One of the many things I've been accused of is never leaving well enough alone. I analyse, overanalyse and poke holes in things and ideas until the point of my own often-fleeting satisfaction.
It annoys some people.
In certain instances it's to make sure I've made the right decision. I read prospectuses, I look at the alternatives, I weigh pros and cons. I like to think I rarely take recommendations blindly from sales people: I've found their advice is very rarely given with an altruistic bent, and more often planted by sales quotas. Admittedly, there's a little rush I get when I put on the doe-eyed "I don't quite understand this" bunny voice and innocently ask the question they don't want to answer...
In other instances I want to see how I can do the same thing but easier, faster, cheaper or (when it comes to food) tastier. Nothing wrong with that. At least not to me.
When it comes to cooking and baking I like to play....which results in NTSM (never twice (the) same meal). When I sort out a base recipe I take off from there. Sometimes I change one ingredient, sometimes I change a whole bunch. Gosh, it frustrated The Fussy Eater.
"Why can't you just make a normal (insert whatever dish I happened to serve). I liked it the last time. Why do you always have to change things?"
Of course, what he never realised was "the last time" wasn't the straight recipe. My response was usually "What, don't you like it?"
He usually grudgingly admitted that he did.
Mind you, there are recipes that just beg to be played with, if only for the number of times it's prepared. Muffins are a prime example. I make a dozen every couple of weeks and sometimes I revert to the original flavours, I often change things to what's on hand, what's in season or to satisfy a craving.
Now that we're in that post-Thanksgiving-pre-Christmas period, right now I'm craving cranberries and tart apples...hence cranapple muffins. These quick breads aren't like the cake-like offerings found in coffee shops and mass-market cafeterias--the crumb, while not exactly tender, has enough body to make them perfect for breakfast or late-aftenoon pick me up. I prefer to soak the cranberries for a little while before adding them to the batter--not only do the plump nicely, but it also rids them of their imposed, insipid sweetness.
Makes 12 "normal sized" muffins
60g butter, melted
200g ap flour
1 dspn baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a good pinch of salt
200ml plain or vanilla yoghurt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
75g dried cranberries, rehydrated in boiling water for about 10 or 15 minutes
1 tart apple, peeled and chopped (Granny Smith, Greening or any other varietal you happen to have on hand).
Line a 12-bun muffin tray with papers and preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
Seive together the flour, baking powder, bicarb, sugar and salt.
Mix together the yoghurt, butter, egg and vanilla. Pour into the dry ingredients. Quickly bring together the mixture--this will only take a few stirs with a spoon: lumps are okay as you aren't looking for cake batter. Fold in the apples and cranberries. Divide between the muffin bowls and bake until an inserted cake tester comes out cleanly...about 25 minutes, depending upon your oven's temperment.