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Remember what it was like when you had time to sit down with a cup of tea? To sit down at all? Lately, those days seem few and far between. I’ve started my work term at a bakery about 45 minutes outside of the city, and my Real Job duties hit a feverish pitch at this time of year. There are lists everywhere. Dance costumes litter the second floor of our house. Chores have been left undone. Things – all sorts of things – are piled everywhere. I did, however, manage to sort through my kit from baking school, and I thought you might enjoy seeing what I had to lug around on my back all year. Et voilà:
a. gum paste/fondant tools | b. circular pastry/cookie cutter set | c. bench scraper | d. bowl scraper | e. lames | f. digital thermometer | g. timer
The sound of those timers going off - which I often referred to as the call of the Boulanger Bird – will forever haunt me. FYI, we took the internal temperature of every bread we baked, making our instant read thermometers one of our most used tools of the year.
a. measuring cup | b. water spritzer | c. measuring spoons | d. ice cream scoop | e. circular pastry tips | f. closed star pastry tips | g. decorating comb | h. pastry brushes
All of our mise en place/scaling was done by weight, so our measuring cups and spoons felt positively primitive when required. I believe the decorating combs caused more injuries than anything else in our kits.
a. small pallet knives | b. large pallet knives | c. spatulas | d. candy thermometer | e. squeeze bottles | f. whisks
That green electrical tape marked most of my equipment – it was a waterproof way to keep track of it. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “if it’s green, it’s Rachael’s!”
a. French knife | b. serrated knife | c. kitchen shears | d. zester | e. peeler | f. French rolling pin | g. ruler | h. rasp | i. paring knife | j. (not pictured) oven mitts. I forgot about the oven mitts.
Those knives could cut stuff just by threatening to – they be scary ass sharp. Thus leaving one in the sink area was grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.
Some personal additions: a. notebook | b. bar mops/butt towels | c. Tylenol | d. lens wipes | e. blistex | f. sticky notes | g. electrical tape | h. finger condoms | i. bandaids | j. pens/pencils/sharpies | k. socks knit by Rosie Beaucoup
Every day at school I wore socks knit by Rosie Beaucoup in my steel-toed clogs. It was nice having a piece of her with me every day – especially on the hard ones. Thanks, Mummy!
So, lets talk muffins. This is a re-take on a recipe I posted about two years ago, but I’ve added some Greek yogurt into the mix for you. This is because a) Rosie Beaucoup told me to, and b) Greek yogurt is very trendy right now. Peer pressure works, people. I learned that at college. These muffins are soft and cakey, and not overly sweet. When feeling especially decadent, I’ll slather a little butter on ‘em when they are still warm. I’d recommend using walnuts in the topping (their ever-so-slight bitterness gives a nice balance to the muffin), but you can use pecans if you like. They are perfect for breakfast, or alongside an afternoon tea break.
Let’s kick back for a while, shall we? I think we deserve it…
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Make 12 muffins.
For the filling/topping:
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
For the muffins:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Mise en place – begin by getting organized. Measure out all of your ingredients, make sure your butter is at room temperature. The batter for these muffins is thick and sticky – it’s a get-your-hands-dirty recipe.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease or line a standard muffin tin (12 wells). If your muffin wells are very shallow, you may need to adjust the portioning of the batter and filling/topping, so the muffins don’t overflow.
In a small bowl, make the filling/topping by rubbing together the brown sugar, walnuts or pecans, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer (or with a hand-held mixer), cream together the butter, sugar and eggs on medium speed (3-5 minutes). Add the Greek yogurt and vanilla and mix well to combine. Add the flour mixture, and mix to combine.
Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the batter into the bottom of each muffin well. The batter is thick – just press it down/spread it with your fingers a little if necessary. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the filling over top of the batter. Top with about 1.5 tablespoons of the remaining batter – spreading a little with fingers if necessary. Sprinkle the remaining filling/topping over top of the muffins.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden and a cake tester inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean.
Allow to cool slightly, and then remove from pan and allow to cool on wire racks.
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Deadline: May 31, 2013