Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Peach and Oatmeal Loaf & Muffins

Peach and Oatmeal Loaf & Muffins
Home Cooking

There are certain descriptions you see in a menu or recipe that makes you think 'I want that'. I find that for me, there are some words that will always attract me whilst other phrases will literally be a flavor of the month.

Once upon a time, I was so astounded to find duck on Western menus that I would always order the duck dish. When I'm going to restaurants nowadays, I feel inclined to order unusual things that I haven't tried before. Weird combinations of sweet and savory - for instance, chocolate sauce on pork or coffee sauce on lamb... these kinds of descriptions definitely grab my attention.

As for cooking, I'm partial to recipes that mention ingredients like yogurt and sour cream - especially when coupled with a sharply sweet main flavor (such as chocolate or honey). I have an instant soft spot for anything that mentions the words 'pistachio' or 'pumpkin'.

More recently, you may have noticed my new-found obsession in all things Summer. This includes rediscovering my love for stone fruit (I'm picky though; only white, soft-fleshed peaches and nectarines push the right buttons). The Summer of 08-09 also marked a realization that I do in fact like fresh sweet cherries. It's the glace cherries that I find disgusting.

With this in mind, a new breed of recipes have started oozing appeal. One that I was instantly interested in was the peach and oatmeal loaf. On one hand, I had never tried anything exactly like this so I didn't have an idea about the resultant product. On the other hand, that didn't stop me from thinking. I imagined a moist loaf with some of that distinct oat chewiness that makes oats 'bland' yet so addictive.
I had to try it for myself and find out. Luckily (or, not so luckily - depending on your perspective), I bought a bucket of peaches that turned out to be crunchy rather than soft. Charlie likes crunchy peaches but to me, they are almost inedible. They were thus perfect for use in this recipe because if the peaches had been soft, I would have finished them off raw. You'll find that my liking for all things yogurt has also been happily incorporated into this recipe.The following recipe is originally from King Arthur's Whole Grain Baking book but I found it on this website. As per my usual method, I halved the recipe (originally intended to bake a whole loaf) and instead, made a mini-loaf + 4 muffins.

Peach and Oatmeal Loaf
Makes approx 1 mini loaf and 4 muffins. Double to make full loaf

  • 1 cup chopped peaches (small 1cm cube pieces), drained
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp white flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Small pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not the quick cook variety)
  • 1 large egg (min weight 59g)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil (I just half filled the 1/4 measuring cup)
  • Few drops of vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease and lightly flour your loaf pans. If you're making muffins too, line your tray with patty cases.
2. Stir together: flours, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in large bowl till uniformly combined.
3. Add the oats and peaches; stir till the peaches are well coated.4. Beat together the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract in a small bowl.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until it is just evenly moistened.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan/s. I also placed some wedges of peach on top of the batter and sunk them in slightly for decoration.7. Bake for 50min - 1hr (for the loaf) and around 30min for the muffins. An inserted skewer should come out clean when it is done. If you find that the skewer is not clean but the top is browning, just cover the pan/s with foil, turn down the heat by 10 degrees and continue baking until the loaf is ready.
8. Cool in pan for 15min and then turn onto a rack to cool completely.
I took a bite of one of my muffins and was slightly disappointed. The mix seemed too bland and dry. In the spur of the moment, I whipped up a yogurt glaze. I didn't measure out exact quantities but basically used equal parts cream cheese to unsweetened natural yogurt and then sifted in icing sugar until it was just opaque. I drizzled this mix over my muffins and loaf and placed them into the fridge to set the icing.

Like banana bread, I imagined this fruit loaf to taste best served warm. I think I was very wrong to assume that. My second taste of the muffins was a huge surprise.

At 3am in the morning, when I was positively starving to death, I talked myself into a midnight snack. I took 1 glazed muffin from the fridge and was prepared to wait for it to warm to room temperature before eating. Impatience got the better of me and before I knew it, I was scoffing the whole thing down. It was delicious. Very breakfasty (I guess that's due to the oats) and infinitely better tasting when chilled.

Perhaps this is another loaf that improves in texture with time but I swear that on second attempt, the muffin was a lot more moist and flavorsome. The peach chunks inside were soft, cold and sweet - just wonderful in contrast to the chewy oat. I also feel the glaze helped to bring out the flavors whilst also preventing the overall muffin from being dull and dry.
Texture shot of the muffin

Word of warning though, these babies are quite filling. I shamelessly went back to my fridge for seconds and was feeling full halfway through the second one.

Nonetheless, I did finish it...

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