Strawberry Banana Muffins

With only two of us in the house, I often end up with an extra banana or two that just didn’t get eaten before it got overripe. So rather than make the same banana bread over and over I try to do something different with them each time. Last week I chose these Strawberry Banana muffins from Joy of Baking since I needed to use up some strawberries too. These tasted just like banana bread, but with chunks of strawberries. I really enjoyed having one for breakfast each morning in place of my usual english muffin.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1 cup fresh strawberries (cut into bite sized pieces)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Position rack in center of oven.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or grease with butter or a vegetable spray. 

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and mashed banana. Add the melted butter to the brown sugar mixture and stir to combine.
In another large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gently fold in the berries, making sure they are coated with flour. This helps to prevent the berries from sinking during baking. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result.
Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.


If you like the strawberry banana flavor combination as much as I do, give these a try. They were very easy to make, and hit the spot!
– Jodi

Stud Muffin

About a year ago I got the book The Bread Bible and I read through a lot of the recipes and looked over the pictures. Right away I knew I wanted to bake more bread, but I also found one recipe that really stuck in my head- the Stud Muffin. This is a bread that is muffin shaped and the top is studded with cheese. Part of the description said “…a crumb that is almost lacy, with many medium-sized pockets that become coated with melted Gruyere.” I love bread anyways, but line the holes with cheese and I’m hooked. Plus how fun is it to say I made my own stud muffin?! 🙂


I’ve been meaning to make this one since then, but just recently got the perfect dish for baking it up in. When I saw the 2 qt souffle dish on sale and Marshall’s my mind immediately went to that line from the book. This bread has a long rise, but was not hard to make. Mine sank just a little in the center, maybe because I really couldn’t wait for it to cool properly before digging in.


Starter:
1 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 tsp instant yeast
3/4 cup water at room temp


Place flour, yeast and water in medium bowl. Whisk until very smooth, about 2 minutes. It will be like a thick batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to stand for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature.


Dough:
2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano (I used Parmesan)
2 oz Romano cheese
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup water at room temp
1 large egg
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp Gruyere cheese, cut into 1/4 in chunks


Use either a grater or a food processor to finely grate the Parmesan and Romano cheeses. In a measuring cup with a spout whisk together the water and egg.
In a medium bowl, whisk together all but 1/4 cup of the flour, yeast, salt and pepper. Sprinkle this over the starter. Add the softened butter and mix with the mixer’s dough hook on low speed while gradually adding the water/egg mixture until the flour is moistened, about 1 minute. Add the parmesan and romano cheeses, raise the mixer speed to medium and kneed the dough for 5 minutes or until elastic. The dough should be slightly sticky. If it doesn’t pull away from the bowl, beat in some or all of the remaining flour.
Empty the dough onto a lightly floured counter and flatten it into a rectangle. Press 1/2 cup of the gruyere into the dough, roll it up, and knead it to incorporate.
Place the dough in a medium/large bowl lightly greased with cooking spray. Push down dough and lightly spray the top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough, allowing to chill for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days to firm and develop flavor. Pat it down 2 or 3 times after the first hour or two until it stops rising.


Turn the dough out onto a counter and knead it lightly. Round into a ball, push it down into the souffle dish; it will fill it about halfway. Cover lightly with a piece of wax paper and let it rise in a warm area until it almost triples, about 3 to 4 hours. The center should be 1/2 to 1 inch above the top of the dish.
Preheat the oven to 350 about 45 minutes before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking sheet lined with foil on it before baking.
Brush the surface of the dough with a lightly beaten egg, being careful not to brush it over the top of the dish (which would impede rising). Gently insert the remaining 2 tbsp gruyere cubes into the dough, leaving them still visible.
Place the dish on the hot baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the bread is golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. With the tip of a sharp knife, loosen the sides of the bread where the cheese may have crusted on. Unmold the bread on a soft towel on the counter to finish cooling. This will prevent the soft fragile sides from collapsing; turn it a few times to speed cooling. It will take about 1 hour to cool completely.


The book recommends serving this with some prosciutto. I chose to serve it with soup, and Scott enjoyed some with just a little butter as a snack. I was so excited when I first cut in and saw the cheese really does line the little holes in the bread. This is one I will definitely make again, but probably only occasionally as I don’t tend to have this much cheese on hand and I’m not usually as patient as waiting a whole day to see how it will come out!


– Jodi