How to Make Ordinary Recipes Extraordinary


I stopped at a bakery café the other day and tried a slice of their zucchini bread. It was extraordinary. They had included pineapple, pecans, coconut, and citron. (It took me a while to identify the citron.)

Yesterday I tried a cranberry orange muffin. It was extraordinary. They had added frozen cranberries, not dried.

They call these “inclusions”—ingredients that are added to the basic recipe. They can make all the difference.

Today we would like to share some somewhat random inclusions that we’ve used

Fresh and frozen fruit

Use every opportunity to slip in some seasonal fruit. Frozen is almost as good.

My mother grated apples and added them to pancake batter. Leave the skin on. Add a teaspoon of cinnamon. These seem especially good with whole grain pancakes.

When bananas get mushy ripe, mash them and add them to your pancakes. Put some chopped pecans in too. I’ve learned from experience that even with the ripest bananas—and those are by far the best—it’s not quite enough flavor. Add a little banana flavor.

One day we were making cupcakes in the test kitchen, cupcakes with strawberry frosting. We had folded in strawberry pastry filling to give the frosting a very fresh taste. We still used a very good liquid strawberry flavor. The cupcakes were extraordinary. We gave them to customers in the store. By the way, in a pinch, you can use a good strawberry jam.

We had a ripe pineapple that needed to be used. I minced the pineapple and then wrung it out a handful at time wrapped in a paper towel to get as much moisture as I could out of the pineapple. I added it to the strawberry frosting. Strawberry pineapple frosting is extraordinary.

With the next batch of frosting, I creamed the sugar into cream cheese. I then made the frosting with both strawberry filling and the fresh pineapple along with the cream cheese. Strawberry pineapple cheesecake frosting is extraordinary.

The cream cheese in frosting is a good idea. It helps stabilize the frosting and adds flavor. Get started by creaming the sugar and cream cheese together else you’ll have little cream cheese lumps in your frosting.

More inclusions

We have a previous post with an extensive list of inclusions for bread. Read on to see the list for bread inclusions with instructions. Most of these work well with muffins and some with biscuits.

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