Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tu BiShvat is Awesome: Pomegranate Date-Raisin Muffins

Tu BiShvat is awesome. It's the Jewish New Year for trees - traditionally, from this day, the age of a planted tree is counted. This count is done because Jews traditionally don't eat fruit from trees that are under a certain age. It's also a day where one traditionally plants trees, eats certain fruits, and celebrates the land, agriculture, and renewal. Spring starts around now in Israel.

Tu BiShvat was on Wednesday.

While I held a little impromptu get-together on the day itself for my friends - dates, cranberries, and ice cream, and talking about trees - that wasn't quite enough for me. I was originally going to bake muffins that used all seven species traditionally consumed on the day, but that recipe was too complicated, and had a ton of common allergens in it.

At the same time, I really wanted to make something celebratory. Not only was it Tu biShvat, but my prayer group also took a "field trip" on Friday to visit another, larger group holding services that week in Hyde Park. Why not open the celebration to even more people?

So I took my muffin knowledge and made this recipe with four of the traditional species - pomegranates, dates, grapes, and wheat. The muffins seemed to go down pretty well, and I've gotten a request for the recipe. Here it is!

And Happy New Year!

Pomegranate Date-Raisin Muffins (Pareve!)
makes ~30-40 muffins

(I'm not a native user of Imperial, so a few of the measures may be slightly off)

1 cup dried, pitted, and chopped dates
1 cup raisins
7 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup pomegranate juice (from or not from concentrate; POM might work well for this)
2 2/3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt

1. Soak the dates and raisins in nearly-boiling water (but off the flame) for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

2. Preheat your oven to 350F/175C. Grease muffin tins (use olive oil if you want to be very Tu BiShvat-like), or insert parchment paper (recommended).

3. Beat the eggs and sugar together in a bowl until blended well. Add the pomegranate juice and mix until the mixture is a consistent, brown-grey color.

4. Add the flour, 2/3 of a cup at a time, into the mixture and blend evenly with the mixture. Add the baking powder with one of the cups of flour. You should get a batter that is thick, but not doughy. If it's too thin, add more flour; too thick, add more pomegranate juice.

5. Add the dates, raisins, and salt. Blend such that the dates and raisins are evenly distributed in the batter.

6. Spoon the mixture into each muffin tin such that each cup is about halfway full.

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a fork/toothpick comes out cleanly after insertion. Let cool and serve.

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