Granulated sugar (Recipe: peach vanilla muffins)
Most people don't consider granulated sugar a seasonal food.
Tomatoes, corn, asparagus? Yes, seasonal.
Sugar? Not so much. In my kitchen, a five-pound bag can last for many months, or for just a couple of days, depending on the time of year.
I am not a year-round baker; in fact, I call myself a bake-o-phobe. Once or twice a year, when I host cookies-for-donation events for Drop In & Decorate, I bake. For the rest of the year, when it comes to sugar, I sprinkle a teaspoon here and there in spaghetti sauce or stir-fries, or on strawberries with a bit of balsamic vinegar.
Baking season can come at any time, however, and without warning. So I'm always prepared with sugar in the pantry.
What is granulated sugar?
Cane or beet sugar that has been processed, allowed to crystallize, and then dried, so that the crystals do not clump together.
How/where to store:
On the pantry shelf, in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
More facts about granulated sugar, and ingredient photos, in The Perfect Pantry:
Granulated sugar (Recipe: sugar cookies)
Peach vanilla muffins
Good things definitely come in threes. On a visit to New York last week, I found cute paper liners for my muffin-top pan at Bowery Kitchen in Chelsea Market. Then, the next day, fortune (okay, the postman) delivered Tahitian vanilla paste (from my Cousin Martin), and my potter friend Bob called, begging me to come and pick peaches. All of the serendipity came together in this recipe, adapted from 1001 Muffins, by Gregg R. Gillespie, and in these muffins. You need very ripe peaches to bring out the maximum sweetness. Makes 12 muffin tops or regular-size muffins.
1 cup chopped ripe peaches
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose or white whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 extra-large egg
1 cup milk (I use skim milk)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Scant 1/4 tsp vanilla paste
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin or two muffin-top pans with paper liners, or spray with baking spray. Set aside.
Place the chopped peaches in a small bowl with the lemon juice and 1 Tbsp of the sugar. Toss well, and set aside to macerate while you prepare the batter.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
In another large bowl, beat the egg with a whisk until it turns light yellow and begins to thicken a bit. Whisk in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla paste, until the ingredients are well combined.
Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, and with a rubber spatula fold just until the dry ingredients are moist (don't overmix, or you'll end up with tough muffins, and nobody likes tough muffins!).
Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups; I use an ice cream scoop with a release (called a disher) to make it easy. Bake 16-17 minutes for muffin tops, 22 minutes for regular muffins. Cool in the muffin pan for 5 minutes, then transfer muffins to a wire rack.
Serve warm, with yogurt, for breakfast, or cool the muffins completely and serve with sweet butter and jam at tea time.
Other recipes that use sugar:
Sugar donut muffins, from Baking Bites
Sugar puffs, from Smitten Kitchen
Easy homemade pear butter, from Farmgirl Fare
Roti canai, from Rasa Malaysia
Heath Bar chocolate and toffee sugar cookies, from Cookin' Canuck