Pear and Poppy-Seed Muffins

Sunday morning. I’d slept a kingly, dreamless sleep — the sort that, if assigned a color, would be a velvet navy — and woke early to the full spring sun. I had a tour set for the afternoon, but the morning was mine to spend as I liked. I considered lazing in bed; I hit snooze a few times before rolling my carcass into being. Motivated by the weather (gorgeous), my sweet tooth (persistent), and an open quart of buttermilk (soon-to-expire), I put my laziness on hold and baked muffins.Not long ago, as Alex and I wandered the late-evening aisles at Safeway, I picked up a jar of poppy seeds. I had no real plan for the them, but poppy seeds don’t require a predetermined course of action; they’re a good thing to have around. Aside from Mohnschnecken* and lemon poppy-seed muffins, I couldn’t think of a recipe that called on poppy seeds as a main ingredient. (OK, that’s a lie: I recalled a citrus poppy-seed vinaigrette my mom made when I was a wee one, but said vinaigrette is a condiment rather than a main or dessert so it was excluded from my mental list.)So I let my cravings dictate my direction. I’ve had pears on the brain for a stretch, and pear poppy-seed bread pervaded my thoughtstream. Google yielded some decent results for my search, and I found this recipe for Pear Poppy-Seed Loaf from Living Tastefully.

I baked a proper loaf last week, and it was good, not great. The flavors were solid — the bread wasn’t too sweet and was heavy on the seeds, per my preference — but the chunks of pear called for in the recipe sunk to the bottom of the pan, yielding a loaf with fruit on the bottom. Meh! 

This time around, I made a few mods:

  • Instead of using chunks, I mashed the pear. (Fortunately, I had one pear leftover from last week’s baking session, and the lit’l dude was plllllllllenty ripe/easy to mash.) I used the same amount (1 c.) called for in the original recipe and added the mush to the wet ingredients.
  • Rather than baking a loaf, I made muffins (doi). A few bonuses here: muffins eliminate the need to, you know, get out a cutting board and SLICE when you want a snack, and muffins also require only half the cooking time of a loaf. #score #timemanagement
  • I added about half a teaspoon of Ceylon cinnamon. Couldn’t detect it in the final product, but I was comforted knowing it was there.

My verdict? Muffins all the way, baby. Using pear mash instead of chunks increased the lightness and moistness of the bread; true, the pear flavor was more diffuse, but the texture was loads better. In this instance, a mellower flavor was a trade I was willing to make for an airier crumb.

Yep: yesterday was a Total Baking Success. I’ve got muffins in the freezer, muffins in the fridge, muffins on my mind(!) If I can make it through this workday, I am going to eat the hell out of a buttered muffin served with some mint tea.


*My all-time favorite pastry, and one I  haven’t been able to locate in the U.S.


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