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Hazelnut Muffins

Remember how much I love Kim Boyce? Last weekend I fell in love, all over again, with Good to the Grain [1] . It was prompted by an article I read about Kim’s new Portland bakery, Bakeshop [2]. Lamenting the fact that I couldn’t go visit the bakery right then, I pulled Good to the Grain off of the shelf. As usual, I wanted to make everything in the book.

I decided to try the apple and graham coffee cake, but realized I was out of graham flour. Quelle Horreur! I wrote to Kim for help (the perks of being a food writer?). She offered some good suggestions, but I stopped myself before trying any of them. I could tell that she wanted me to make the cake with graham flour. And with good reason! The recipes in her book are so perfectly formulated that you want to make each one exactly as intended to see what Kim had in mind.

I decided to make the hazelnut muffins.

I was not surprised that they are awesome. Add them to the long list of recipes that I love from Good to the Grain. Eaten warm from the oven, spread with a little raspberry jam, they made me a very happy man. Like many recipes made with whole grains, these really are best on the day you make them. The baked goods get a little heavy as they sit. Not to say that I didn’t happily eat a muffin the next day, I did. But if you are making these to share, make them with friends and gobble them up while they are still warm. You’ll be really happy you did.

A good tip, from Kim, on muffin baking: If you use only every other muffin cup, you’ll get nicer domes on the muffins. Gives them a little space and allows heat to circulate better. It really works! Although, it means you need two muffin tins. Worth it!

Hazelnut Muffins (from Good to the Grain [1] by Kim Boyce)

Finish:

Dry Mix:

Wet Mix:

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease muffin tins (1/3-cup capacity) with butter.

Place the butter, hazelnuts, and salt in a small pan and cook over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the edges of the nuts to turn golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat before the nuts get too brown, you don’t want them to burn. Pour the nuts and melted butter  into a bowl to cool down.

In a small bowl, stir together the finely chopped hazelnuts, sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. Set aside.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back  into the bowl any flour or other ingredients that remain in the sifter.

In a medium bowl, whisk the wet ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Pour the hazelnut butter over the dry ingredients, add the buttermilk mixture on top of that. Using a spatula, mix together the wet and dry ingredients.

Scoop the batter into 10 muffin cups, using a spoon or an ice cream scoop. The batter should be mounded above the edges of the cups. Sprinkle the hazelnut topping evenly over the batter, gently press it into the batter so that it adheres.

Bake for 22 to 26 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. The muffins are ready to come out when they smell nutty, the hazelnuts are toasted, and the bottoms are golden in color (twist one out of the pan to check). Remove the pan from the oven, twist each muffin out, and place it on its side in the cup to cool. This keeps the muffins nice and crunchy.

Serve warm from the oven.