It is the first week in August in CT, and we are having what New Englanders consider a heat wave. Try Charlottesville, VA in August to know what a heat wave is, people. I lived there for 20 years, and in August, the road shimmers with heat,children refuse to go outside unless directly into a swimming pool, and everyone slows down like characters in a Tennessee williams play. I don’t recall wanting to eat much more than watermelon and ice cream during the dog days of August.
Here in CT., late July and early August are beautiful and I do feel like cooking; however, after a horrible visit to my dentist, I am confined to eating soup and muffins. So today I am making zucchini muffins. These extra big, moist, delicate muffins are loaded with freshly grated zucchini I bought at a local farm stand, flavored with freshly churned butter from Maine and infused with a mixture of cinnamon, allspice and grated nutmeg. They turned out big, fluffy, moist and delicious – four adjectives I rarely get to apply to a muffin. I did try out a secret method which I am happy to share with all of you because my muffin tops have never before been so over the top (lol) in size.
I wanted to take my muffins down to the beach, but this weekend my beach is turned into a hippie wonderland called the Gathering of the Vibes. This retro hippy, rock and roll concert goes on for four days and 20,000 people show up to celebrate. In fact, it happens right outside the University of Bridgeport’s campus (where I teach) and we faculty are encouraged to stay away until this wild event is over. It is fun to watch from afar – family’s camping all over Seaside Park in cute bright colored tents, throngs of people dressed in hippie skirts or Rock and roll T-shirts flashing wrists loaded with beaded braclets, bands warming up or screaming out their “vibes”, barbecue grills fired up on the big lawns with everything from ribs to vegan.
Nevertheless, I am taking my muffins instead to the Freedom Trail in Trumbull, far away from the Vibes, to enjoy them on a shady bench with my friend Bernadette. I plan to freeze the rest because muffins always freeze well. After I have frozen them on a rack covered cookie sheet in my freezer,I place them in a heavy plastic bag with a plastic slider and keep them in the freezer for several months.
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of white whole wheat flour (I use Trader Joe’s)
2 tsps of baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup of white sugar
1/3 cup of brown sugar
3 cups of grated zucchini
2/3 cup of butter, melted
A 12 cup muffin tin and 12 paper muffin cup liners
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a large bowl place the 2 cups all purpose flour , one cup white whole wheat flour, the two teaspoons of baking soda, the salt and all the spices. Whisk the dry ingredients together until they are well mixed. Set aside.
Melt the 2/3 cup butter in a small saucepan on medium heat and then set aside to cool.
Carefully wash, dry and then grate a medium zucchini using the large holes of a box grater. Measure out about 3 cups of grated zucchini into a small bowl. Set aside. Measure out the white and brown sugar and set aside.
In another large bowl, crack the two eggs and beat them slightly with a whisk. Add the white sugar and brown sugar to the eggs and whisk the sugar into the egg mixture. With a wooden spoon, stir in the grated zucchini and melted butter into the egg, sugar mixture. These are the wet ingredients.
Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients using a big wooden spoon or spatula. Scrape down the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula as you continue to add the dry ingredients, but do all this as quickly as you can – like no more than 25 big stirs around the bowl should do it. Too much stirring of muffin batter can result in overmixed batter and too dense crumb inside the muffin. We are striving for light and fluffy crumb inside the muffin.
Bring over the muffin tin lined with paper cup liners. Using an ice cream scoop, place one nice sized scoop of batter into each paper cup liner making sure the batter comes up to the top of each liner.
When all the batter has been scooped into the liners place the muffin pan on a counter to rest and set your timer for five to eight minutes. Letting the batter sit for these minutes results in a higher crown on the tops of the muffins. I tried this secret and it worked. These are the highest, fluffiest muffins ever.
Bake the muffins for 25 to 30 minutes. After 25 minutes I tested my muffins with a long wooden pick and it came out clean, but was very faintly moist at the bottom of the pick. I took them out because I hate overbaked dry muffins. I was right to take them out. The muffins were just right – moist and fluffy with a crusty, golden-brown, risen crown on top. Gorgeous.
Remove the muffin pan from the oven and place on a rack to cool for five minutes. Then remove the muffins from the muffin pan and place them on a rack to finish cooling. Serve them now or freeze them on a rack in the freezer for 30 minutes. Then place in a zip locked plastic bag where they should keep well for two months.
Serve them with more freshly churned butter from Maine (I found Kate’s Butter. I love it and this isn’t even an ad) and seedless raspberry jam. I adore Trappist’s seedless raspberry (Do Monk’s advertise?), and when it is not on my store shelf I am very annoyed.
Try these muffins and see that zucchini is a fabulous addition to muffin batter making muffins that are moist and delicious.