But, it's the way I cook. So if you're here I'm just assuming that's what you like to read.
Take today for example. I had a roasted and peeled yam in the fridge. I had half a bag of fresh cranberries left over. I decided to make muffins.
Now, muffins are not rocket science. They are hard to render completely inedible, regardless of what you add, as long as you stick to some basic rules.
You need flour, baking powder, eggs, oil, and liquid, the rest is just details. I used to start with a recipe, and then alter it to work with what I have on hand. That helped me to get an idea of proportions. Now, I usually wing it with what I know.
Today, I started with 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, in a mixing bowl.
I washed the cranberries and put them in a saucepan with just enough water to cover them. I added a glop of sugar probably 2 TBSP and a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg. I let that boil just long enough for the berries to burst and then turned it off and set it aside.
I wanted a pretty dense grainy sort of breakfast muffin. So while the cranberries were boiling I added one cup of rolled oats and two handfuls of millet. (yes, I measure by the handful, it's very scientific.) Then I added 2 tsp of baking soda and 1/4 tsp of salt. (given how the muffins turned out I think next time I would add 1 tsp of baking soda, instead of the second tsp of baking powder. They were a bit more dense than I would like and the soda would hopefully fix that. Let me know :) Then I added a lot of ground ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I several shakes, lets guess 1 tsp each. Or more if you want.
Then I mashed up the yam and added it to the flour mixture along with the cranberry sauce. Then I added two eggs. And then I added 1/4 cup molasses for sweetening, and 1 tbsp of oil.
It was still a bit too dry so I added 1/2 cup of yogurt as well, 1/4 cup at a time until it was right.
I baked them at 325 for about half an hour. And they were all gone less than a hour later.
This recipe made 1 dozen large muffins.
And that my friends is how to bake on the fly. If you've made muffins once or twice you know what the batter should look like. Just make sure you have:
- a rising agent-Baking powder or soda, enough for the amount you have. My rule of thumb is one tsp per cup of flour or dried stuff, minimum.
- A binding agent-the gluten in flour is binding to an extent, but with so much other stuff in it as well you need another binding agent, in this case, the eggs.
- Oil-so the muffins aren't too dry. Again, because of the mashed yam in this I didn't need as much oil because the yam was moist enough.
- Seasoning of some sort-salt, spices, vanilla extract, it depends on what else is in your muffin.
- Sweetener-you can use sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses, agave nectar, apple sauce, etc. You will adjust the amount of dry or wet ingredients depending on whether your sweetener is dry or wet. If it's dry, like sugar, you will need more liquid. If it's wet, you will need less of another type of liquid.
- Some sort of liquid to get things to the right consistency. You could use water, if you want, but that's just boring. I like to use milk, blended fruit, yogurt, buttermilk (Really fluffy muffins with buttermilk) etc. Or you can add powdered milk to the dry ingredient and just add water for a cheaper alternative to milk.