Everything comes to an end, and in the case of this past week, that’s really for the best. It started off well enough, and I had all sorts of ambitions for things I’d get done: My to-do list was long, my vegetable drawer full.
By the end, the to-do list was no shorter and the vegetable drawer was still full, and even as Friday evening rolled around with time enough to do something about one of those things, I couldn’t find the list – it’s probably here somewhere, but I wouldn’t swear to it – and I had some awareness that me using a sharp knife at that moment was probably not the best plan.
In any case, I didn’t want dinner as much as comfort. The Child didn’t want either.
I flipped through The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, which pretty much lives on my counter these days, and ran across these carrot muffins, which seemed like a good idea on several counts: I had all the ingredients on hand; spiced, baked anything sounded really good at that moment, and at least three of the carrots in my kitchen would get used before they expired. So, on the Friday night of the week that I hope is not a sign of how the new year is going to go, I made them.
These muffins are delicious – buttery, light, moist, and spicy. Douglas uses a mixing technique I’ve not encountered before, layering the carrots and currants between the beaten wet ingredients and sifted dry ingredients, then folding the mixture just enough to blend. I’m not quite sure why, and if you happen know, please fill me in. The muffins didn’t rise quite as much as I expected them too, so I may have done something wrong (over-folded?). Still, I managed not to burn the butter, and render it a deep, nutty brown.
There is something comforting about a house that smells like melted butter, and there are times when breakfast is what you really need for dinner. So The Child and I watched Disney movies together, and scratched The Dog behind the ears, and ate muffins out of the oven on a Friday night.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1⁄2 cup dried currants
- 1⁄2 cup water
- 1 3⁄4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3⁄4 tsp cinnamon
- 3⁄4 tsp ground ginger
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1⁄2 tsp grated orange zest
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 3⁄4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup peeled and grated carrot
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line the muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.
- To make the brown butter, place the butter in a small saucepan over medium- high heat and cook until the butter solids are browned and smell toasty, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes or a little longer. Watch carefully so the butter does not burn. As the butter browns, the foam rises to the top and dark brown particles stick to the bottom of the pan. As soon as the butter is dark golden brown, pour it into a small bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Combine the currants with the water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Simmer until the currants are plump, about 10 minutes. Remove the currants from the heat, drain, and transfer to a small bowl to cool to room temperature.
- Into a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and ginger together twice, then set the dry ingredients aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, orange zest, vanilla, and salt. Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium- high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer. Without stirring, place the carrots and currants on top of the egg mixture. Then pour the dry ingredients on top and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold everything together. Finally, fold in the browned butter, combining everything thoroughly but gently.
- Scoop the muffins into the paper- lined muffin cups, dividing it evenly, using about 3 ounces, or about 1 ⁄3 cup, of batter per muffin.
- Bake until the muffins are cooked through and golden, about 18 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through the baking time. A wooden skewer inserted into a muffin should come out with a few crumbs clinging but no batter.
- Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack about 10 minutes before unmolding.