Just like pouring sand

Our second bread-to-be-buttered this week (here is the first, if you missed it) is actually a muffin. On the eve of the day when we made the butter, I realized that we were out of bread to smear it on. I wanted something that would be done in time for dinner, and it needed to come together quickly, avoiding the meltdowns that can ensue if I try to do too much in the kitchen at the witching hour five o’clock. Luckily, the promise of Brown Muffins was enough to get my kids’ attention.

Brown Muffins are relatively new to our kitchen, but they are a big deal around here. Part of their appeal is that they actually live in the neighborhood of cake. Maybe even in the house of cake. I’m not sure at exactly what point on the sweetness spectrum muffin becomes cupcake. These are battered and mixed like a muffin, and I don’t frost them, so I feel safe calling them Brown Muffins. But there is a valid cupcake argument to be made here, especially if you like a less-sweet, unfrosted cupcake. As I do. Ahem. But I was making them for the kids. And for the butter.

Brown Muffins are a cousin of Boston Brown Bread (a Massachusetts delicacy that apparently is generally steamed in a coffee can). I have never eaten actual Boston Brown Bread, so I don’t know how these stack up. But I do know that these muffins are moist and sweet, with a nice hit of molasses  – while not as richly flavored, there is something about them that calls to mind gingerbread, or spice cake.

Jacob insisted that he had poured muffins before, and with one eye on Lucas careening around the kitchen topless (my one year old has learned to take his own shirts off – what on earth?) I let him, only thinking to ask after the fact about when he had poured muffin batter before. “I poured sand into the muffin tins at school.”

I see. Well, at least we avoided the meltdowns.


Brown Muffins
Adapted from Marion Cunningham’s Boston Brown Bread Muffins – the original recipe is in The Breakfast Book

3/4 cup dark rye flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup molasses (either regular or blackstrap works, depending on the flavor profile you want to create)
1/3 cup dark muscovado sugar (or any good brown sugar)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk (from making your butter)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter a standard muffin pan (12 muffins). Mix together the flours, salt, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, molasses, sugar, oil, and buttermilk. Blend well. Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, and mix.

Fill the muffin tins (we fill them almost to the top) and bake for 15-20 minutes, until your tester comes out clean.

As mentioned, these are great with butter. Cream cheese – just a smidge – is also nice. Just don’t go thinking about sweetening the cream cheese up – that would be getting a little too close to frosting.

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