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December 3, 2008 / Tony

French Breakfast Muffins


French Breakfast Muffins

Let me be up front about this, these muffins are good.  They are sugary, moist, rich and tender good.  They are so good that they were introduced to me by by Kathy Fullin as a holiday treat; something brought to share at Christmas and Thanksgiving.  But, I’d rather just eat them year round.  Here’s the recipe from the 1970 Betty Crocker Cookbook:

French Breakfast Muffins

1/3 cup shortening

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups (7.5 oz) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 15 muffin cups.  Mix thoroughly shortening, 1/2 cup sugar, and the egg.  Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a separate bowl.  Then alternately stir in the dry ingredients and milk.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes.  Mix 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon.  Immediately after baking, remove muffins from the pan.  Roll muffins in melted butter, then in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Serve hot.

A few notes:  1)  I think the 1970 Betty Crocker Cookbook deserves at least a little bit of love.  It contains this recipe as well as an excellent recipe for Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese.  I had thought that Betty Crocker to be of inferior cookbook quality (based upon the late 1990’s edition) but it appears that the 1970 version had some killer recipes.  2)  More importantly, there is the issue of how many muffins this recipe should make.  The original recipe says it makes 15 muffins.  This, of course, is problematic because I have a 12 cup regular size muffin pan.  (A mini-muffin pan would, presumably, solve this problem.)  And Kathy was insistent on making 15 muffins, admonishing me to:

“don’t be tempted to make this recipe in only 12 cups — the muffins need to be small to get out of the tin”

But I was unwilling to bake my muffins in two stages.  It would take too much time and I didn’t want the batter to sit for that long.  Instead, I just put 3 T of batter in the regular sized muffin cups and things turned out fine.  (Why 3 T?  Well, I have a 3 T disher that I use for baking.  It was nearly perfect.  I got 10 identical muffins and a half-sized muffin.)    3)  While mixing, as with all quick breads, don’t overmix.  Beat the shortening and sugar till your heart’s content but as soon as the flour mixture is added, use a very light hand.  I add the dry ingredients in 3 stages alternated with two stages of milk.  So, the mixing method looks like this:  1-sugar and shortening; 2-egg; 3-dry ingredients; 4-milk; 5-dry ingredients; 6-milk; and 7-dry ingredients.  And when mixing, start on the next stage before the previous stage is quite mixed in.  The goal is to mix as little as possible.  4)  Kathy states you can substitute butter for the shortening, use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, and substitute up to 1/4 cup of the flour with whole-wheat pastry flour.  5)  Finally, if you’re not weighing your flour, Kathy sifts and then measures it.  Enjoy!

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