On the road again! Traveled to Chicago, Illinois and SE Wisconsin over the holidays, visiting family. Wonderful time. And, while I didn’t bake bread over these past few days, I did learn a couple of lessons about baking.
First, blue agave is a great white sugar substitute in breads; however, this week I did find a situation where it doesn’t work that well: with pumpkin muffins. I made pumpkin muffins and substituted blue agave for the white sugar, but because of the moisture content on the pumpkin (canned) along with the viscous state of the blue agave, there was too much moisture for the muffins. I had to bake them almost twice as long as the normal baking time, and even then they were quite dense – very little crumb. I was so unhappy with the results of the muffins that I didn’t really encourage anyone to eat them. Ron tried one and, good fellow that he is, found it to be eatable. I haven’t thrown the muffins out, but I must admit, I haven’t had the heart to eat one yet, either! Just too much moisture for the amount of flour involved.
One possible solution (besides using more white sugar) would be to squeeze out as much of the pumpkin’s moisture as possible. This can be done by spreading the pumpkin puree over several layers of paper hand towels, cover with a similar number of paper hand towel layers and gently press – pulling the moisture into the paper towels. With a dryer pumpkin puree, it might be possible to use only blue agave as a sweetener in the muffins.
Second, my daughter wanted a Dixie pie, which is a kind of chocolate pecan pie. I couldn’t find a recipe so I made one up using a couple of different pie recipes from Farm Journal’s Homemade Pies, Cookies & Bread (pages 137-138).
Unbaked deep dish pie shell
6 oz of mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels
½ cup of heavy cream
½ tsp vanilla
Pecan pie filling:
4 extra large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup dark corn syrup
½ cup mild molasses
3 Tbl melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1+ cup pecan halves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Melt chocolate morsels in microwave
Add heavy cream and vanilla; mix well.
Spread in bottom of pie pan.
Beat eggs in large bowl.
Add sugar, salt, syrup, and molasses, mixing well.
Gradually add cooled melted butter, vanilla, and pecan halves.
Gently spread over chocolate mixture in pie pan.
Place in oven and immediately reduce temperature to 325 degrees.
Bake 60 minutes or more.
Cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
RESULTS: The chocolate in the pie was a bit runny, but that was no problem. My Wisconsin cousin said that although she didn’t like pecan pie she really liked this one – and ate two slices to prove it! Okay, so the muffins could have been better, but the pie was fantastic!
Lesson learned: go ahead and experiment – Life is a learning process anyway, don’t limit yourself through fear of failure.