I remade: Blueberry cream cheese muffin loaf

In honor of my new year’s baking resolutions, which included the goal to re-make things that didn’t quite work out as planned, I re-attempted the blueberry cream cheese loaf from the weekend.

To recap: this loaf was delicious, but had structural integrity problems.  I attempted to solve this using four different strategies:

  1. I reduced the total amount of oil in the recipe from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup.
  2. I included NO blueberries in the bottom layer of batter.  So each loaf was just one layer of plain batter, one layer of cream cheese, one layer of blueberry batter.
  3. I then split the recipe and half and tried two different things with each half.  In one half, I replaced the frozen blueberries with freeze-dried blueberries.
  4. In the other half, I used frozen again, but during the “toss with flour” step, I used a sieve, and I shook the sieve a whole lot to remove all excess blue flour.

I also made a few minor changes:

  • Started out with the aluminum foil tent to protect the top from over-browning; removed with 30 minutes to go.
  • Baked the frozen blueberry loaf for a full 75 minutes without removing from oven.
  • Very minimal stirring once blueberries were added.
  • Let sit for only 2 minutes after removing from oven then remove to wire rack.

VERDICT:

Ummm…. I think the first recipe worked better without all these modifications, y’all!

The freeze-dried blueberry version had the most structural integrity, but it was the most boring.  It lost too much moisture.  It didn’t taste as nice as the original recipe and I don’t think it’s worth the sacrifice.

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The other version, with frozen blueberries only in the top half of the batter, tasted great!  However, it lost structural integrity even WORSE, I think because when I inverted the loaf pan to remove the baked loaf, it just went SPLAT right on the weakest part of the structure.  In theory, this might be work-aroundable, by lining the loaf pan carefully with foil, then removing the loaf from the top, rather than by inverting the pan.  Still, it just seems like a lot of trouble for not that much gain.

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In conclusion, this is still a SUPER TASTY recipe and one that I’m still pining for (I wish I had brought it with me to work).  I would definitely repeat this to take as a hostess gift or just when I’m feeling like indulging.  Here’s what I would do:

  • Follow the original recipe for the most part, including the full 1/2 cup vegetable oil.
  • Use blueberries in BOTH halves of the batter, just be careful not to over-stir.
  • Use frozen blueberries & remove as much flour as possible before adding.
  • Use aluminum foil tent for the majority of baking, removing 30 minutes before done.
  • Bake 75 minutes.
  • Let sit for a full 10 minutes after removing (or longer would probably be ok).
  • Just accept that this is a messy recipe!

My 2018 Baking Resolutions

Hello friends!  If you’ve been paying much attention to my instagram lately, you may have noticed I’ve been on a pretty serious baking kick since last summer.  I’ve been meaning to get organized with recording my baking efforts, so I’m hoping to start using this blog more often for that purpose.

First things first: I have a few goals I want to work on in 2018.

1. Improve decorating skills, particularly piping/frosting, and spend more time on little visual details.

These profiteroles are the first serious baking efforts I made, back in June 2017.  I put a little effort into the topping and accents, but a lot of the time, I skip this step altogether.  Or I intentionally choose recipes that don’t have much decorating in them, because I don’t feel very good at it.  I have a set of piping tips, and I want to get more proficient in using them.  I’ve noticed that when baked goods look really pretty, they tend to get eaten up faster!  So I’m going to work on this in hopes of having fewer leftovers to worry about.

2. Bake more CAKES.

I did a few cakes in 2017, especially nearer to the end of the year, but not very many.  I tend to avoid cakes because I’m not sure whether they’ll get eaten, I don’t always know how to transport them, and they’re just more intimidating in general.  But when I really think about it I can usually figure out what to do with them, so I don’t want to let those excuses get in the way of CAKE TIME.

3. Keep better visual and written records of what I bake, recipes used, alterations and modifications, etc., with notes and ideas for the future.

This one is pretty simple.  In 2017 I mainly used Chrome bookmarks to distinguish between “Want to Bake” and “Baked,” but I didn’t have any systematic way to record what specifically worked well or didn’t work.  The intent of using this blog is to have a single repository for recipes, images, and my own thoughts and reflections.

4. Bake and record images and notes for at least one item per week, on average.

I’m not too worried about “not meeting a target” or anything, I just think it would be helpful to have a general idea.  So by the end of the year I should have at least 52 items recorded!

Reserving the right to change the pace if life throws curveballs, of course.

5. Don’t let fears of poor technique, not-quite-ideal equipment, and uncertainty keep me from trying out new things and baking things that seem fun and tasty!

One of my very favorite things I made all year was my Hanukkah jelly donuts!  I was really nervous because they were so far out of my comfort zone, but I think they ended up really nice, considering I’ve never done anything close to these before.  Lesson learned: just try it.

6. Try re-baking things that don’t turn out quite right the first time to see how to improve.

I practiced profiteroles a whole lot back in the summer, but since then, I’ve gotten out of the habit of repeat-baking to improve.  It isn’t always as ~fun~ as trying a new recipe, but I think it will be more helpful in the long run for technique and skill.  I’m not going to set a numerical goal or anything, I just want to try and do this a little more than I have before.  I think keeping a better record of my results and notes will naturally lead to this.

7. Experiment with YEAST and BREAD.

Pretty straightforward!  I haven’t even attempted breads in years, and the only recipe I’ve tried with yeast this year was the jelly donuts.  I’m still a mega-beginner in this area, so I’m not expecting anything perfect, just going to make a solid attempt.

So, there you go!  To sum up, my 2018 Baking Resolutions:

  1. Improve decorating skills
  2. Bake more CAKES
  3. Keep records
  4. Bake 1x/week
  5. Try new things
  6. Re-bake to improve
  7. Experiment with YEAST and BREAD

I hope to share my progress with you here over the next year!

Love,

Anna