Martha Rose Shulman's Maple Pecan Muffins
Penelope Casas' Sauteed Green Beans

Nigella Lawson's Maple Pecan Muffins


You're going to think I'm looney tunes - I know. I just posted on maple pecan muffins yesterday, and here I go again? But, trust me, dear reader. Would I be boring you with yet another treatise on breakfast goods if the recipe were anything less than stellar? Absolutely not.

It all started last night when I read Molly's suggestion (thank you!) for a bake-off between the muffins I made yesterday, and Nigella Lawson's version from her book, Feast. Having just had a miserable experience with one of Nigella's baking recipes, I thought it might be a double challenge. Since I had all the required ingredients at home already, and I could always use a soothing hour in the kitchen to keep me sane, and my coworkers scarfed down every last muffin yesterday so I that had an actual excuse to bring more muffins into the world, I set out this morning to bake my breakfast (again).

The recipe differs in some place from Shulman's - it has a bit more flour, a goodly amount of wheatgerm, four whole teaspoons of baking powder, and far more pecans. I remembered the oil this time around, and used only one egg (as directed). When the batter came together, it seemed oddly stiff (I didn't overbeat - never fear). I spooned it into the little paper shells, then sprinkled gorgeously aromatic chopped nuts and sugar over each muffin top. The muffins baked for only twenty minutes, until the topping had browned and smelled irresistibly good.

I broke open a muffin after it had cooled, and found a perfect crumb. It was light and tender, but had a substantialness to it from the wheat germ and nuts. It had the barest sweetness from the maple syrup, and the topping gave it a welcome crunch. The presence of so many more pecans gave it that otherworldly flavor that matched so well with the subtle taste of the maple syrup. As much as I liked the muffins from yesterday, these muffins are far superior. In fact, I'd say they'll be my go-to maple pecan muffins forevermore. I'll do my best to hang on to them until Ben comes back from LA, but I can't make any promises.

Maple Pecan Muffins
Makes 12

1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fill a 12-cup muffin tray with paper liners. Reserve 1/4th of the chopped pecans.

2. Mix together the remaining pecans with flour, salt, wheat germ and baking powder. In another bowl, whisk together milk, egg, maple syrup, oil and vanilla.

3. Pour the liquids into the dry mixture. Gently fold to mix. The batter can have some lumps. Do not overmix because these muffins can get tough. Spoon batter into muffin cups.

4. Chop the remaining nuts finely and mix with the brown sugar. Sprinkle a little of this mixture on top of each muffin.

5. Bake for about 20 minutes until tester comes clean. The nut topping turns golden, but the muffins will be somewhat pale. Remove muffins to a cooling rack.