I’m really bad at cross-referencing ingredients for baked goods with what I have in the cabinets. For that reason, I have enough flour to last me well through the holidays of 2010, and plenty of sugar to spare (granulated white, confectioners, light and dark brown.) The silver lining of my stocked baking cabinet (other than, of course, having a stocked baking cabinet) is that I can respond to a spontaneous desire for homemade chocolate-chip cookies when the mood strikes.
My refrigerator has been stocked with pears since they came in season, and I’m perfectly happy to enjoy them just as they are; pears are a great source of Vitamin C, and a provider of about 15% of daily required dietary fiber. According to USAPears.com, pears are considered a “nutrient-dense” food, meaning they contains few calories but provide vital nutrients. The high fiber and water content of nutrient-dense foods is useful in curbing appetite and giving the sensation of one being full; perfect for a mid-afternoon snack.
Last week, I decided to join the forces of my well-stocked baking cabinet and my ample pear supply and concoct these moist, warm, seasonably appropriate Pear-Ginger Muffins.
1 Anjou pear, peeled, cored, and quartered
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon plus 2 pinches salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, Fahrenheit and line muffin tin with cupcake liners. Cut 3 pear quarters into 1/4-inch dice; cut remaining pear quarter into 12 thin slices for garnish. Whisk together sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and ginger in a medium bowl. Add diced pear and toss to coat. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and butter in a small bowl. Gently fold buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until just combined; do not overmix. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Top each with a pear slice and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Bake until muffins are brown around edges and spring back when touched, 16 to 18 minutes. Let muffins cool slightly, about 5 minutes, before turning out of tin onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This recipe is based on a Martha Stewart recipe for Apple-Cinnamon muffins, and I substituted the exact amounts of apple and cinnamon for pear and ginger, respectively. Having the ingredients on-hand made for a stress-free experience; however, the recipe is relatively fail-proof. I know what you’re thinking: who actually happens to have buttermilk conveniently available in the fridge? I must admit, buttermilk was not in my possession, but I made an easy substitute using whole milk and white vinegar. Simply add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to a liquid measuring cup, then add enough milk to equal 1 cup. Let the mixture stand for about 5 minutes before using it in your recipe. The texture of the muffins came out incredibly moist and cakey, almost as if they were begging to be topped with icing and transform into cupcakes. The pear pieces soften ever so slightly in the baking process, and become just a tad sweeter, which is perfectly paired with the appearance of ginger. Adding more ginger certainly wouldn’t hurt, though; since cinnamon is slightly more potent, it’s not surprise Martha only added ½ a teaspoon. Perhaps another ½ teaspoon of ginger would pump up the flavor.
In the end, this produced about 1 ½ dozen muffins, which was enough to taste test, share with family, and enjoy through the beginning of the week. They stayed fresh wrapped in saran wrap on the kitchen counter for a couple days. Since they were delicious, easy to make and convenient, I would say the Pear-Ginger Muffins were a hit. Maybe I’ll actually wind up putting a dent in the ingredients in my baking cabinet.