Friday, August 5, 2011

Breaking the spell(t)

Okay folks - let's talk about SUMMER. I LOVE SUMMER. For months and months of gray dreariness in Chicago winter and spring, I wait longingly for the turning of the season...for sundresses, for ice cream, for reading in the park, for wearing sunglasses...

However, in case you're unaware, this summer Chicago has experienced a nearly unbearable and prolonged explosion of heat and humidity, so much so that I can barely sleep, and our oven hasn't been used in at least 2 months. Maybe it's like this every year, and we simply forget about it while huddled in our thermal blankets in February. Either way, I love summer, and despite its sometimes icky-stickyness, I'll embrace it just to counteract the other seasons.

Anyway, the point of this soliloquy: since it's been so hot, as I mentioned, I haven't wanted to use my oven. But, when Bob's Red Mill products were on sale at Dominick's a while back,  I couldn't resist picking up some spelt flour. And if there's one thing I know about flour, it's that you use it...in baking. After some quick online searches, I found a great recipe, and it (along with the flour) has been sitting on my counter for weeks, waiting for a cool enough day to justify using the oven. 

Today was the day my non-baking spell(t) was broken - and I'm so glad it was.



Cranberry Orange Spelt Muffins
slightly adapted from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking - makes 6 muffins and 1 loaf, or 12 muffins

1 1/4 c dried cranberries
1/2 c orange juice
1 1/4 c whole spelt flour
1 c AP flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c milk
1/4 c honey
2 large eggs
1 T olive oil
2 T fresh orange zest
1/2 c chopped walnuts
Notes: 2 medium-sized oranges will give you enough juice and zest for this recipe. You'll notice this recipe calls for an overnight rest; this is to allow the spelt flour enough time to absorb moisture from the other ingredients so it's not too dense. If overnight isn't doable, a 2-hour rest should do the job.

Microwave the orange juice on high in a heatproof bowl for about 30 seconds, then add the cranberries and cover with plastic wrap (the juice won't totally cover the cranberries; that's okay). In a large bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, AP flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, honey, eggs, oil and orange zest. Add the wet ingredients to dry, mixing just until flour is incorporated. Fold in the walnuts and cranberries/orange juice until just combined. Cover bowl and refrigerate batter overnight.

Streusel
3 T unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c brown sugar
2 T rolled oats
1/4 c chopped walnuts
Mix together all the above ingredients in a small bowl until crumbly.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and remove the batter from the  refrigerator. Scoop batter into a lightly greased muffin tin (or loaf pan) until almost full, and spoon about 1 t of the streusel on top of each muffin (or spread some over the loaf).

Bake at 400 F until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean - for my tray of 6 muffins in my toaster oven, this took about 18 minutes. For the loaf pan which I did after the muffins, it was about 25 minutes - but I covered it with foil after 15 minutes.

2 comments:

  1. Chicago is definitely NOT like this every year! This is by far the worst since we've been here. Bring on fall!

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  2. These were delicious! I will have to investigate this spelt flour you speak of. :)

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