Side Dish: Foolproof muffins are this easy _lowres


I can’t pass up a new cookbook by Jean Anderson. With her background in food chemistry, I know the book will include plenty of useful information and its recipes will always work. Her latest cookbook is no exception.

Anderson has had lots of experience baking muffins, the subject of her latest book. She was only about 4 years old when her mother taught her how to make muffins. And, in “Mad for Muffins: 70 Amazing Muffin Recipes from Savory to Sweet” Anderson offers some of the “entry-level” recipes she learned in her mother’s kitchen.

But, as she writes in the book’s introduction, she also has created easy, foolproof muffin recipes that capture the unusual flavors she discovered on travels throughout the world.

She also has reduced as much as possible the amount of sugar often found in muffins. She asks, “Have you noticed that ‘muffin’ has become a euphemism for ‘cupcake’?” However, to satisfy her readers’ sweet tooth, Anderson does offer sweeter muffins, what she calls “party pleasers,” in one of the book’s seven chapters.

“Mad for Muffins” opens with information on the basic methods of mixing and reheating muffins; tips on ingredients and measuring; and equivalents.

Among its recipes are variations on basic muffins, plus corn muffins, whole-grain muffins, and fruit and/or nut muffins. There’s even a chapter on spreads and toppings and a sources listing.

Anyone who wants to learn how to bake a perfect muffin every time will enjoy this cookbook.

Cookbook signing

Kay Ewing will be signing copies of her fourth cookbook, “Kay Ewing’s Cooking School Cookbook … The Final Course,” at The Royal Standard, 16016 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Samples will be served.

Copies of two of her earlier books, “A Second Course” and “A Third Helping” also will be available.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s food editor. Her email address is

Fresh Pear-Pecan Muffins

Makes about 1 dozen. Recipe is excerpted from “MAD FOR MUFFINS,” © 2014 by Jean Anderson. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. Anderson says to choose pears with plenty of flavor to make these muffins. She suggests dead-ripe Boscs; second choice, Comices. She says Bartletts are less flavorful when cooked.

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsps. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup moderately coarsely chopped pecans

1 (8-oz.) carton (1 cup) sour cream

1/4 cup milk

2 large eggs

1 cup finely diced peeled and cored pears (about 2 small or 1 large)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease 12 standard-size muffin pans cups or spritz with nonstick cooking spray or, if you prefer, insert a crinkly muffin liner into each cup. Set pans aside.

2. Combine first five ingredients (flour through salt) in medium mixing bowl. Add pecans, toss well, then make well in center of dry ingredients and set aside.

3. Whisk sour cream, milk and eggs in small bowl until smooth, then mix in pears. Pour into well in dry ingredients, and stir only enough to combine — specks of flour should be visible in batter.

4. Spoon batter into muffin pans, dividing amount equally — each muffin pan cup will be approximately two-thirds full, though occasionally a bit more or a bit less.

5. Slide onto middle oven shelf and bake 20 to 25 minutes until muffins have risen and their tops are nicely rounded and evenly browned.

6. Serve oven-hot with plenty of unsalted butter.