Tag Archives: brunch

carrot cake bran muffins

kitchen seems sunnier

Okay, so it is really odd, my culinary response to the Easter season. I always want to make things with carrots. Reading this hilarious essay by Nicholas Day on Food52 recently probably didn’t help. For one thing, it reminded me of the 3-pound grocery store bag of unglamorous, bizarrely fluorescent carrots in the bottom of my crisper. (By the way, if you’re looking for pantry-savvy dinner recipes, using carrots, you should read this piece.) There is just some switch in my mind that goes, Easter, Easter bunny, carrots. I mean, eventually I come around to the ham, the coconut cake (mandatory), coconut meringue pie,  hot cross buns, and the egg dishes. And I have even adopted a love of the seriously weird Easter pie tradition here in New Haven, including rice and wheat. But it’s cold, still, and I like breaking open my baked goods and seeing a little spark of color. Orange specks! Yes?

why is this so fluorescent

And this recipe, it is pretty good. It’s like a kind of carrot coffee cake (there is sour cream, after all) crossed with a bran muffin. My basic bran muffin is a riff on the one in the Cheese Board Collective Works—if you don’t own this cookbook, and you have even the teensiest obsession with muffins and scones, go out and get a copy now. It is virtuous, but delicious. None of the punishing texture that can sometimes be associated with bran muffins. Not too sweet, and just perfectly spicy. The ingredient list is long, but if you keep bran and germ in the house, the rest of the list is just staples, and much of it is an assortment of spices. If you have a favorite crumb or streusel topping, it might be good on here. I often find myself eating my morning muffin on the run, so I left those off. Crumbs tend to get stuck all over me when I walk and eat, and the result is not good for my sartorial presence in the office. What is the best accompaniment to these muffins? A slab of cream cheese, right down the middle. Reminiscent of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, but good for breakfast.

orange flecks

Bonus: these muffins freeze really well. You can pull one out of the freezer and toss it in the microwave for a few seconds to thaw it. The best part? When the days warm up, you can have a nice muffin for breakfast without turning on the oven. I am counting the days until this is a legitimate worry, my friends. Enjoy your spring festivals, everyone!

Carrot cake bran muffins

Adapted wildly from Cheese Board Collective Works

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup rye or whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup wheat bran
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated carrot, packed (about 3 to 4 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, if you like

1. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin thoroughly, or line muffin tins with paper or foil liners. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, molasses, water, raisins and vanilla. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, brown sugar, soda, salt, bran, wheat germ, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg.

3. Pour egg mixture into the center of flour mixture and stir just until combined. Add carrot and nuts, if using, and mix well, just until dry mixture is thoroughly incorporated into batter. Let batter rest for 15 minutes, so the moisture can distribute.

4. Spoon batter evenly into prepared tin. Bake at 375 F for 5 minutes and then reduce temperature to 350 F. Bake 25 more minutes. Test to ensure muffins are done by inserting a toothpick near the center. The toothpick should emerge batter-free. Cool in tins for 5 minutes, and then carefully remove to a cooling rack. Serve warm or room temperature with butter, or a smear of cream cheese.

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multigrain banana (smoothie) pancakes


On the rare occasions when Ty goes away on a trip, his sister has asked me, “so, what is your secret single behavior?”

I seriously, seriously wish I was the sort of person who might have a saucy answer to that question.

But: know thyself, woman. My “secret single behavior” involves trying to remember to cook instead of reverting to eating only giant bowls of popcorn at mealtimes. (I’m sure upon my arrival in April the Italian authorities will arrest me for having consumed a glass of phenomenal nero d’Avola with a bowl of popcorn while watching an episode of “Bones.”) It involves rocking out to Brandi Carlisle at top volume (sorry neighbors) while trimming Brussels sprouts. (You should hear me on some of those key changes mid-song. Heart-stopping, I tell you.) It means that I use the blender in the morning. (Ty doesn’t like loud noises right after waking up.) It involves, I will not lie, watching BBC productions of Bleak House, Jane Eyre, or Persuasion, and, if I’m really given time to deteriorate, Emma. It involves cooking all of the very few foods that Ty won’t eat.

so lonely

Ty really doesn’t like to have pancakes on weekend mornings—he always wants something very savory, like eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, grits, and what have you. I love these things, too! But sometimes a girl just wants to get her pancake on. The other thing he hates in the morning is noise, so I generally avoid using the blender when he’s around. I started to make a smoothie the other morning, because when I woke up I found myself face-to-face with that most common of kitchen gremlins: the single, almost-too-ripe banana. Without thinking, I threw that banana in the blender. But then I realized that I really just wanted a nice stack of pancakes. The following recipe was born. You can use a combination of flours, and I would always make at least one part of the flour all-purpose, just to get a light and fluffy pancake. And I always, always, use part cornmeal in my cakes—it gives you a nice crispy exterior, which I love. I had rye on hand, and you could use that or whole-wheat pastry flour, or oat flour, or anything else you had on hand.

foamy batter

With any pancake recipe relying on chemical leaveners (baking soda or baking powder) and buttermilk or yogurt—especially ones with whole-grain flours—you should let your batter rest for a few moments before you start to cook the pancakes. The acidic dairy and the baking soda interact and create millions of little air pockets in the batter. These are what lend your pancakes lightness. Typically I create time for resting by mixing the batter and then letting it rest while I get out my griddle, spray or butter it, and heat it up nice and hot. By then, 10 minutes have passed, and when you scoop into that batter to start cooking, you have a lovely, light, foamy, loamy pancake mixture. The mixture will be so airy that you may have a hard time dolloping it onto the griddle in circles. Just do the best you can—and don’t force it by manipulating or mashing it to make a circle—and you will be rewarded with the lightest pancakes you’ve ever had.

The recipe below makes just enough pancakes for two people. You can multiply it out to make enough for up to eight people. I just hope they’re eight people who don’t mind the noise of a blender in the morning.

last bite

Multigrain banana (smoothie) pancakes

This recipe makes enough for 2 people, multiple as necessary to feed more hungry folks

  • 3/4 cup flour (I use all-purpose, rye, cornmeal)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 c buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of nutmeg

1. Sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda in a large bowl. Toss in the kosher salt and set aside.

2. Place all remaining ingredients in the pitcher of your blender. Blend until a smooth liquid forms. Pour liquid into dry ingredients and mix lightly, until completely smooth. Set aside for about 10 minutes to lighten while you prepare the griddle.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle wiped with vegetable oil over medium-high heat, until very hot, but not smoking. Reduce heat to medium. Scoop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto griddle. Allow pancakes to cook fully on first side (take a tiny peek using your spatula to lift up the edge) before gently flipping to cook the second side. If the pancake is turning too dark before it is cooked in the center, reduce the heat under the pan.

4. Plate pancakes on warm plates and serve with orange slices and maple syrup.

nice and brown


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