Tips for small-batch baking

December 30, 2009|By Bev Bennett, Tribune Media Services

As part of a two-person household, you may be hesitant to do any baking.

Those 5-pound bags of flour are daunting, and if you use sugar by the teaspoon, not the cup, buying it in bulk can be overwhelming.

You can bake for two, but you may want to scale down your purchases. The standard advice is to buy larger sizes because you're paying less per cup. However, smaller packages take up less room in your cupboard and have a faster turnover.

Buy flour in 2-pound bags. If you bake infrequently, store the bag in the refrigerator (this is especially important for whole-wheat flour, which can turn rancid). You'll also find sugar in smaller amounts.

Baking powder and baking soda don't come in a wide range of sizes. Instead look on the packages for the freshness date. Pick the packages with the furthest out date.

Buy nuts and dried fruit in bulk and store in the freezer up to a year. Use what you need and save the rest for another recipe. Other typical baking ingredients, including eggs, butter and milk, are probably in your refrigerator right now.

With the obstacles gone, what are you waiting for? Heat the oven and make a batch of delicious, spicy pear, ginger and pecan muffins. The recipe yields eight muffins. Freeze leftovers individually so you can thaw and serve one or two at a time.

Pear, ginger and pecan muffins

Prep: 35 minutes Cook: 30 minutes Makes: 8 muffins

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon each: cinnamon, salt

1 egg, beaten

1/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 pear, peeled, cored, finely chopped

1/4 cup each: chopped crystallized ginger, chopped pecans

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Beat together egg, milk and melted butter in a small bowl; pour over flour mixture. Stir just to mix ingredients. Stir in pear, ginger and pecans. Do not beat.

Spoon into a greased muffin pan, filling 8 of the cups about 2/3 full. Bake until muffins are golden brown and cooked in the center when tested with a toothpick, 30 minutes. Let muffins cool 5 minutes. Turn out onto wire rack; cool completely.

Nutrition information: Per serving: 156 calories, 36% of calories from fat, 6 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 22 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 156 mg sodium, 1 g fiber

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