Ack! Last-minute School Bake Sale! Resolution to lay off the muffins fails! Mommy goes into a tailspin!
OK, not really so much with the tailspin part — but there WAS a last-minute school bake sale today, which of course I wanted to contribute to — and it DID force me, at least momentarily, to break my resolution to go a little easier on the muffin-baking in our house. When confronted with a desperation baking assignment, I always want to go for the item that is 1) quickest; 2) easiest; 3) least messy; and 4) most impressive, given the limitations provided by the first three criteria. Also, it goes without saying that whatever I make has to be something for which I already have every single ingredient — no last-minute shopping insanity for this Mommy, thank you very much. I’ve gone that route too many times to consider it a truly good idea.
So last night, I had to ponder the contents of my kitchen and come up with a game plan. Cookies are easy, but in reality, I find muffins and quick breads even easier, especially when it comes to the clean-up. One muffin tin or loaf pan is simpler to wash than a parade of cookie sheets, and takes up less space in the drying rack. (And if I’d had enough muffin liners in the house, it would REALLY have made my life easier!) I also figured that since the bake sale table would be set up during drop-off time today and tomorrow, muffins might be more instantly appealing to the other parents than cookies.
With muffins on my mind, I only had to ponder what KIND. What to put in them? What flavors would be appealing? And what did I actually have on hand? The instant and obvious answer, as I looked around the kitchen, was…apples. Apples, apples, and more apples. We’ve been making applesauce and apple butter and, for last night’s breakfast-for-dinner menu, apple-raisin oatmeal crisp. I’m putting apples in the skillet pork with red cabbage for tonight’s dinner and have been eating apples with peanut butter for quick lunches on the go. More than a week after our apple-picking excursion, there are still two reusable shopping bags, each slightly over half-full of apples, next to my prep counter.
There was also a big bowl (the one affectionately referred to as “Big-A*$ Blue Bowl” by me and J.), still nearly half-full of homemade apple butter, in the fridge. Time to take care of some of that sticky goodness, if for no other reason than to be able to transfer the remaining apple butter to a smaller container and clear out a little fridge space. Et voila — a wave of my magic wand, and Apple Butter Muffins with Cinnamon Glaze were born.
Here’s the thing: I knew, because this always happens when I sort of casually throw together a muffin recipe off the top of my head, that there would be more than a dozen muffins. I also knew that there was no way J. or I would be able to resist trying one…AND I knew that, responsible parenting from the weight-management perspective or not, I was going to let the boys try them, too. But as I mentally shook my fist at the bake sale, smelling the cinnamon-spice aroma wafting from the oven, whisking together the glaze that would make these particular muffins extra-special and therefore more bake sale worthy than they would be if unadorned with a glossy surface of spicy sweetness, I realized that the bake sale was the perfect opportunity to test a great recipe without having to feed the whole thing to my family.
You’d think that would have occurred to me right away, but no — I was a little slow on the uptake. In fact, it was only as I scooped and filled the muffin tins that the light bulb started to dimly appear. I filled the tins as generously as I could to avoid having too many odd extras (it seemed weird to me, probably because of my kitchen OCD, to donate more than 12 or fewer than 18 muffins; 15, for example, would have bothered me tremendously). As it turned out, I had exactly enough batter, with my heavy handed filling, to make 16 muffins. A dozen for the bake sale, and one for each of the members of the family. Perfect. We could each sample one muffin, give the rest away, and I wouldn’t have to be concerned that L. was eating too many baked goods.
As it turned out, the muffins were awesome — but L. didn’t like them, so I didn’t have to worry either way. He wasn’t crazy about the glaze (which J. and I both thought was the best part!). L. would have eaten the muffin part by itself, but since the glaze had dripped down all over the sides and even the bottom of his muffin, it was too much trouble to avoid it, so he simply handed the whole thing back to me and said “Mommy, you eat this. I’ll just have my applesauce,” then happily sat at the breakfast table with a cup of applesauce and a glass of milk. I was dumbfounded. However, it’s good to know that if I DID want to treat him to apple butter muffins in the future, I could dispense with the least-healthy part of the recipe.
Sigh. Kids. You never can tell what they’ll like from day to day. I mean, this is a child who had such difficulty deciding between applesauce, orange slices, and butternut squash soup for his lunch (I told him to pick two) that he begged to have all three; it was almost as if he didn’t realize that he was loading his lunchbox with nothing but produce, alongside the herb-roasted turkey and cheese rollups I’d made for him. Yet the sugar-bomb glaze on a muffin turned him off. I guess I’ll count my blessings and just be happy that I had a good excuse to try out a new recipe, and an even better excuse to rid myself of any Mommy guilt I might have been putting myself through. Bless you, Bake Sale.