Jam Muffins

photograph of muffins

I have so much on my mind, so many balls in the air, that muffin recipes seem positively silly at the moment. But sometimes baking is just the thing you need to halt chaos momentarily. My chaos is all good, mind you. It is back to school time. I’m getting to know teachers, helping decorate lockers, getting routines sorted out, and generally having my mind blown away by how serious life can be in the 3rd and 5th grade now. There are so many advantages to growing up in this day and age…so many opportunities and such incredible technology…such possibility. But there is a negative balancing dose of anxiety, pressure, yuck, and too much grown up responsibility and expectations for such young people. And I’m not really getting into the content of the academics involved, though that is stunning too.

In many ways I prefer the slower pace of my youth. Or rather, while the fast pace of childhood was the same, back then the background, the context of my childhood, wasn’t moving so quickly and changing so rapidly as it does now. The earth was firm underfoot. Now they fly. Some days I miss my World Book Encyclopedias and a phone that was attached to the wall with a curly cord. This is compounded by a huge computer change in my office and the tectonic ramifications of switching computers…no matter how simple companies may imply that it is. And, I’m combating my first world, spoiled-rotten angst with muffins.

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Bake Sale Chocolate Cupcakes

Allow me to explain how these were born.

October is school carnival time. This means cake walks and bake sales. Moms and dads are put into motion all over the city to procure baked goods, homemade and store bought. Every year, I have a fairly cynical moment when I have purchased 30 dollars worth of ingredients and special boxes and I am about to put in a minimum of 3 hours of baking. Here is what my brain says: “Are we really going to spend 3 hours of our life and $30 to make perfect little confections from which some little kid is going to take one bite and then leave the rest on the bleachers as they run back into the action, because their best buds just got to the super gorilla bounce house?” As you have probably determined, half of the fun of baking is warming the hearts of the people for whom you bake. The average cake walk doesn’t give that feeling to me. Yet, I have a really hard time buying baked goods for cake walks. It just kills me. It makes me feel like a fraud. I know I probably need to deal with that in therapy.

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Fresh Peach and Honey Muffins

photo of basket of peach and honey muffinsBubba brought a big bag of peaches to me this week. I decided to make muffins.

This recipe makes one dozen muffins. The batter is thick like wet bread dough. I found an ice cream scooper to be the perfect tool for measuring out batter into the muffin tin.

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Lemonade Cupcakes

I like lemon cupcakes. But they are usually more like vanilla cupcakes with a hint of lemon. I wanted a LEMONY cupcake. I offer you this original recipe in which I jam the poor little cakes with lemon zest, lemon juice and lemonade concentrate for an unmistakable lemon punch in the kisser. The icing is similarly lemony. Try to say that five times in a row…similarly lemony, similarly lemony…anyway, this is for lemon lovers. If you like it a little less cheek puckering, you could back up on the lemon juice a little. But I wanted it to be forceful, yet sweet. I think I achieved a good little cake. Let me know what you think.

Note: If you don’t deal with lemons a lot, the zest is only the very top layer of the skin of the lemon, the yellow part, not the white part underneath which is bitter. So as you grate, be careful not to go too deep. If you do not yet own one, may I suggest you treat yourself to a Microplane grater. Initially a garden variety woodworking tool, they have been applied well to cooking. I use those tools for everything from zesting lemons and oranges to mincing ginger and garlic to shredding the gentlest little ribbons of parmesan cheese. I have three of them. This recipe makes a dozen cupcakes. I have not tried to multiply this recipe. If you make a big batch, and a mere doubling or tripling works, I’d love to know that, but I can’t guarantee that will work. Baking chemistry is a funny thing, and I just haven’t toyed with a bigger batch yet. A dozen is the right number for a family pig out, but not a class party. I need 36 cupcakes in my kitchen like I need a hole in my head. I don’t like seeing baked goods go to waste. So I eat them. Thus, a recipe for a dozen summertime treats is below.

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