Sweet Potato Corn Muffins

IMG_2351 edit 2

IMG_2383 edit

There are a thousand ways to make healthy muffins, but I like them best when they are soft and squidgy, low in fat, and a little bit sweet. The great thing about these particular muffins is that the bulk of them is made from vegetables commonly found in desserts. Sweet potato puree, stoneground cornmeal and whole wheat pastry flour compose the bulk of the batter, while nut milk and natural yogurt add plenty of moisture. I also have a soft spot for this recipe because I can make it 100% organic without breaking the bank or sacrificing flavour, and the potato puree results in a pleasantly tender texture similar to that of banana bread. Although totally addictive on their own, the muffins are made even better with fun add-ins, like a cup of toasted chopped pecans or a mixed and matched cup of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. One batch will have you looking forward to breakfast all through the work week.

Sweet Potato Corn Muffins

Inspired by: Minimalist Baker, ‘Sweet Potato Almond Butter Muffins’

Ingredients:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (130g)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (100g)
1/3 cup stoneground cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup natural yogurt
3/4 cup almond milk
1 egg
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sweet potato puree (from 9 oz cubed sweet potato)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons oil of choice
1/3 cup raw granulated sugar of choice

Optional Add-Ins:

Choose one of the following:

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
  • 3/4 cup dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, or chopped dried apple
  • 3/4 cup dried coconut flakes
  • 1 cup mixed nuts, seeds and dried fruit

Method: 

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush the muffin moulds with a small amount of oil.

In a large bowl, whisk to combine and aerate the all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. If using add-ins, toss them in with the dry ingredients.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the potato puree, yogurt, vanilla extract, oil, and sugar until the ingredients are well combined. If you are using a large granulated raw sweetener, allow the sugar to dissolve for a few minutes while occasionally whisking the mixture.

Whisk in the egg until it is well combined. Gradually add the almond milk while whisking until the mixture is smooth.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and use a spatula to fold everything together just until no streaks of flour remain.

Fill the muffin cups almost to the top for large domed muffins (the batter will fill approximately 11 of the muffin moulds). Bake immediately in the preheated oven for 20-23  minutes or until the tops spring back to the touch. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

The muffins will keep for 3-4 days in a sealed container at room temperature.

 

 

Apple-Cranberry Pie

apple cranberry blog

Apples rank high among the many ingredients that I have no excuse for purchasing anywhere but locally, and lucky for me sometimes I don’t even have to do that. This versatile fruit is much like rhubarb and zucchini around here, in the sense that during one week of the year everyone suddenly encounters an overabundance of crop. If that sounds like a complaint than I apologize, because what I really want to do is bust out the bobbing barrels and throw an apple harvest party. Before you laugh, remember that we have entire festivals dedicated to both maple syrup and pumpkins.

Certainly worth celebrating is the fact that Ontario is home to some of the best baking apples in the world, including the much coveted and super crispy Northern Spy. The key characteristic one is looking for when choosing apples for pies and other desserts, is a flesh that holds its shape well after baking. Some apples will rapidly disintegrate when heat is applied, which is especially problematic if you like to partially cook the fruit or prepare the filling beforehand. A quick internet search will turn up which varieties grown in your area are the best for baking, and which are best left for making applesauce. In this particular pie I used a 3lb bag of local McIntosh, but when options are available consider using a combination of apples and playing with different flavours.

For the crust, use your favourite recipe for all-butter pie pastry or try this one from Four and Twenty Blackbirds via Food52. Their formula and method is genius, and certainly deserves a place in a serious pie maker’s repertoire.

Apple-Cranberry Pie
Adapted from Four and Twenty Black Birds via Food52
And Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients:

2 discs prepared pie pastry*

3 lb (whole) tart baking apples
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 ground all-spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon tapioca starch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 oz fresh (or frozen) cranberries
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

*For complex designs or heavy lattice patterns, part of an additional disc of pastry may be required.

Method:

Prepare the pastry as directed. Roll one disc of pastry into a 12 inch circle, and fit it into a 9 inch pie plate. Return the shell to the fridge to chill while you make the filling. Roll out the second disc of pastry as thinly as possible without stretching or tearing the dough. Using a pastry wheel, pizza cutter, or scalpel, cut the pastry into long strips for a lattice. Alternatively, use cookie cutters to stamp out pieces for a unique design. Refrigerate the prepared pieces of top pastry.

In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar with the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, all-spice, salt, and tapioca starch. Peel, core, and slice the apples into 1/4 inch thick wedges. In a Dutch oven or a large non-stick pan, gently toss the apple slices with the sugar mixture until they are evenly coated. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until the apples begin to tenderize. Remove from the heat and gently stir in the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Let the filling cool to room temperature.

To prepare the cranberries, combine with the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the orange juice in a medium saucepan. If using frozen cranberries, cover the pot and heat on low, stirring occasionally, until the berries have thawed. For fresh cranberries, cook uncovered over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until some of the berries begin to break down and the natural pectin has thickened the liquid. Remove from the heat and let cool completely to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400°F

Using a rubber spatula, gently combine the cooled apple and cranberry mixtures. Scrape the filling into the chilled pie shell, leaving only enough room to fold over and crimp the pastry (if you have some filling leftover that is fine). Arrange the top pastry over the fruit, seal the edges if necessary, and crimp as desired.

Bake in the preheated oven for 55-65 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is a rich golden brown. Rotate the pie halfway through baking to ensure even colouring, and use a pie shield to prevent the edges from overbrowning if necessary.

Let cool completely before serving.

Matcha Sugar Cookies

Two months before Christmas, and already all I am thinking is cookies, cookies, cookies. After last year’s “soft cookie” mishap (hint: do not gift wrap crispy cookies in the same container as moist ones, unless you want a sad limp box of biscuits), I’ve decided to stick to a sampling of everybody’s favourite: shortbreads. Excited to use my newly arrived organic matcha, I put together a test a batch using two tablespoons of the vibrant green tea powder. As soon as the dough came together, I realised from the colour, texture and smell that my key ingredient was incredibly potent. I learned that if you are working with a high quality tea, you can and should use a fraction of what the recipe calls for. The second lesson was that matcha powder needs sugar the same way cocoa powder does, so I switched to a basic sugar cookie recipe and found success. I added half a tablespoon of matcha to the recipe, scrapped in a beautifully plump organic vanilla bean, and pressed the cut shapes into granulated sugar to add extra sweetness and some sparkle. In the end I had a mildly flavoured and pleasantly sweet little cookie that would be lovely to share with a tea-drinking friend.

And so two months of cookies kicks off not with a shortbread, but with a simple cut-out. I did however have time to sneak in a test batch of dark chocolate shortbread, and they were so naughty I plan on seeing how they go over at my sister’s shop this week. I will try to get some good shots of the ladies mid munching, these bittersweet cookies are an absolutely blissful experience.

matcha powder

matcha flower