Pear-Ginger Muffins

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Minis

I’ve been recovering from surgery the past several weeks so I haven’t been doing a lot of baking, but had a hankering for something home baked today so I made Pear-Ginger Muffins (recipe on the Williams Sonoma site here). I underestimated how much prep work it would take to make the batter but powered through thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s brilliance in the form of the cast album of Hamilton. It magically helped quell my weariness with all the peeling, grating and dicing (cutting up the hard and sticky crystallized ginger has to be the absolute worst kitchen task evah).

I used white whole wheat flour in lieu of the all-purpose flour, and went a little light on the brown sugar (used 5 oz. rather than 5.3 oz.) and a little heavy on the fresh grated ginger (approximately double the 1 tablespoon asked for). I didn’t end up using all the chopped crystallized ginger that I had reserved for the tops of the muffins as it just looked a little excessive.

The recipe yield was supposed to be 12 standard sized muffins but I ended up with a bit of extra batter, so I was able to make 8 mini muffins as well. I baked the minis for 10 minutes which was perfect, but I think baking the full sized muffins for the suggested 15 minutes was a minute or two too long; I really should’ve checked them sooner. The muffins were browner than I would’ve liked and the tester was absolutely crumbless… I suspect they are a little overbaked.

The minis are nicely moist and not too, too sweet. I have to confess I was worried as it seemed like a lot of brown sugar for the amount of flour in the batter, plus there was all that sugar on the crystallized ginger and the sweetness from the pear (I used a red Anjou pear from the much appreciated get well fruit and snack basket that my SIL sent me a couple weeks ago.) Surprisingly, they aren’t crazy gingery even with the three forms (fresh, powdered and crystallized)… ginger zealot that I am, I would’ve enjoyed a bit more!

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Standard sized

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(Pain à l’Ancienne) Focaccia Friday

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This was made by request for my lovely son Cormac when he was home for spring break a few weeks ago. I started off his break with my go-to, Classic French Bread from Peter Reinhart’s excellent Artisan Breads Every Day; this Pain à l’Ancienne Focaccia from the same book was the follow-up later in the week. Lea of Lea & Jay wrote an excellent post about their experience making (and eating) this focaccia,  and included the recipe, here. As with all recipes in this book, you do have to mix the dough the night before and leave it to retard overnight in the refrigerator, so as long as you allow time for that, you’re golden.

I’ll mention that I did not alter the recipe from the original (as I so often do). I chose not to make the suggested herb oil to top the bread, but instead opted for the quick and easy way out. Right before putting the dough in the oven to bake, I topped it with Trader Joe’s Himalayan Pink Salt (applied with some restraint), as well as garlic powder and freshly ground dried mixed Italian herbs (both somewhat liberally). My rationale behind selecting the dried flavorings over fresh was that they’d be less likely to scorch during baking than if I were to simply sprinkle fresh garlic and herbs on top. It was not at all because I was feeling lazy.

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I found that the focaccia didn’t rise as much as I would’ve expected, especially given that I gave it plenty of time for a final proof and in a warm environment at that, which is sometimes a struggle during cooler months. But there were no complaints from the peanut gallery. All three of my guys loved it — especially Cormac, who ate it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time until it was gone.