Thursday, March 22, 2012

Buy the Book: Molasses Cupcakes

Maked Molasses Cupcakes

You may have noticed I don't really share recipes from cookbooks. In fact, I rarely cook or bake from cookbooks. I'm stubborn, independent, mildly ADD, and far too much of a free-spirit to be corralled by someone else's recipe.

However, this does not mean I don't OWN cookbooks. In fact, I have tidy and ever-growing collection of cookbooks arranged neatly in a bookcase. Quite often, I find myself paging through the books, stopping to read tips here and there, spotting a surprising ingredient or (my favorite part) carefully pouring over the author's introduction chapter. But do I actually make the recipes?

::cough::

Cookbooks Shelf

The point is, when I discovered Dom's Random Recipes challenge hosted on his wonderful Belleau Kitchen blog, I found myself torn in two directions. On the one hand, I instantly recoiled from the notion of picking a recipe at random from a cookbook and adhering to written instructions. On the other hand, Dom's challenge is the perfect excuse to cage my free spirit and put my collection of cookbooks to the work they were meant for.


Two months later, I have finally plucked up enough courage to face down my stubborn resistance and join the Random Recipes challenge for the first time. I really didn't get to pick the cookbook because thanks to Choclette from the Chocolate Log Blog, Dom instructed us to select the 17th cookbook on our book shelf. But I really should be thanking Choclette because I was randomly re-introduced to Good For You Cakes, a cookbook I picked up at a thrift store some time back and promptly forgot about.

Good For You Cakes

This is a small book but it packs a multitude of recipes thanks to a complete lack of pictures. I found a kindred spirit in the intro chapter of the cookbook - the author embraces baking from scratch rather than opening a box of cake mix and she attempts to work healthful ingredients into all of her recipes. Like the molasses cupcakes I'm about to share.

I am also submitting this recipe to Caroline and Ros' AlphaBakes baking challenge alternately hosted by the Caroline Makes blog and The More Than Occasional Baker blog (Caroline is the host this month). The concept of the challenge is quite simple - the hosts randomly select a letter of the alphabet and everyone bakes something prominently featuring the selected letter. The challenge is open to everyone and it's great fun to see what others come up with, so be sure to check out AlphaBakes and send in your submission.


Originally I had no idea what I was going to bake for AlphaBakes because the selected letter "M" this month wasn't inspiring much creativity on my part. The only "M" word bouncing around my head was "macarons" - and I was NOT going to attempt those fussy little cookies no matter how delicious the outcome. So I was utterly relieved when my finger landed on the Molasses Cupcakes recipe for Dom's Random Recipes challenge. I finally had my "M" word - and I never would have thought to use molasses!

To be frank, I'm thrilled to have rediscovered Good For You Cakes cookbook - it's a gem with so many health-inspired baked goodies and I really do recommend picking up a copy if you can find one. If you're interested, try this Amazon link as a few copies pop up for sale now and then.

Molasses Cupcakes Recipe

Despite my affinity for the cookbook, I am NOT thrilled with these cupcakes. I found the molasses too overpowering, the yeast an odd complication, and the texture to crumbly and dry. To be fair, I didn't follow the author's recipe to the letter - I was missing a few ingredients (like whole wheat pastry flour, nutritional yeast and cider) and I added my own special ingredient (chopped crystalized ginger). So I am inclined to give this recipe another chance once I stock up on some of the more esoteric ingredients.

Below is the recipe I used including my changes (however I don't recommend you follow this version). For the original recipe, you'll need to buy the book (recommended anyway - even if you don't plan to make these cupcakes).


Batter Added to Tin

Molasses Cupcakes
Adapted from Good For You Cakes by Jane M. Dieckmann
Prep Time: 2 hr  Bake Time: 20 min  Oven Temp: 350℉

Ingredients

  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 1/4 cup apple brandy (or Calvados)
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup full-flavor unsulphured molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped crystalized ginger
  • 1 lemon, zest of
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg

Technique

  1. Lightly grease one non-stick muffin pan
     
  2. Bring apple juice, brandy and cider vinegar to the boil in a small pot over high heat and reduce by half (you should end up with 1 cup remaining); cool until just warmer than room temperature

    Apple JuiceApple Brandy
    Apple Juice & Brandy Reduction
     
  3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together warm apple juice reduction, yeast, 1 Tablespoon of molasses and 1 cup of flour. Let rest for 20-30 minutes until the sponge starts to bubble

    Yeast & Apple Juice CombinedAdding Molasses to Yeast Mixture
    Whisking in FlourBatter Ready to Rise
     
  4. Toss crystalized ginger with reserved remaining flour, then add all remaining ingredients to the sponge and beat with a whisk until well combined

    Add Remaining IngredientsWhisk in Remaining Flour
     
  5. Scoop batter into prepared muffin pan and let rise in a warm place until batter has risen to the lip of the muffin pan cups (about 1 hour)

    Batter Ready for Muffin TinBatter Added to Tin
     
  6. About 15 minutes before batter has finished rising, preheat oven to 350℉. Bake cupcakes for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean

    Muffins Doubled in Size
    Maked Molasses Cupcakes


14 comments:

  1. Interesting. I don't recall ever seeing molasses in a cupcake recipe before. I totally burst into a grin when you followed "adhere to written directions" with "I changed just a few ingredients" I wonder if that is a requirement for a food blogger?

    Sorry they didn't turn out perfectly for you. They do look good though!

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    1. lol I know, I really do have a hard time following a recipe. Somehow, I always end up changing something even if I'm TRYING to follow it ;)

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  2. Thanks for entering these to AlphaBakes. Such an interesting "M". That's the great thing about random recipes - rediscovering old (or new) cookbooks and trying something new even if you don't want to adhere to written instructions! It's a shame they are not quite what you expected. To be completely honest, I'm not sure I would like the taste of them but would be wiling to give it a go.

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    1. I agree, if I hadn't been participating in Dom's challenge, I don't know that I would have selected this recipe to bake ;) But I did fall in love with the cookbook so good things happened despite my issues with these cupcakes...

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  3. wow, they are packed with goodness aren't they?... I often mess around with cupcake and muffin recipes mainly due to not having all the ingredients in and I am most often than not, disappointed in the results so i think that the message is to stick to the recipe!... by the way, your post is excellent and is exactly why I started the Random Recipe challenge because i, like you, have billions of cookbooks but rarely cook from them (I think for a lot of people this rings true) and so I wanted to cook from them at least once a month.. give them a chance to shine again!... thank you SO much for taking part and getting on board the RR bandwagon, I hope you had fun and it wasn't too stressful! xx

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    1. You're probably right, Dom - I really SHOULD follow recipes precisely when I choose to use them because then I could actually give them a fair evaluation ;) And this challenge was fantastic - I was a bit nervous at first picking a recipe at random from a random book, but good things came of it so that makes me happy =)

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  4. They sound delicious, look delicious...sorry you were less than thrilled with the outcome though. I haven't used molasses in decades! I had to laugh when I read about the macarons...as they do seem like "fussy little cookies" : D

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    1. I love molasses, but somehow it didn't really work in these cupcakes ;) And I've never tried to bake macarons and I don't know if I ever will. So much tediousness involved... ;)

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  5. What a fun challenge...but sorry these weren't a favorite. What the heck is nutritional yeast anyway???? Yours is the second recipe I've seen this week calling for it...I think I'm going to start the hunt :)

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  6. What a shame that you didn't love the cupcakes more-I actually think your changes sound very nice indeed! :D

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  7. Javelin, I know what you mean! I read a cookbook like I read a novel. That recipe needs some help (I shouldn't say that, the author might be reading this!)--for instance, cut the molasses in half to just 1/4 cup and you might like it better. Rather than adding active dry yeast, you would have been better off to just ignore the nutritional yeast--they are two completely different things. And I don't think the rather cheesey taste of nutritional yeast would have added much to your pleasure in these cupcakes. But I loved reading your amusing account of your struggle to actually follow a recipe! Too funny!

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  8. Haha, I love the randomness of random recipes!! You crack me up: publishing your amended recipe but recommending us not to follow it. Too funny :0)

    Looking forward to seeing what you select next time!

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  9. I rarely follow a recipe to the letter, unless I am baking when it really does pay to try the recipe as written before messing around with it! But you had worked that out for yourself lol! Great RRV, hope you come back next time, it's a bit addictive.

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  10. Hello there! The muffins look lovely... shame you didn't enjoy it. Still, a great entry for RR Challenge.
    I adore the dark sweetness of molasses, though in the UK, I often substitute with black treacle.

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