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Muffins

April 25, 1985|BETSY BALSLEY | Times Food Editor

High up on any list of trendy in foods right now is an old favorite . . . muffins. In a way, that isn't too surprising. Muffins may lack the glamour of chocolate truffles and cream liqueurs, but plain, honest fare that they are, they have often skirted the fringes but never quite gone out of style.

At this point in time, The Times probably gets more requests for sturdy bran muffins than any other type. However, fruit muffins such as banana and date muffins and vegetable-based muffins such as zucchini and carrot muffins also are high on the list of most requested recipes.

Muffins sudden resurgence in popularity may well be attributable to current mores that stress the importance of healthful eating. Sweet enough to satisfy all but the most intense sugar freak, muffins nowadays often are substituted for richer and more decadent desserts. But the search for tasty, high carbohydrate foods has also kept them on breakfast menus and earned them a respectable slot in the lunch boxes of those devoted to sensible dining. Even tea tables are beginning to boast tiny, bite-size muffins that are dainty enough to fit right in with a collection of cucumber and ribbon sandwiches.

Muffins are a true boon to the inattentive cook. They're one of those baked goods that, by and large, really work better when under mixed rather than over-mixed. In fact, the texture will be lighter and better if the batter is just mixed until there are no streaks of dry ingredients. It will probably still be somewhat lumpy, but any tiny pockets of flour left will blend in of their own accord during the cooking period. Over-beating tends to deflate whatever leavening is used, resulting in a heavy, uneven texture.

Muffins can easily be the answer to a menu that needs just one more small but perfect addition to round it out. Justifiably categorized as quick breads, they rarely require long preparation procedures or cooking times. And since they are basically intended to be served hot, they make nice last minute additions to any meal. Most not only freeze well, they also reheat well, either in a microwave or in a conventional oven. If you plan to reheat frozen muffins, wrap them loosely in foil and pop them, unthawed, into a conventional oven heated to 350 degrees for 10 to 20 minutes or until they are heated through.

For those moments when your sweet tooth needs assuaging, you'll find the following Orange-Date, Banana Minichip and Pineapple Praline Muffin recipes just the ticket. And for those times when a less-sweet snack is what you're looking for, try the Carrot 5-Spice, Garlic-Cream Cheese or Zucchini-Basil Muffins. Any or all of these and the other recipes that follow will whet your appetite for more muffins on the menu. And why not? After all, there's nothing like keeping up with the latest trends. Especially when the trend is as delicious as the current muffin mania is.

OAT BRAN MUFFINS

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup molasses

2 cups oat bran

1 2/3 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 cup raisins

Beat eggs lightly in bowl. Stir in buttermilk, honey and molasses. Stir together bran, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and raisins in large mixing bowl. Add to egg mixture and stir just until all ingredients are blended.

Fill greased muffin pans about 3/4 full. Bake at 425 degrees about 15 minutes or until wood pick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean. Remove from pan. Makes 18 to 20 muffins.

GARLIC-CREAM CHEESE MUFFINS

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1 egg

1/2 cup oil

3/4 cup milk

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons snipped chives

4 ounces cream cheese, diced

Sesame seeds

Saute garlic in butter until tender. Set aside. Beat egg in bowl. Stir in oil and milk. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix dry ingredients into egg mixture just until flour is moistened. Mixture should not be completely smooth. Fold in chives.

Fill greased muffin cups 1/2 full. Drop cream cheese pieces into muffin batter. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 400 degrees 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from pan. Serve with jelly or butter. Makes 18 small or 12 medium muffins.

ORANGE-DATE MUFFINS

1 cup flour

Sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup finely chopped dates

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Stir and toss together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat egg lightly in bowl. Beat in shortening, 1/4 cup orange juice and milk. Add remaining dry ingredients, mixing just until flour is moistened. Batter should not be completely smooth. Fold in dates and nuts.

Fill greased or paper-lined large muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees 25 to 30 minutes or until wood pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan. Brush with remaining orange juice and roll in sugar to coat lightly. Makes 6 large muffins.

BANANA-MINICHIP MUFFINS

1 egg, beaten

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 cup oil

1/3 cup milk

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