Friday, April 27, 2007

Cherry Spelt Muffins

The final item in our Easter baskets were these cherry spelt muffins. My whole "trying to make something healthy" mania was in full swing here. I had purchased the spelt flour a little while ago to try it so somehow I thought giving an experimental muffin as a gift was a good idea. The cherry idea came from Sam Adams Cherry Wheat beer. Yep, I made a muffin based on a beer. In fact, it was a beer that sorely disappointed me so I made a muffin based on a beer I didn't like. Yep, that should have told me how this would go.

The first batch I made went like this: Only used half of a cup of cherries and soaked them in the Kirschwasser alone. Didn't like that flavor overall so I added the tart cherry juice. I wanted to use honey for this recipe but instead of measuring out 1/2 cup I measured 1 cup and didn't notice until I had mixed it with the eggs so I had to start over at that point and oops, out of honey so I'm using brown sugar instead. Mix it up and bake it. Cool them off and have a bite...of the half of the muffin not permanently attached to the muffin paper. And you really only tasted the spelt. *sigh* I couldn't use these as a gift.

So while I was waiting for the cupcakes to cool, I tried again. This time I doubled the amount of cherries and added a little vanilla and also used some of the cherry juice in the batter. The batter itself was really light. It was good to not use the paper lining the second time because having the crust around the muffin gave it more structure and gave it a little tooth versus the airy center.

But again taste was an issue. If you had a muffin with a number of cherries in it then it was just as I imagined, cherry complimenting the spelt flavors. If you didn't get enough cherries, it was a decent dinner roll.

I liked them but I think there are better ways to implent this. First, it was a light, wet batter which I think would work well for pancakes, especially the stuffed varieties. Baking these without the papers reminded me of the stuffed pancakes using a pan like this.Instead of adding the cherries, use jam in the center. But if I was to stick to muffins, I would probably go more to the savory ingredients. When I worked at the Deli, we had a bacon and cheese muffin that I think would work well using spelt.

Cherry Spelt Muffins

Makes about 12 muffins

2 1/4 cups spelt flour
1 Tbls. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup dried cherries
2 Tbls. Kirschwasser
2 Tbls. tart cherry juice

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Soak the cherries in the Kirschwasser and tart cherry juice for up to an hour before using. Do not get rid of the liquid when you are done soaking the cherries.

Combine the eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk in a bowl, mix well, and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (all the remaining ingredients except the cherries) and whisk to combine. Now add in the cherries and give a quick stir to cover with the flour mixture. Finally, add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until everything is just mixed. Don't over mix.

Spoon the mixture into greased muffin cups. Fill each to the top and mound slightly in the center if possible.

Bake for 16-20 minutes. About halfway through, rotate the pan 180°. The muffins are done when a cake tester comes out clean and they spring back when pressed lightly. Remove from the oven, let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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