Crispy New Year’s Morning!

Happy New Year to you all!

It’s been beautiful here in the PNW for the past few days – crispy cold and bright blue clear. It’s not unusual weather for us in December/January, but it’s also not that common, so I’ve come to treasure the days like this that we receive.

Our home is smack-dab under the narrow finger of Convergence Zone here, and as a result, our neighborhood got about four inches of snow on the 29th. Because it’s been so cold since, everything is still on the ground – minus the bit that has evaporated. There is still snow upon the highest branches of our tall cedars.

This is such an unusual snow experience that I am *loving* it. Snow that fell is still in powder form, so cold that walking on it hasn’t been compacting the flakes. The flip side of this, of course, is that it makes lousy snowballs to throw at the pups. Such sacrifices I’m required to make!!

While it’s chilly outside, it’s toasty inside. I can’t get tired of coming in from the cold to a warm, brightly-lit home, which this morning smells of lemon-cardamom muffins baking! YUM!

We like our “coffee snacks” here at CI, and most weekend mornings have something fresh-baked (sometimes mine, sometimes the store’s!) ready for our morning tradition of taking coffee together in the front room over chatting and reading/surfing.

This morning I wanted something particularly tasty, so I was back to one of my favorite quick-bread recipes, one from Best of Friends Festive, which is also where I get my Pumpkin Bread recipe. This morning I adapted the Poppy Seed Bread for lemon and cardamom. Then, I decided to sub half the sugar for Stevia (the other half I used white sugar, which I almost never use any longer, but I have just a bit left in a bag and I’m trying to get rid of it).

The taste is just right, a great muffin texture with a nice crumb and just the right density. I think there’s a bit of super-sweet aftertaste (from the Stevia? Might also be from the lemon extract I used, but I suspect the Stevia) which I’m not really liking, but I’m willing to trade it for the lowered sugar.

The other thing that surprised me (and apparently the Captain, when he checked the batch after the timer first went off – I was outside, taking pictures…) was that with the reduced amount of sugar, the muffins didn’t brown as they usually do. I think the Captain thought they couldn’t be done since they were so light, and set the timer for another five minutes. I thought the same when I first opened the oven to check on them after the 5 minutes had gone by, but a toothpick test came out clean. I’m glad I pulled them then, or we could have had pale little paperweights rather than scrumptious muffins this morning! I’m guessing the reduced sugar means there isn’t as much carmelization during baking, meaning a paler result at the end.

Who else is using sugar substitutes in baking, and are you finding similar results?

Again, Happy New Year, and we here at CI wish you much love, joy, health, and peace all throughout 2011.

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One thought on “Crispy New Year’s Morning!

  1. Angela says:

    Shawn,
    I love your pictures of the PNW– those are very representative of the chilly weather we’re having! What part of the region do you live in? I’m in Oregon– it’s freezing! haha

    Your muffins also look delicious! Perfect food for this time of the year. Hope that your New Year is full of blessings!!

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