A Tale of Two Muffins - Even Better Than the Past
40 years ago, I had the best muffin in the world. It was a cheddar cheese muffin from a little shop in downtown Toronto at the train station. I was with my mother on a Saturday, and she'd brought me to her work so that she could do some extra work over the weekend. This happened again a half dozen times, and each time I got one of those cheddar cheese muffins.
The shop was called Mmmuffins, a Canadian chain that I'm not sure exists anymore or has for some time. I moved to the USA decades ago, and there was never anything like it here.
I attempted to remake the muffins 7 or 8 years ago using first yellow box cake mix and cheddar cheese...too sweet and too gummy, and next cornmeal and cheddar cheese...to gritty and missing a certain flavor.
Last week, I thought of them again.
I googled, and a lady had posted that she'd figured out the recipe. It included Kraft Mac and Cheese powdered cheese, a half packet from one of the dinners, garlic, and buttermilk. She said they were identical, so I got the exact ingredients and made them.
OK, no insult to her, but they did not taste like Mmmuffins. They tasted like mac and cheese in a muffin.
I thought about what was in them, and thought maybe I'll try a modification based on what I've learned about baking in the past couple decades.
I made them again, with half the cheese from her recipe. No garlic. No Mac and Cheese powdered cheese, and I also added a teaspoon of cardamom, more sugar and some brown sugar, and baking powder in addition to the baking soda.
I baked them and let me tell you. These were not identical to Mmmuffins.
They were even better.
I shared them with friends and neighbors, and they disappeared quickly.
Now, even if I had the exact recipe from the shop, I would make these ones again instead.
Without that nice lady's recipe, I wouldn't have thought of using buttermilk. THAT was the "missing" flavor I couldn't identify when I tried to make them 7 or 8 years ago.
Without ever trying them when I was 9, I wouldn't have known they existed.
Without my own baking experience, I wouldn't have thought to modify the recipe the nice lady created and posted, nor would I have known what things do and how things taste and what to modify at all.
Now, this isn't just about muffins.
In life, you may have had something really pure decades ago. You may have had pure trust, love, a belief in yourself.
You may have lost it somehow along the way.
A person may have then came along in your life and reawakened what you thought was the exact thing you forgot you even had in you.
But it wasn't. Through accident or intention, it seemed like a "mistake."
If at that point, you don't realize what you have in you, you may stay stuck on sadness and that mistake for the rest of your life.
But if you instead lean on your own wisdom and experience, you can move forward.
Trust yourself. Love yourself. Believe in yourself.
Know what to do and what not to do based on all the wisdom you've gained over the years. That wisdom all had purpose. Even learning from the "mistakes."
You're going to move forward to something beautiful, wonderful, and amazing. Something that couldn't exist in the form, at the time, and with the depth that it will if you hadn't have lived through every single experience you lived through along the way.
It won't be exactly like it was before.
It will be so much better than that.
- Doe Zantamata
Here is the recipe if you'd like to try it!
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 measured cup shredded cheddar (approx 4 oz weight), plus more to sprinkle on top
1.5 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
Olive oil spray or cooking spray for the muffin tins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray muffin tin with olive oil spray or cooking oil spray
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cardamom. Add in shredded cheese and mix.
In a second bowl, mix together melted coconut oil, melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla extract, and the eggs.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined.
Drop into the muffin cups (no papers) with an ice cream scoop and fill them near to the top. They will bake over so make sure your entire pan is sprayed, not just the cups. Sprinkle some more shredded cheddar on top of each muffin, approximately 1 tablespoon or less, depending on how much you love cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes and let cool for a minute or two in the pan before removing and setting on a plate to cool completely.
Makes one dozen big muffins.
Don't substitute the buttermilk. Trust me. It's worth it.