December 07, 2010

Healthy Muffins with Carla

Yesterday was quiet a different Monday. I was home sick, which meant I did not go in for work but also that, sadly, I did not go baking with Carla.

Baking with Carla does not really feel like a job. I always have so much fun and while she learns, I learn. The reason why I love working with kids (I should say “hang out” with kids) is that, despite the fact that sometimes they can REALLY be stressful, demanding, a pain in the …  (oh yeah, let’s say it! but who’s not?! Grown ups are too! I am, for sure!), at the end of the day I always learn from them.

So, yesterday I was very sad for not seeing Carla and I cheered myself up by starting to write this post about what we baked last week. Last Monday was our first post-Thanksgiving baking and I thought it was a good idea to make something a bit “lighter”. I went for another Dorie Greenspan’s recipe, the Great Grains Muffins.

Another reason, though, pushed me to choose this recipe. I usually like having Carla to touch, smell, and taste different ingredients. It’s a great sensory experience for kids and grown ups should not forget to do so themselves (it’s a lot of fun!). It’s good for her to see that there are different type of flours, or flour substitutes and it’s also interesting for her (and me) to see that there might be ingredients that we do not like when they are raw or when tasted individually but that turn out great tasting when cooked or combined with others. When we did the pumpkin whoopie pies, for example, she smelled the pumpkin straight out of the can and she “eeeewwwwed” so badly that I was even unsure whether to go on and make those whoopie pies. As much as she disliked the smell of the pumpkin out of the can, she loved the whoopie pies. Another time the smelled and tasted the grounded ginger and she found that too pretty disgusting. I told her how sometimes there are ingredients that seem to have a strong taste but then you cannot single them out when the dish is cooked.

It’s all about trying out and experimenting, right? That’s what we do once per week. And last week experiment turned out great. We loved the muffins. They got an A from the three of us (Carla, her mom and me) and….I got to bring one home for the morning after (that's why the pictures are better than the usual pictures on "Baking with Carla" posts). I have to say, properly stored, the morning after the muffin was as good as fresh from the oven.

Great Grains Muffins

128 gr (4.5 oz or 1 cup) all-purpose flour
40 gr (1.4 oz or 1/3 cup) whole wheat flour
60 gr (2.1 oz or 1/3 cup) yellow cornmeal (I used white cornmeal)
30 gr (1 oz or 1/3 cup) old-fashioned oats
50 gr (1.78 oz or ¼ cup) sugar
10 gr (2 tsp) baking powder
2 gr (¼ tsp) baking soda
2 gr (¼ tsp) salt
240 ml (8 fl oz or 1 cup) buttermilk
113 gr (4 oz or 1/3 cup) maple syrup
2 eggs
113 gr (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
a few chopped nuts*

*we did not put the nuts in the batter but simply topped the muffins with them

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees and grease or insert liners into a 12 muffin pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, the cornmeal, the oats, the sugar, the baking powder, the baking soda and the salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, the maple syrup, the eggs, and the butter. Add the mixture to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and top each muffin with two or three chunks of nuts.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are golden. Let the pan cool down for 5 minutes on a cooling rack before attempting to unmold the muffins.

Have a sweet day!

Source: Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From my Home to Yours


  1. I agree wholeheartedly. Today I was exhausted from a day teaching yet I went to cooking club and spent an hour with 7 little boys cooking three dishes for Out of the Cold. We all learned something today - I always do from my little chefs. A wonderful thing you are doing here with Carla :-)

  2. Sorry your sick! I love having kids in the kitchen, they remind us to laugh and experiment! I can imagine Carla didn't like the taste of ginger on it's own, I don't think I do either. Have a great rest of the week.

  3. sorry to hear your still not feeling well...hopefully you will be back to your old self soon!
    What a wonderful muffin, the oats and cornmeal are such a nice touch..and I agree the nuts on the top, much more pleasing to the eye.
    Tell Carla I still don't like ginger!
    Feel better

  4. Healthy muffins are one of my favorite breakfast foods during the week. They are always quick, simple and filling and yours definitely don't disappoint! Hope you are feeling better soon :)

  5. I was just looking through my Dorie Greenspan's book for a delicious muffin recipe last night and these caught my eye. But I so wanted to read a review before making them and then I found out that you made them! What perfect timing! :) Your muffins look soooo delicious and I'm so glad to hear that you all loved them. I love the idea of putting the nuts on top instead.
    And I can't tell you how much I enjoy reading about your baking with Carla! I'm so glad she's learning so much from you.
    I hope you feel better soon :)

  6. @Mardi: I'm actually looking forward for Carla to grow up a little bit to be able to be more complex things but still, we are setting the much fun and I know you can understand :) I still need to make your granola bars with her.
    @Gina @The Chef: I actually don't dislike ginger. She could not even cope with the smell! But I'll let her know that two amazing food bloggers don't like it either. She'll be happy to share something with you :)
    @Sarah: aren't they the best breakfast ever? I was so happy to get one to bring home (and I did not share it with my hubby)
    @Lindsey: well, there you go! Dorie's recipe never fail but I really really like this muffin recipe in particular. They are healthy but very tasty. And you really can play around a lot with them. I almost thought of tossing in some choc chips but I kept them simple. Let me know what you think of them when you will try them out

  7. What a cool project! All the different grains in these muffins sound amazing. I always love something that can be healthy and yummy at the same time. Plus it fills you up, so it's a great start to the day!

  8. Do you bake regularly with kids, other than your own? Sounds like fun. Get well soon.

  9. Ooh, these muffins look moist and delicious. I hope that they made you feel a little better - sorry you are not feeling well, but I guess it's that time of year? Hopefully you are getting it out of your system early and will be good and healthy for the rest of winter.

  10. I hope you start feeling better soon, Sara! I'm sorry you couldn't work with Carla the other day, but these muffins that you did last week look wonderful!

  11. Well your fantastic. You can provide this deliciousiness even through your ill... Thank you for sharing. Get better soon. All the Best. Luna

  12. What a neat muffin. I was surprised to see the cornmeal. Looks delicious.

  13. Get well soon. This is very nice project to bake with Carla. I particularly like the way you present ingredients to her and have her taste some of them.

  14. I hope you're feeling better soon, Sara! The muffins look wonderful :-) Kate

  15. What a wonderful recipe Sara!! We are always on the lookout for healthy yet easy to take along snacks. I can see this one easily slipped into my daughter's dance bag for a much needed mid class energy lift!

  16. delicious muffins love the addition of buttermilk

  17. Love the Carla baking adventures! Hope you're feeling better. Great little muffins to experiment with texture and flavor.

  18. Those sound so good!! Losts of good things in them. Get well :)

  19. Ciao Sara-I hope you are feeling better tonight. I like your healthy muffins. I could just eat one now with that yummy looking jam!!:)

  20. Hope you feel better soon, Sara :( I love how the muffins contain so many grains - white, whole wheat flour, cornmeal, oats, yum. I love your plate in the picture too :-)

  21. Kids can be so insightful about the simple things we take for granted! I guess this includes cooking ingredients too!
    What cute little muffins and healthy too - a great thing to bake with kids.

  22. Lovely healthy muffins! Baking with kids is such a joy. :)

  23. These are such delightful and healthy muffins...
    they look so moist :)
    Sorry your still not feeling well, hope you get better soon.

  24. I hope you're feeling better Sara! I'm going to shoot you an email about cookies :) But in the mean time, I wouldn't mind munching on one of these muffins.. they look delicious! Now if only I could find a little kid to bake with ;)

  25. You never cease to amaze, Ms. Sara Caffeina. So you teach all day and also spend after-school hours teaching kids to bake? I would have loved to spend my after-school time learning cooking and baking. Actually, I still would. Can I sign up for some tutoring? :)

  26. @Evan: you should look for a babysitting job and and then do baking with that kid :) it's a lot of fun!
    @Angi: well, yes...that's correct. but really, does it seem like a job baking with Carla?! It's so much fun. As per tutoring you...I doubt you need any tutoring, girl. but we should still have some baking sessions together and exchange recipes :)


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