|A sprinkling with sparkling sugar adds a nice crunch|
A hopefully happier New Year (no broken foot, no deer in the car, and no campaign ads!) has begun - and with it a brand new Avid Baker's Challenge. In 2013 we will throw out combined baking efforts at King Arthur recipes, published on their website.
As a professional bread baker, I use a lot of King Arthur Flours, but in this recipe were some unknown ingredients that made me wonder whether I should spend the extra money, or make do with substitutes.
Our January challenge, Panettone Muffins, requires "Fiori di Sicilia" - Flowers of Sicily, a citrus vanilla essence that is, according to King Arthur, traditionally used to flavor panettone.
After an inner struggle with my thrifty super ego I ordered it - who am I to spurn a time honored Italian tradition! (It better be good - for that price!)
The Cake Enhancer, listed as an optional ingredient, was another matter - no way I would use an additive that wasn't a matter of life or death. And besides - enhancers are for wimps! I dare any cake or bread not to give its best when I bake it.
|Apricots, pineapples, prunes, cherries and raisins soaking in a rum-orange mix|
For the dried fruit mixture I chose mostly tangy fruits, like pineapple, prunes, tart cherries, apricots and golden raisins. I didn't have quite enough rum to soak them, so I topped it off with orange juice, using the microwave for a flash soaking.
|Adding dry ingredients alternating with milk to the butter mixture|
Preparing the batter was fast and easy. I changed two things: we don't like it too sweet, so I reduced the sugar. And I exchanged some of the white flour with whole wheat pastry (my favorite flavor enhancer - and anti-staling agent.)
|Folding in the soaked fruit|
The batter was sufficient to fill the twelve muffin cups almost to the top. A sprinkling of coarse sparking sugar added a nice crunchy topping.
|Fresh from the oven|
The best of all husbands could hardly wait until the muffins were out of the pan, no wonder, they looked really nice and smelled so good. The rum-orange soaked fruit pieces could have been a little more (I was cautious and used only the smaller amount). The muffins had a very delicate citrus flavor from the 1/4 teaspoon of Fiori di Sicilia.
A day later, the muffins tasted even better. And we noticed that they were moister - overnight the liquid from the fruit had permeated the crumb. There was no noticeable alcohol taste, next time I would be probably bolder and make an all-rum soaker.
Here is King Arthur's Panettone Muffin recipe - you can switch between volume, ounces, and metric measures. A very handy tool!
- Use the full 9 ounces/255 g of fruits.
- Reduce the sugar by a quarter or a third - the fruit and sugar topping are sweet, too.
- Exchange a quarter of the all-purpose with whole wheat pastry or white whole wheat flour.
- Don't wait for the muffin tops to get a golden color on top - they might get over-baked and dry.
- DO WAIT a day before eating them, your muffin will be more flavorful and moister.
|Like their big cousin, the Pannetone Muffins taste better after resting for a day|