I love baking muffins with my grandchildren because the recipe is so easy even 4-year-old Nina can help. And the prep is so quick that they all pay attention from start to finish.
But muffin making is especially fun for Tu Bishvat. Showing the kids how simple it is to add fruit to plain old muffin batter leads to talking about why we eat fruit on this holiday. And that will end in a conversation — on a child level — about why fruit is important for our health and why it’s so important to take care of trees. Of course I mention that Tu Bishvat is sometimes called the new year of trees because it’s the beginning of tree planting season in Israel.
Naturally, a lot of this is lost on children. But I hope that if I say the same thing every year, eventually it will sink in.
This year we’re going to make Date-Orange Muffins, based on a recipe of mine that started out as a Cranberry-Lemon muffin. That way I can also show them how easy it is to be creative; changing ingredients can still lead to deliciousness.
5 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chopped dates
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon grated fresh orange peel
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Lightly grease 8-10 muffin tin cups.
3. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool.
4. Chop the dates and place them in a bowl with one tablespoon of the flour. Toss to coat the dates (to prevent them from sticking together) and set the dates aside.
5. Combine the remaining flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and orange peel in a bowl.
6. Place the buttermilk, orange juice, vanilla extract, egg and melted butter in a second bowl and beat to blend ingredients thoroughly.
7. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix just until combined.
8. Fold in the dates.
9. Fill the muffin cups evenly with the batter.
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
11. Let the muffins cool for 15 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and serve warm or let cool to room temperature.
Makes 8-10 muffins.