Do you ever use a mix when you're baking?
I do, especially when I'm short on time. It's sooooo easy to grab a box, crack some eggs, and Bob's your uncle - brownies in half an hour.
Speaking of brownies, those were my very first foray into baking – aside from licking the bowl when Mom made a Duncan Hines cake. Back when I was in college, oh about a million years ago, I quickly discovered that there was nothing like the smell of brownies baking to bring all the boys running to the kitchen. (And yes, I lived in a co-ed dorm. So maybe it was only 500,000 years ago.)
At some point, I decided to make one of my mom's specialties, peanut butter cookies. Needing flour, I trekked to the grocery store, down the brownie aisle, and was introduced to King Arthur Flour.
"Never bleached," the bag said. I had no clue what that meant, but it sounded so peremptory – like a school teacher reading you the riot act – that I felt I had no choice but to buy it.
The peanut butter cookies came out great. And I've never baked with anything but King Arthur ever since. Why mess with success?
These days, I don't rely on mixes like I did when I was a teenager. But I do keep a few stashed away, just in case – especially gluten-free mixes, for those times when I'm making refreshments for a crowd (since every crowd these days inevitably has one or more members eating gluten-free).
And while we're on the subject, my fellow test kitchen baker, Charlotte, asked me a few weeks ago to let people know that our gluten-free muffin mix makes a heckuva good GF pumpkin muffin.
"Could you do a blog about that?" she asked.
That's it. Simple, right?
So simple that I thought I'd try some variations.
This particular mix is perfectly geared towards making a trio of flavors. Simply divide the dry mix into three parts. To each part, add 2 tablespoons melted butter or oil; 1 egg; 1/3 cup milk or other liquid; and 1/2 cup add-ins.
For pumpkin muffins, I add butter, egg, and 1/3 cup pumpkin. For cinnamon chip muffins, butter, egg, milk, and 1/2 cup cinnamon chips. For cranberry-orange, I use butter, egg, orange juice, and dried cranberries.
Bake... enjoy! Look at these wonderfully buxom cinnamon chip muffins, would you? All three flavors are moist, tender, delicious... and gluten-free.
These muffins went straight to a gala birthday breakfast for a 99-year-old member of our church. Sure enough, there were those looking for gluten-free treats – and happily I could oblige!