Saturday, April 30, 2011

Good to the Grain

Baking...not my strongest kitchen skill. I've mastered certain cookies but only after a lifetime of baking them. Every so often I'll still end up with a dud batch, edible but remain just between me and my morning coffee. Baking is special occasion. Baking is sweet and decadent. With all of the cooking I've done in the last year, my baking repertoire is shockingly slim. Well, not so shocking really, because baking is a pain in the ass. Too scientific, no margin for error, too rigid... and baking with whole wheat flour? well that's been practically non-existent in the Little Kitchen. Why go to all that trouble for dry, leaden muffins that taste like cardboard. Too heavy. Too blech. Just never had much luck with it.
Yet I find myself in perplexed possession of Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce (via my margarita induced Amazon spree). Into the great unknown and way out of my comfort zone I toss it into the backpack, bungee on the market basket and pedal off to the natural foods co-op. I find myself buying the following: whole wheat flour, rye flour, oat flour, barley flakes and hulled millet. Last night I actually made flour with the barley and millet. I made my own flour! CA-razy no? The only reason I figured I could do this is because a while ago Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for something that called for oat flour and she suggested you could just throw some rolled oats into the food processor if pressed. So since Rainbow didn't have barley flour or millet flour...I got creative.
All five flours get mixed together to create a multigrain flour that gets used in several recipes. Last night I made Spice Muffins. They are unbelievably moist and perfectly sweet, though there's barely any sugar in them. Unsulphured molasses and applesauce?!? Brilliant!
Even more brilliant was the revelation that to achieve optimal muffin tops: fill the batter to the top of the cup and only use every other cup to allow the top to spill over. Just be sure to butter or spray the top of the pan.
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