Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tea and Pear Muffins

I've been big on muffins lately for breakfast- I have a slew of recipes in waiting that I can't wait to bake up and grab when I'm on the go.  These muffins were inspired by a recipe a while back on Apartment Therapy.  Muffins infused with aromatic tea and studded with dried fruit. I used dried bartlett pears and Russian Gold black tea.  

I also experimentec with flaxseed meal- you can use it to replace oil in recipies.  I replaced half the oil in the original recipe; as a result the muffins were halthier, but perhaps a bit gummy and dry in the long run, since oil is the secret to a moist muffin.  A nice sprinkling of turbinado sugar over the unbaked muffins added nice sweetness and crunch to the top. 

Tea and Pear Muffins
adapted from Apartment Therapy
about 18 muffins
1 heaping tablespoon loose leaf tea
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped dried pears
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons loose leaf tea, crushed fine in a processor or with a mortar and pestle (optional)
1/2 cup oil (or 1/4 c oil, 3/4 c flaxseed meal)
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest from 1/2 lemon
Heat the oven to 400°F. Prepare two muffin pans with liners or just set out 18 souffle cups like we did.
Boil a kettle of water. Pour 1/4 cup of boiling water over the tea leaves in a small saucepan. Let them steep for three minutes, then add the milk and simmer for about 10 minutes. Pour more boiling water over the dried pear and let them soften while the tea is steeping.
Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients, including the crushed tea leaves. In a separate bowl beat the oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla and lemon zest. (if using flaxseed, add it to the dry ingredients) Take the tea milk off the heat and strain. Mix the milk in with the other wet ingredients. Then drain off all the water from the pear;  they should be very soft and spongy. Mix them into the wet ingredients.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold together just until combined. Using a big tablespoon (the utensil, not the measuring spoon) drop heaping spoonfuls into the muffin cups. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes then lower the heat to 325°F and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
Let cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before eating.

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