English Muffin Toasting Bread

February 1, 2019

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Here it is…February already. And tomorrow, my favourite varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, will be stepping out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and letting everyone know if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or if instead Spring is on the way. So far this Winter we’ve had a couple of pretty snows, but really it has been pretty mild overall…you know aside from that crazy Polar Vortex that hit us Wednesday night. The Husband and I were prepared for it though. We’ve got a little holiday coming up soon where we are headed somewhere much colder than our usual Iceland visits. Stay tuned for that! Needless to say, we love winter, so I’ve gotta admit, I’m hoping that the little Punxsutawney critter sees his shadow!

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One extraordinary rodent!

Phil & all the folks up in Punxsutawney aren’t the only ones celebrating now. February 1st, which falls half way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, also marks the festivals of Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day and Candlemas, all of which are associated with fertility, fire, purification and weather divination. Quite an auspicious time of year! I’m very happy to be marking an event today as well. February 1st just happens to be the 8th year anniversary of  the my cooking blog! Yup… Eight years ago today I posted my first recipe. It was for Cream Tea Scones with Currants.

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Last year I was negligent and didn’t post anything at all on February 1st. I do have a wee bit of an excuse though. I was off on an incredible holiday in Scotland. I just posted about the first leg of our trip in Glasgow and am working on writing up the second leg now. But a couple of years prior, I did share one of my favorite recipes with you: Model Bakery’s English Muffins:

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And let me take this opportunity to remind you of some of the other “anniversary edition” recipes I have shared. There was the one for those completely decadent  Banana Rum Muffins:

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That jaw-dropping, over the top Crack Pie:

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And who can forget that magical “caviar of the South” –  Pasture’s Pimento Cheese:

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But let me get back to today’s recipe: English Muffin Toasting Bread! I don’t know about you, but I love English Muffins. As I mentioned, one of my all time favorite recipes is the Model Bakery’s English Muffins.

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Those muffins bake up wonderfully fluffy and light as a cloud, yet are substantial enough to hold up to any breakfast sandwich you might send their way. The reason I don’t have a constant supply of those Muffins here in this house is that although the recipe isn’t particularly difficult to make, it does involve several steps and dough rising times. In fact, you have to be organized to make a biga the day prior to baking. I’d love to say that I am that organized and have everything all scheduled out, but I’m afraid it isn’t so. That was why I was so delighted to find King Arthur Flour’s recipe for English Muffin Toasting Bread.

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This bread is ridiculously easy to make. You literally just mix it all up, slap it in the pan for about a 1 hour rise and then pop it in the oven. You heard me right…a yeast bread that requires no endless kneading and not one bit of fiddly shaping. The resulting bread makes the perfect toast and has a rough craggy texture very reminiscent of English Muffins. Indeed, it’s just the perfect vehicle for lashings of salty butter and sweet fruity jam.

img_7235Not to mention it can stand up to any egg sandwich you want to throw its way.  Now in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that if I could wave a magic wand and have either the English Muffin Toasting Bread or one of the Model Bakery’s English Muffins appear with a poof in front of me, I would probably go for the actual English Muffin. But I must have slept through the Breakfast Bread conjuring class at Hogwarts and I can’t seem to pull that spell off no matter how hard I try. So the Model Bakery’s Muffins will likely remain my “flashy special occasion kind of thing”. Whereas the English Muffin Toasting Bread is my “roll out of bed and whip something really yummy together in a flash” kind of thing. Believe me, you’ll be amazed how easy this bread is to make. It’s a good thing too because as quickly as folks will devour a loaf, you’ll be making another before you know it. Get to baking!

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English Muffin Toasting Bread

  • Servings: 1 loaf bread
  • Difficulty: super easy!
  • Print

recipe from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

  • 361 grams (3 cups) All-purpose Flour
  • 14 grams (1 Tablespoon) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 227 grams (1 cup) milk
  • 57 grams (1/4 cup) water
  • 25 grams (2 Tablespoons) vegetable oil or olive oil
  • cornmeal to sprinkle in pan

Directions:

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and instant yeast in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer.

Combine the milk, water, and oil in a separate, microwave-safe bowl, and heat to between 120°F and 130°F. Be sure to stir the liquid well before measuring its temperature; you want an accurate reading. If you don’t have a thermometer, the liquid will feel quite hot (hotter than lukewarm), but not so hot that it would be uncomfortable as bath water.

Pour the hot liquid over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl.

Using an electric beater, or stand mixer with beater attachment, beat at high-speed for 1 minute; the dough will be smooth and very soft. If you don’t have an electric mixer, beat by hand for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and starting to become elastic.

Lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, and sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal.

Scoop the soft dough into the pan, leveling it in the pan as much as possible.

Cover the pan, and let the dough rise till it’s just barely crowned over the rim of the pan. When you look at the rim of the pan from eye level, you should see the dough, but it shouldn’t be more than, say, 1/4″ over the rim. This will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour, if you heated the liquid to the correct temperature and your kitchen isn’t very cold. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Remove the cover, and bake the bread for 22 to 27 minutes, till it’s golden brown and its interior temperature is 190°F.

Remove the bread from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

Enjoy!

English Muffin Toasting Bread brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for English Muffin Toasting Bread:

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Series 5 Qt. Stand Mixer

SAF Instant Yeast

Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks

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Crack Pie

February 1, 2015

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I’m so excited! Tomorrow my favourite varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, will be stepping out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and letting everyone know if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or if perhaps Spring is one the way. Groundhog Day is nigh! The chances that he will see his shadow tomorrow in Pennsylvania, thus heralding the arrival of Spring, are not favourable. There is a big snow event happening up in that neck of the woods today and tomorrow. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what he has to say. Phil has been correct in his prognostications for the past two winters!

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One extraordinary rodent!

Phil & all the folks up in Punxsutawney aren’t the only folks celebrating now. February 1st, which falls half way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, also marks the festivals of Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day and Candlemas, all of which are associated with fertility, fire, purification and weather divination. Quite an auspicious time of year! I’m very happy to be marking an event today as well. February 1st just happens to be the 4th year anniversary of  the my cooking blog! Yup… Four years ago today I posted my first recipe. It was for Cream Tea Scones with Currants.

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I had been blogging for a little while at that point, but not about food. I originally started this blog as a way to get information out to folks who were planning to travel to Ireland to attend our wedding. I found out that I actually liked to blog and then it eventually morphed into the more food centric version that you see today. It was difficult to choose which recipe I wanted to share with you for this anniversary edition, but I ultimately decided that it just had to be Crack Pie. Maybe because I must be on crack to continue trying to publish 2 times a week and for 17 days straight St. Patrick’s Day blogapolooza starting March 1st… But also because Crack Pie is definitely one of those special occasion kind of desserts.

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So I imagine you might be wondering, possibly with some trepidation, what is Crack Pie? Crack is definitely one of those words that just jumps out at you when you come across it huh? I remember one such occasion back when I was in college in Ireland. I hadn’t been there very long and was hanging out with some new-found friends in a local pub. One fellow was trying to convince me to come along with him to a house party nearby. When I hesitated a bit, he said “Ah come on, you should. They’ll be great crack there.” Uhhhh…excuse me?!! Well that is what I heard anyway. I soon learned (but not soon enough to attend said party) that I had misheard him. What he actually said was not “crack” but “craic” Irish for good times or fun, but unfortunately pronounced exactly the same way…. Kind of changes your whole imagery of the party huh? But wait, back to that pie….really? You haven’t heard of Crack Pie?!!

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Come on! That particular confection has a cult following! Crack Pie, invented by Chef Christina Tosi, is one of the top-selling treats at the famous Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC. And when I say top-selling, just listen to this. a whole pie sells for $44. They sell 60 -90 Crack Pies every day or two! Hmmm…sounds like quite a few folks have developed a bit of a habit. Yup….if you like sweet…no wait a second….SWEET desserts, this rich, salty/sweet pie is insanely addictive! And I’m sure at this point you just want me to tell you what it is. Well, you can read the list of ingredients below, but that doesn’t really help and describing the taste is difficult. In consistency, it is like a Chess Pie or like a pecan pie, without the pecans, but the flavour is unique. The crust is made from crumbled oatmeal cookie

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and the filling is gooey, buttery, bliss that tastes somewhat reminiscent of  that Corn Pop cereal you used to eat as a kid. Remember this stuff?!!

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This is due to a secret, well not so secret, ingredient. Strangely adaptations of the recipe often leave it out. But more on this later.

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Now the version of Crack Pie that I have here is from Christina Tosi herself.  I felt it was important to make it as closely as I could to the real deal Crack Pie. I will say this does present a couple of challenges. The first is that her recipe, unlike some other versions which have been adapted, is for two pies. That meant I did indeed make two of those babies. I didn’t try to half the recipe and you shouldn’t either. Part of what makes Crack Pie Crack Pie is that it spends some quality time in the freezer. Chef Tosi claims that it is essential to achieve the correct consistency. So I put both pies in the freezer and after we gobbled one down, it was great knowing that I had another just waiting for the perfect occasion to emerge. Another thing that Tosi’s Crack Pies have in them, that is missing from most of the clone recipes I found is the elusive corn powder.

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Corn powder is made from taking freeze-dried corn and simply grinding it up into a powder in your food processor. It not only acts as a binder but it also gives the pie its unique Corn Pop – like taste. Corn starch and corn flour are not good substitutes if you are trying for authentic. You can buy Corn Powder from the Momofuku Milk Bar or you can find freeze-dried corn at the ever so handy Amazon. I have an Amazon Prime membership and freeze-dried corn was delivered to my door on a Sunday, which I think is pretty dang amazing! So plan ahead if you want to make an authentic Crack Pie. And believe me….you do. Following the recipe, or should I say recipes, because like all Chef Tosi creations there is a recipe, within a recipe, within a recipe to master before you reach your final goal. But Oh…it is so worth it. One bite of that salty/sweet nirvana known as Crack Pie (hah! one bite….I should say “once you’ve come up for air” cause you will not stop at one bite…) and you’ll be convinced. So  go ahead and make this legendary confection. Your sweet tooth (or teeth) as the case may be, will thank you – once they get over that initial sugar ache!

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Crack Pie

  • Servings: Two 10 inch pies each serving 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Chef Christina Tosi at Momofuku Milk Bar or perhaps you should invest in the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook for even more yummy treats!

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe oat cookie
  • 15 g (1 tbs tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 g (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 55 g (4 tbs) butter, melted, or as needed
  • 1 recipe crack pie® filling
  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Pre heat the oven to 350°F.

Put the oat cookie, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse it on and off until the cookie is broken down into a wet sand. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can fake it till you make it and crumble the oat cookie diligently with your hands.)

Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the butter, and knead the butter and ground cookie mixture until moist enough to form into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ tablespoons) butter and knead it in.

Divide the oat crust evenly between 2 (9-inch) pie tins. Using your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the oat cookie crust firmly into each pie tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the tin are evenly covered. Use the pie shells immediately, or wrap well in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Put both pie shells on a sheet pan. divide the crack pie® filling evenly between the crusts; the filling should fill them three-quarters of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes only. The pies should be golden brown on top but will still be very jiggly. (I baked mine for about 20 minutes here)

Open the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Depending on your oven, it may take 5 minutes or longer for the oven to cool to the new temperature. Keep the pies in the oven during this process. When the oven reaches 325°F, close the door and bake the pies for 5 minutes longer. The pies should still be jiggly in the bull’s-eye center but not around the outer edges. If the filling is still too jiggly, leave the pies in the oven for an additional
5 minutes or so. (I don’t know what was up with my oven, or perhaps it was because I was using 9 inch pie tins rather than 10 inch ones, but I had to bake my pies about 30 more minutes before it was even remotely set. Don’t despair if this happens to you. Have patience. Some how I managed and my Crack Pies were fantastic! And finally, remember that the very center of the pie will still look jiggly when you take it out of the oven. You’ll be afraid that it isn’t done, but it is. Remember to over-cooketh a Crack Pie is a sin!)

Gently take the pan of crack pies® out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature. (You can speed up the cooling process by carefully transferring the pies to the fridge or freezer if you’re in a hurry.) Then freeze your pies for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to condense the filling for a dense final product—freezing is the signature technique and result of a perfectly executed crack pie®.

If not serving the pies right away, wrap well in plastic wrap. In the fridge, they will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month. Transfer the pie(s) from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost a minimum of 1 hour before you’re ready to get in there.

Serve your crack pie® cold! Decorate your pie(s) with confectioners’ sugar, either passing it through a fine sieve or dispatching pinches with your fingers.

Oat Cookie

Ingredients:

  • 115 g (8 tbs) butter, at room temperature
  • 75 g (1/3 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 40 g (3 tbs) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 80 g (1/2 cup) flour
  • 120 g (1 1/2 cups) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 0.5 g (1/8 tsp) baking powder
  • 0.25 g (pinch) baking soda
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) kosher salt
  • pam or other nonstick cooking spray (optional)

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. On low speed, add the egg yolk and increase the speed to medium­ high and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mixture is a pale white.

On low speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. mix for a minute, until your dough comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. The dough will be a slightly fluffy, fatty mixture in comparison to your average cookie dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line with parchment, or just line the pan with a silpat. Plop the cookie dough in the center of the pan and, with a spatula, spread it out until it is 1/4 inch thick. The dough won’t end up covering the entire pan; this is ok.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until it resembles an oatmeal cookie-caramelized on top and puffed slightly but set firmly. Cool completely before using. wrapped well in plastic, the oat cookie will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Crack Pie® Filling

You must use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to make this filling. It only takes a minute, but it makes all the difference in the homogenization and smooth, silky final product. I repeat: a hand whisk and a bowl or a granny hand mixer will not produce the same results. Also, keep the mixer on low speed through the entire mixing process. If you try to mix the filling on higher speed, you will incorporate too much air and your pie will not be dense and gooey-the essence of crack pie®.

This recipe makes the filling for two Crack Pies.

Ingredients:

  • 300 g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 180 g (3/4 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 20 g (1/4 cup) milk powder
  • 24 g (1/4 cup) corn powder
  • 6 g (1 1/2 tsp) kosher salt
  • 225 g (16 tbs) butter, melted
  • 160 g (3/4 cup) heavy cream
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract
  • 8 egg yolks**

Directions:

Combine the sugar, brown sugar, milk powder, corn powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until evenly blended.

Add the melted butter and paddle for 2 to 3 minutes until all the dry ingredients are moist.

Add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue mixing on low for 2 to 3 minutes until any white streaks from the cream have completely disap­peared into the mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Add the egg yolks, paddling them into the mixture just to combine; be careful not to aerate the mixture, but be certain the mixture is glossy and homogenous. mix on low speed until it is.

Use the filling right away, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

**note: It will be the death of your wildly dense pie filling if there is any bit of egg white in the mixture. I believe the easiest, and best, way to separate an egg is to do so in your hands. You may also use the two half-shells to separate the eggs, but the cracked shells can tear the yolk open, and you may not totally separate all the white. If you do this by hand,you can feel when you get every last bit of white away from the yolk. Remember to wash your hands under warm soapy water for 30 seconds or more before and after you handle raw eggs!

Enjoy!

Crack Pie® brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 


Banana Rum Muffins to celebrate my food blog’s 1st anniversary!

February 1, 2012

So wow! Today, February 1st marks not only Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day and Groundhog Day ( I hope the little critter doesn’t see his shadow, not that we’ve had much of a winter thus far), but also one year of blogging about food for me. The first recipe I published was Cream Tea Scones with Currants, which are fantastic if you have yet to give them a try.

Cream Tea Scones with Currants

I really didn’t know at the time that I was starting an actual food blog. I was really just into those scones and wanted to share. This blog started for me almost 3 years ago when my husband & I were planning our wedding, which took place in Ireland.

Cloghan Castle Ireland - Wedding Venue

Yup...no surprizes, it was raining!

We really just used it to easily get our wedding plans as well as travel tips out to our guests who were going to travel to attend. But it seems that now it has evolved into an honest to goodness food blog. In this 1st  year that I’ve been blogging about food, I’ve learned how to do some canning and have some great jams to show for it.

Strawberry Balsamic Jam

Vanilla Bourbon Blackberry Jam

Blueberry Lemon & Chili Jam

Drunken Granny Apple Butter

I’ve not only come across some delicious recipes, but I’ve also learned quite a bit about food styling and photography, so that I’m able to show them off appropriately. (Please see Runcible Eat’s Galleries on Foodgawker and Tastespotting) Not to mention, I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. Thanks to everyone who stops by from time to time to see what I’m cooking! I’m definitely looking forward to year number 2! What can my readers look forward to seeing? I’m hoping to update my site with some fun bells and whistles, like a print button for recipes and the ability to search my published recipes. I will definitely once again be posting a submission for Nutella Day, which happens on February 5th.

Nutella & Banana Stuffed Peanut Butter Ebelskivers - last year's entry

In the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, I will once again be cooking up a bunch of great, Irish inspired recipes. Here are last year’s offerings. All of the recipes for the items below can be found in Runcible Eats/ Recipes.

Cheese & Onion Pie

Irish Soda Bread

Shepherd's Pie

Beef & Guinness Pie

Irish Brown Bread

Drunken Irish Brownies

Curry Chips

Deep-Fried Snickers Bar

Gaelic Boxty

Celtic Pork Tart

Chranachan with Irish Butter Shortbread

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

And I have some great new recipes in store for everyone. Some family favourites like Jewish Apple Cake and Smith Island Cake. I will definitely be trying out more of Peter Reinhart’s bread. Some Bacon Jam is in the works and I’m sure a few more chili recipes will make an appearance. Where is all of this blogging leading to? I’m not certain. Perhaps one day, someone might even ask me to do a cookbook. My husband wants me to open a bakery…I’m not sure I’m on board with that, but am happy to keep making delicious dishes for my family and friends.

In celebration of this milestone, I thought I’d make my all-time favourite muffin, Banana Rum Muffins. My Mom would always make these muffins around Christmas and I just couldn’t wait! And then it occurred to me…I don’t have to wait. I can have them anytime of the year that I want!

These muffins are very moist and the banana flavour is quite promenent. I hate getting a banana bread that tastes as if a banana might have, at some time, been waved somewhere in its vicinity. You won’t get that here. You’ll know its a banana muffin. And then there is the sauce. That buttery, dark rum laden, syrupy sauce. Oh joy! While the muffins are still hot and in the muffin tin, you pour in slowly all over them. I even use a butter knife to pull the edges slightly away from the pan, so that the rum sauce will run down the sides of the muffin and pool in the bottom of the muffin wells. Then you just allow the muffins to sit an soak it all in for a bit. Once the sauce cools, it gives the muffin a slightly crispy sugary rum glaze. Pure bliss! How perfect for a celebration. Especially when paired with a good old bottle of Veuve Clicquot! Happy 1 year Anniversary to Runcible Eats!

Banana Rum Muffins

yield: 24 muffins

recipe from: My Mom

Ingredients:

For the muffins:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 Cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Rum Sauce:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 Cup dark rum
  • 1 Cup sugar

Directions:

For the Muffins:

Pre heat oven to 350°F

In medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add mashed bananas, eggs and vanilla. Mix well.

Add dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until the batter just comes together. Do not over mix!

Pour batter into muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes. If you wish to bake the batter in a 4×8 loaf pan, bake for 60 minutes.

For the Rum Sauce:

Place butter, rum and sugar in medium-sized sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir to combine.

Bring to boil for 5 minutes. Do not overcook.

Remove Banana Muffins from oven and set muffin pan on slightly larger cookie sheet. Pour Rum Sauce slowly over muffins just as they are removed from the oven. Let muffins stand for 5 minutes to soak up as much of the Rum Sauce as possible before removing them from the pan.

Enjoy!


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