all coconut flour treat – as I enthusiastically stated I would.  After such delicious success with my Mini Chocolate Cupcakes, I thought it would be easy peasy.  Hmmm…not so much.  First up was my own attempt at a banana-cocoa-coconut muffin, using banana as an egg replacer.  FAIL.  Too crumbly!  No rise!  Next I tried to play it safe and follow an already tested recipe.  FAIL numero dos.  Too eggy!  Not enough flavor!

Sigh…

Instead of continuing my seemingly futile experiments and denying you all a new recipe even longer, I decided to temporarily put my all-coconut-flour-treat dream on hold and bake up something sure to work – still using coconut flour of course!

So today we have Macaroon Muffins!  What else would you call a goodie made from coconut flour, coconut milk AND shredded coconut?  Yum.

Here’s the recipe:

1 egg

1/2 cup light coconut milk

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together egg, coconut milk, applesauce, vanilla extract and maple syrup until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix whole wheat pastry flour, coconut flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and shredded coconut. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just blended. Spoon into prepared pans (top with extra shredded coconut if you want to have some fun!) and bake for 16-18 minutes. Makes 8 muffins.

These muffins are scrumptious!  Thank goodness, right?! They are packed with coconut flavor thanks to copious use of coconut-y ingredients and pretty light too from using “light” coconut milk and applesauce instead of oil.  And I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: maple syrup makes the BEST sweetener.  If you like coconut, I’m pretty sure you’d be a fan of these.

What’s your favorite coconut recipe?

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Gingerbread

Merry Christmas and happy holidays…

Santa Claus is coming to town…

Let it snow, let is snow, let it snow…

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Etc, etc, etc…

I HEART THE HOLIDAYS!

This really truly is my favorite time of year.  Something about the cheesy joyful Christmas music and festive decorations and anticipation in the air makes me warm and fuzzy and happy inside.  I am proudly a total sucker for it and feel all cozy everyday and everywhere I go.  Even the chilly weather is tolerable!  Ehh…sort of.  I don’t do well with cold.  Unless it’s snowing!  Sigh.  Contentment.

That said, the older I get, the more the season sneaks up on me.  It seems that Thanksgiving dinner dishes are barely washed when I blink and it’s Christmas.  All before I can even get a chance wear my favorite holiday sweater!

Well, this year, I said no more!  I made a vow to go immediately into holiday mode the second Thanksgiving weekend was over.  So my mini-Christmas tree quickly found its way out of the box under my bed and onto the dining table.  Little Santa and Mrs. Claus figurines stand by its side.  A scented candle is lit every night – smelling of cinnamon snap then spiced pear then Christmas cookie as the wick burns down.  Holiday tunes are loaded onto my iPod and played on the daily.  Both work and personal computer background images are now illustrations of Christmas trees.  My Google homepage displays the Winter Village theme – super cute btw! – right above a red and white Christmas countdown.  I even manually changed my Gmail colors to be red and green!

With all of these steps taken to be Miss Holiday Spirit 2009, all that was left to do was bake up a season-inspired treat.  So I decided to try my hand at Gingerbread!  I’ve always been curious about Gingerbread – because it is quite possibly the epitome of holiday baked goods – but have never actually eaten it.  I know, weird, right?  I guess I was always too busy filling up on peanut butter kiss cookies and Grandma’s pumpkin cake roll to bother looking its way.  It was about time.

Here’s my recipe for Gingerbread, adapted from this recipe:

1/2 cup Sucanat

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

3/4 cup molasses

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup brown rice flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Spray an 11×7-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix Sucanat, vegetable oil, egg and molasses until well combined.  In a separate bowl, mix whole wheat pastry flour, brown rice flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just blended.  Stir in hot water.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.

Now I know I don’t have anything to compare this to, but I thought the Gingerbread tasted delicious!  The spice combination worked wonderfully together and completely captured the flavor of the holidays.  And the brown rice flour gave the bread a bit of texture – sort of like cornbread!  I was a fan.

Is there a holiday treat you’ve always wanted to try, but never have?

Pumpkin Brownies

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I found myself with a whole lot of of pumpkin to use up the other day – remains from the giant-sized can I was forced to buy when my grocery store ran out of cans for normal-sized people.  What else is a girl to do but purchase enough squash for a small army when pumpkin pancakes are on the mind?  I promised myself I’d bake something with the leftovers.  And so here I am!

There’s obviously LOADS you can do with pumpkin, but I wanted to get creative.  Actually, what I really wanted was a brownie.  But I couldn’t forgo the pumpkin mountain in my fridge to fulfill my chocolate-y desires.  How utterly wasteful that would be.

Then it hit me. Pumpkin. Brownies. Half fudgy brownie.  Half dense, pumpkin-y delight.  I was so very excited about my highly original, super fun, and simply ingenious idea. Then I found out Martha Stewart had already done it.   Of course she had.

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Not to be outdone by the diva homemaker, I set out to put my own twist on the pumpkin brownie idea.  And twist it I did!  Along with performing my standard Sweet + Natural adaptations to Martha’s recipe – whole wheat pastry flour for all-purpose, Sucanat for sugar, etc. – I made a bunch of other changes to ensure I got exactly what I was looking for.  Added some extra spice to the pumpkin…used a bigger pan…but most importantly, eliminated the baking powder.  Martha’s brownie pics look too much like cake, right?  Now, I have nothing against cake.  Unless it’s trying to pose for a brownie.  In that case, believe you me, I will not be fooled.  I want fudge, not fluff.  No baking powder = lower rise = density-dense flavor-packed yumminess.  Yes.

Here’s my take on Pumpkin Brownies:

Base mixture:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cup Sucanat

4 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Chocolate mixture:

6 ounces grain sweetened chocolate chips

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Pumpkin mixture:

1 1/4 cup pumpkin

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon ginger

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Spray an 11×7-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.  For the base mixture, mix together whole wheat pastry flour and salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together Sucanat, eggs and vanilla until well-combined.  Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until blended.  Divide this mixture into two bowls.  For chocolate mixture, melt chocolate chips and oil in a bowl.  Stir into one half of the base mixture.  (Note: If batter feels dry, just steal some base mixture from the remaining half and add it in.  I found the chocolate batter to be drier than the pumpkin batter, so this is totally cool to do.  The pumpkin batter is very generous and will not hold it against you.)  For pumpkin mixture, combine pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger in a bowl.  Stir into other half of base mixture.  Spread chocolate batter evenly into prepared pan.  Top with pumpkin batter.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Makes 24 brownies.

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Success!  The no baking soda idea did the trick in making these Pumpkin Brownies brownies and not cakey, chocolate-and-pumpkin flavored squares.  They were indeed the fudgy, dense, pumpkin-y delights I set out to achieve.  They also just so happen to be orange and black – quite fitting for the upcoming Halloween holiday, wouldn’t you say?

What’s the most interesting brownie you’ve ever eaten?

P.S. After mentioning it in my last post, I’ve had a request to share my European vacation with you all. Now I know such a trip is totally unrelated to Sweet + Natural baking, but I’m highly tempted to oblige – mostly because I love reliving it! Would you guys be interested?

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Pumpkin Banana Oat Muffins

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Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii.

I’m back!  You’ll have to forgive me for the past couple months.  They were arguably the busiest of my entire life.  But I am baking once again!  Before we get into the details of my latest delicious creation, here’s a brief recap of recent events to give some context for my absence and perhaps entice understanding from my wonderfully patient readers:

  • Moved into my new apartment
  • Unpacked – umm…amidst the busyness, this took several weeks
  • Waited for cable / internet to be installed…twice – thanks for not showing up the first time Time Warner!
  • Travled to Rhode Island for a weekend to attend a wedding
  • Planned and conducted a major brainstorming workshop for clients at work
  • Cheered for the Cardinals at a Mets game – they’re in the playoffs now!
  • Celebrated a good friend’s birthday
  • Drove to CT and back for work meetings – times two
  • Vacationed in Europe with Dan for 10 days – an absolute DREAM!  If this were a travel blog, I could do a billion posts about that trip!
  • Worked 75+ hour weeks for a month straight, including through Labor Day weekend…
  • …while I was in Chicago visiting my sister – and having lunch with Jenn!
  • Traveled across the country for a week to watch market research focus groups
  • Played host to my parents while they were in NYC for a weekend
  • Researched and bought a new bike – wheeee!
  • Brunched with old friends from high school
  • Went to several doctor appointments
  • Plus a whole bunch of other very important stuff that I need to keep secret for now…shhh…

Whew!  A lot of work (sad…) but a lot of fun (happy!) in there too.  With all of the above going on, I haven’t had much time – or kitchen access! – to make my own meals, let alone do any awesome baking.  However, the dust seems to be settling – knock on wood – so I am keeping my fingers crossed that we can now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

To kick it off, let’s play a little game of Train of Thought, shall we?  I’ll show you how I decided to make what I’m sharing with you right now!

Today = October.  October = fall.  Fall =  pumpkin.  Pumpkin = great oatmeal mix-in.  Great oatmeal = pumpkin + mashed banana + flax + …  Ooh – I got it!

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These Pumpkin Banana Oat Muffins both welcome the new season and celebrate my re-found ability to make breakfast in the morning.  Pumpkin, banana, flax and maple syrup are the ingredients that make up my favorite bowl of oatmeal – and they’re now brought to you in muffin form!  Top these off with some peanut butter and you’re good to go.  Yum!

Here’s my recipe for Pumpkin Banana Oat Muffins, adapted from this recipe:

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

3/4 cup flax seed meal

2/3 cup maple syrup

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup oats

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375*F.  Spray muffin tins with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, mashed bananas, vanilla, eggs, flax seed meal and maple syrup until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix whole wheat pastry flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just blended.  Pour into prepared muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes.  Makes 18 muffins.

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I was quite pleased with these muffins!  Seems like the ole baking skills haven’t gotten too rusty from lack of use.  Dan liked them too – though his enthusiasm might have been more reflective of the fact that I was baking anything at all!  Moist, chewy and filled with healthy ingredients – they’re a perfect way to start the day.

Do you eat oatmeal?  What would your fall + oatmeal muffins look like?

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Peanut Butter + Jelly Bars

 

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A good PB+J was hands-down my favorite childhood sandwich.  What’s not to love? Creamy, sticky peanut butter.  Sweet, fruity jam.  We were a Jif and white bread family.  And I always went for the grape jelly.  Unless there was a jar of my grandma’s homemade strawberry preserves in the fridge.  Smucker’s just can’t compete with that.

Throughout elementary school, the only sandwich I’d allow my mom to pack in my lunchbox was a PB+J.  By the time noon rolled around, it had inevitably gotten squished inside its Ziploc bag due to rough contact with a juice box or an apple.  Wonder Bread’s not really known for their sturdy slices after all. But I LOVED the squishing.  It turned my sandwich into a PB+J pancake – flavors mashed together, jelly oozing out the bread pores.  I loved it so much that I began to do some deliberate sandwich squishing.  When my packed sandwich wasn’t squished enough.  When I ate at home with no opportunity for naturally-occurring lunchbox squishing.  I thought I was genius.  Still think so.

My peanut butter and jelly taste has matured over the years.  Though I still partake in squishing from time to time, my current PB+J of choice is made with whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter and honey.  Much healthier and deliciously satisfying.  I’m still a huge fan.  So when Hayley suggested I make some PB+J bars, I was all over it.  She directed me to Ina Garten’s recipe, I made it Sweet + Natural and here you go…

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My version of Peanut Butter + Jelly Bars:

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening

3/4 cup turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup natural peanut butter

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup 100% fruit strawberry jam

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Spray an 8 x 8-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream shortening and turbinado sugar for about 2 minutes.  Add vanilla extract, egg and peanut butter and blend until well-combined.  In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and blend until just combined.  Spread 2/3 of dough into prepared pan.  Top with jam.  Drop globs of remaining dough evenly over jam.  Bake for about 45 minutes.  Makes 16 bars.

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Why yes, that is gooey peanut butter and jelly goodness!

These bars rocked.  Perfectly peanut buttery and the jelly melted right into the cookie-ish layer.  No squishing necessary!  Be forewarned though…they may be made with natural and wholesome ingredients, but they are definitely a rich indulgence.  I’m already thinking about making a lighter version sometime in the near future…

Do you have a soft spot for PB+J? Have you ever made a peanut butter and jelly treat?

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Flour Face-Off: Muffins

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I’ve been playing scientist over here.  And by scientist, I mean 5th-grade-science-fair-tri-fold-display-board scientist.  Not the legit goggles and lab coat kind.  I may be good, but I’m not that good.

I’m a scientist because I ran my own little baking experiment.  Why yes, I am cool like that. You guys know I like to use different whole grain flours in my baked goods.  A little whole wheat pastry flour in this recipe, a little white whole wheat flour in that recipe.  But really what’s the diff, right?  Can you actually tell when one vs. another is baked up into a goodie?

I made it my mission to find out.

The Experiment:

Bake the exact same recipe using a variety of flours.

The Recipe:

Spiced Pumpkin Honey Muffins.  This is one of my go-to crowd-pleasing recipes, so I knew it would be a reliable base from which to judge the different flours.

The Contenders:


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From left to right: Whole Wheat Flour, White Whole Wheat Flour, Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, Spelt Flour, Brown Rice Flour.  First time spelt and brown rice flour baker here! Exciting stuff.

The Tasters:

Me, obvi.  And Dan, who was more than willing to eat multiple muffins in one sitting.  For the purpose of science, of course.

The Questions:

How would the final muffins compare to each other in taste, texture, appearance, etc.?  Which flour would come out on top?

The Hypothesis:

Umm…I skipped this part.  I told you – not the legit kind of scientist!

The Results:

Whole Wheat Flour


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Whole wheat flour was the first flour I ever used in my Spiced Pumpkin Honey Muffins.  I always bake them with white whole wheat flour now, so it was fun to go back to my roots!  These muffins were the chewiest and wheatiest of the bunch.  No surprise there.

White Whole Wheat Flour


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Like I said, white whole wheat flour is now my flour of choice for this recipe, so I’m very familiar with the muffins it produces.  But side-by-side with muffins made from other flours, did it stay the one and only?  Well, the WWWF muffins were pretty similar to the WWF muffins in texture, taste and appearance.  They were a teeny bit lighter in color and had a slightly less wheaty taste.  Yummy, of course, but I had yet to try…

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour


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My favorite!  WWPF made the softest muffins of all the flours.  They also got a little more rounded on top – check out the photo! – than any of the other muffins.  I liked that because it was aesthetically pleasing – like any good muffin should be.

Spelt Flour


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Yay for using SF for the first time!  But boo for these muffins being our least favorite.  I knew they’d be tricksters as soon as I started mixing the batter.  It was runnier than the wheat flour batters.  And instead of rising UP in the oven, it spread OUT over the muffin well edges – leaving us with flat muffin tops.  They also took longer to bake.  The final product?  Spongy – can you see from the pic? – and not really as flavorful as the other muffins.  Sort of like the spelt overwhelmed the other ingredients.  But I’m not giving up on SF just yet!  I have a feeling it would be better in cookies than things that need to be soft and fluffy.  Just needs to find its place to shine.

Brown Rice Flour


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The BRF muffins were Dan’s favorite.  At first, they seemed similar to the spelt muffins – runny batter, spread in the oven, flat tops, longer baking time.  But they ended up doing they’re own thing!  They were noticeably lighter in color than the rest of the muffins.  And they had a grainy, but soft, texture to them.  I kind of thought they stuck to the insides of my mouth a little, but Dan said I was making that up.  Also, BRF seems to have a very subtle flavor itself, so the pumpkin and honey tastes really came through.


For a good side-by-side comparison, take a look at the very first photo in this post.  Left to right: WWF, WWWF, WWPF, SF, BRF.

Conclusions:

In terms of muffins, I’m a WWPF fan.  Dan’s on team BRF.  SF doesn’t fly for either of us.  Obviously, there are some variables that could be played around with to influence the success of each flour.  Maybe some flours work better with liquid sweeteners – like the honey in this recipe – than others.  Or perhaps some would do better with more or less baking soda.  Lots of things to consider, but a girl can only do so much!

Anywho, that was fun!  Now I want to run my experiment on other baked goods.  I see a cookie test in my future!

Since I’m new to spelt and brown rice flour, anyone have any tips for baking with them?

Maple Almond Butter Cookies

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Raise your hand if you like almond butter!

I’m going to assume a unanimous arm lift just occurred out there in the blogosphere.  Because almond butter is sa-weeeet!  Peanut butter often takes the leading role in my life – can’t deny unending love.  But almond butter is truly one-of-a-kind.  It really has its own roasty, nutty thing going on.  And because it’s not an everyday eat for me, I do feel a little more special each time a spoonful meets my lips.

To celebrate the opening of a new AB jar – and my subsequently boosted self-image – I decided to make Maple Almond Butter Cookies!  Almond butter cookies were actually the brainchild of my sister – also known as Ashley’s Part-Time Muse, The Egg Separator or Amanda The Panda, if I’m feeling silly.  She’s a nut butta luva just like me.  I have taught her oh so well.

So Miss Muse e-mailed me last week with her genius idea.  A few days later, I stumbled upon the perfect recipe to adapt.  I knew it was meant to be.

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Here’s my recipe:

1/2 cup natural almond butter

1/2 cup maple syrup

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped almonds

Preheat the oven to 350*F. In a large bowl, combine natural almond butter, maple syrup, oil and vanilla extract until well blended.  In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, along with chopped almonds, and stir until just combined.  Let sit for five minutes.  Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls, flatten to about 1/3 of an inch and place onto cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Makes 18 cookies.

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These were goooood. Dan ate five a couple last night.  After his first bite, a long silence and many questions on use of ingredients, he declared them “Hands down the best thing you’ve ever baked.”  Now I personally wouldn’t go that far.  But I, too, am a fan.

The cookies are softly chewy with a perfect almond crunch.  And I love that maple syrup is the sweetener.  I’ve been meaning to use a liquid sweetener cookie recipe for awhile and this one fabulously fit the bill.  The only change I’d make for next time is using almond extract instead of vanilla – to add some extra almond-y oomph!

What’s your favorite nut butter treat?

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Contact

ashley.sweetandnatural@gmail.com

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