Thursday, September 23, 2010

English Muffins & Granola Bars

More and more, I find myself making things that I used to buy in the grocery store.  I'm not sure if whether I want to know exactly what is in my food, to cut down on the added sugar/chemicals/additives or to save a few bucks by making it myself (probably a combination!).  So my latest attempts - English muffins and granola bars.  I'll be trying to make crackers next!

I was worried the English muffins wouldn't come out right.  The dough was really sticky and I couldn't really roll out the dough with a pin -  I had smooth out the dough with my hand instead.  However, they did come out delicious! Soft, great flavor - I had two immediately with jam and didn't even bother toasting them!

The granola bars are a lot of fun because you're supposed to add in anything that you want.  There's so much room to get creative (or just use up what you have in the house).  I've been sending Bryant with one for work every day for the past several weeks...and sneaking in a few for myself! They do crumble more easily than regular granola bars but I think have a great flavor.

Homemade English Muffins
Taken from: King Arthur Flour
Makes approx. 16-24 muffins (depending on how large you like them)
  • 1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) milk, warm (to approx. 100-100 degrees F) 
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) butter
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 to 4 1/4 cups (17 to 18 ounces) flour (I used 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 cup whole wheat and 2 1/4 cup white whole wheat) 
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • Cornmeal
-Place the ingredients in the pan of your bread machine following the manufacturer's instructions. Use the "dough" or "manual" setting.  If, however, you are like me and don't own a bread machine, follow these steps:
  • Combine all of the ingredients (except the cornmeal) in a mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix till everything is combined, then beat at high speed (using the flat beater paddle, if you’re using a stand mixer) for 5 minutes. The dough will be soft, sticky, and glossy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover it, and allow the dough to rise for about 90 minutes, till it’s just about doubled in bulk.
-Transfer the dough to a cornmeal-sprinkled surface and roll it out until it's about 1/2-inch thick (I used my hands instead of a rolling pin). Cut out circles with a floured 3-inch cutter (I used a glass drinking glass, coated in cooking spray and then dipped in flour). Re-roll and cut out the leftover dough. Cover the muffins with a damp cloth and let rest for about 20 minutes.
-Heat a frying pan or griddle to very low heat. Do not grease, but sprinkle with cornmeal.  Try one muffin and c
heck after about 3 to 4 minutes to see that the muffins are browning gently and are neither too dark nor too light.  If they seem to be cooking either too fast or too slowly, adjust the temperature of your pan or griddle (Start at 250 degrees if you know your temperature, then try 300, then 350.  I had to use 350.)
-Cook four muffins at a time, cornmeal side down first, for about 7 minutes per side.
-When the muffins are brown on both sides, transfer them to a wire rack to cool, and proceed with the rest. If you have two frying pans (or a large griddle), you'll be better able to keep up with your rising muffins. 

Homemade Granola Bars
Taken from: Smitten Kitchen
Makes an 8x8 pan - I believe we got approx. 20 bars
  • 1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar (I went with 1/3 and thought it was delicious but use more for a sweetness closer to most purchased bars)
  • 1/3 cup oat bran OR oat flour (to make oat flour, take 1/3 cup oats and process till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I thought you could really taste it, so if you don't like cinnamon as much, go for the 1/8)
  • 2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts for a total of 10 to 15 ounces (I believe I used 1 cup chocolate protein powder, 1/2 cup dried craisins, 1/4 cup. sweetened coconut, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup. chopped pecans, 1/4 cup. sliced almonds)
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup (I used honey)
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup or maple syrup (I used real maple syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon water
-Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Coat the parchment paper and the exposed pan with a non-stick spray.
-Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, applesauce, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)
-Bake the bars for 25 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but they’ll set completely once completely cool.
 -Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (After about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)  If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold.
-Once cool, use a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

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