I made: Banana buttermilk muffins

You know the drill.  Buy bananas, fail to eat all bananas before they turn black, put bananas in freezer in hopes that someday you’ll be a person who makes banana muffins.  Well, I’m really happy to report that for the first time in my life, I am finally that person.

I used (more or less) this recipe but seriously guys, it’s banana muffins, there are approximately one million recipes and all of them are basically fine.

Steps:

  • Prep: preheat oven to 375 and spray/line muffin tins as you prefer.
  • Mix dry ingredients: 1 3/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda.  (The recipe called for whole wheat flour, which I don’t typically have, so I used regular AP flour and it was fine.)  I also added 1/2 cup chopped walnuts at this time.
  • Mix wet ingredients: 1 cup buttermilk, 1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 bananas’ worth, depending on the size of your bananas), 2 tbsp canola oil, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla.  (This recipe called for low-fat buttermilk, which is stupid.  I use normal buttermilk like a normal person.)
  • Add wet to dry and mix until just blended, don’t overmix.
  • Add 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips and fold, don’t overmix.
  • Fill muffin cups.  Press more mini chocolate chips on top of the muffins if you want.
  • Bake 15-18 minutes.  Now I took mine out at 18 minutes and they were still not done (more below), but use your judgment.
  • Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes then remove to rack to finish cooling.

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OVERALL NOTES:

  • I am noticing a pattern in general that my oven does not tend to cook things within the times recommended.  If it does, it’s always the highest possible time.  I’m mystified because I really have checked various sections of my oven’s temperature with an oven thermometer.  It is possible that maybe one section of my oven doesn’t heat evenly and maybe I missed that section when I was checking.  It does seem like the back half of the muffins cooked okay, and it was mostly the front half that remained slightly underbaked.  Or maybe my oven thermometer is also wonky idk.
  • Another issue I’ve had AGAIN with muffins is that even though I followed the recipe almost exactly, I still had WAY too much muffin batter.  I don’t think this is explainable by the extra 1/2 cup walnuts.  I forgot to take a picture of it, but when I first took them out of the oven, it was basically a solid mass of muffin that had almost spilled over the sides of the pan entirely.  Is it possible that my muffin tin itself is weirdly non-standard?  Like, the cups are just a tiny bit too small?

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  • Regardless, these tasted pretty good anyway so I’m not complaining.  I LOVE the combination of chocolate + banana.  Add some peanut butter and I’m in heaven.

NEXT TIME:

  • I would still make banana muffins to use up frozen bananas but I might like to try another version of the recipe just to see if different combinations are even better.  This recipe seemed slightly inspired to be “healthy” which is not a quality I’m particularly looking for in baking.
  • If repeating exactly, I would bake longer.
  • I’m going to try rotating things in my oven to see if that helps the uneven baking issue.
  • Maybe some peanut butter?

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Gooey slightly underbaked muffins.  Still ate them

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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!

I made: Cranberry oat muffins

591982366I was brokenhearted to hear about the death of Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer for the Cranberries, whose early albums formed the soundtrack to much of my first two years of high school.  I’m not sure if this is an entirely appropriate tribute, but I decided to bake a cranberry-based treat in celebration of her life.

I found a recipe that used cranberries, buttermilk, and oats, all of which I found intriguing.  Recipe here

This is a very straightforward muffin recipe.  Makes 12 muffins.

  • Preheat oven to 400F and prepare muffin tin (I used spray + flour, muffin cups would work just as well).
  • Combine dry ingredients:
    • 1 1/3 cups flour
    • 2/3 cup quick oats (I used old-fashioned rolled oats)
    • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • Combine wet ingredients:
    • 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • Stir wet & dry together until just combined.
  • Fold in 1/2 cup cranberries (I used dried, the recipe calls for fresh).
  • Fill muffin cups and bake 18-22 minutes, then cool for 10 minutes before removing.

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OVERALL NOTES:

  • First of all, I went slightly off-recipe.  I used dried cranberries instead of fresh, and rolled oats instead of quick.  This may have impacted the outcome to some extent.
  • I also added a lot of other spices.  Every time I see “cinnamon” I think of it as a starting point rather than a firm rule.  So I added 1/2 tsp each of allspice and cardamom, and 1/4 tsp clove and ground ginger.
  • This recipe made way more batter than I expected.  The recipe itself says yields 10-12 muffins, but I filled the tins almost to the brim and still got 12.  I may have used a little more walnuts & more spices, but I’m mystified about how that increased the volume so much.  Maybe I just like puffier muffins.
  • Overall, I’d say these are okay muffins for a breakfast food.  They are not very sweet, nor moist, nor particularly interesting in other ways.

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NEXT TIME:

  • I probably wouldn’t use this recipe at all next time, honestly.  It was rather bland and I don’t think a few tweaks would improve it that much.  I’ll take the blame for the modifications I made, but I’m not sure I’m entirely at fault here.  It’s a fine recipe for what it is, it’s just not a finished product I’m terribly excited about.

BONUS MICHAEL SCOTT:

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I made: Blueberry and cream cheese muffin top bread

This one tastes better than it looks, I swear!

I’ve been wanting to use up some buttermilk I’ve had leftover from another recipe, and I bookmarked a ton of ideas.  I liked this “bread” recipe because it seemed pretty simple and would travel easily, and I hoped to take it as a hostess gift.

I used this recipe.  It’s very similar to a muffin recipe in ingredients and techniques, except you just pour it into loaf pans instead of muffin tins.

  • Get ready: preheat oven to 350F, spray and flour two loaf pans.
  • Make the cream cheese filling: whisk together 8 oz softened cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar.
  • Prep the blueberries: toss 2 cups blueberries with about 1 tbsp flour, and toss to coat.  (I used frozen blueberries.)
  • Mix the dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, and a pinch of salt
  • Mix the wet ingredients: 1/2 cup melted butter, 3/4 cup buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar.
  • Mix the dry and wet ingredients together.  Don’t overmix.
  • Fold in blueberries.  Don’t overmix.
  • Pour about 1/4 of the batter into each of the loaf pans.  Then add the cream cheese layer and spread it with a spatula.  Then top with the rest of the batter.
  • Bake in the oven for about 60 minutes.  (I had trouble with this step.)  Cover with aluminum foil for about the last 15 minutes to avoid over-browning.  After removing from oven, let rest for 15 minutes in the pan before removing to cool completely.

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OVERALL NOTES:

  • Like I said, this TASTES great.  The batter is well balanced, and the sweet blueberries pair very well with the cream cheese.  The muffin-y aspect is really nice as well, and makes a very tasty and crispy texture on the top.
  • However, I had two major issues.  One, my blueberries sank to the bottom so much that it’s basically a three-layer cake: blueberry layer, cream cheese layer, muffin layer.  That’s not good.  The second issue is that either 60 minutes was not enough, or there’s something else wonky with the recipe.  I took out one loaf pan at exactly 60 minutes, and left the other one in for 75.  Both loaves “fell” in the middle.  The one that baked for longer didn’t seem much different, it was just darker.

NEXT TIME:

  • I really am going to try this one again, keeping in mind one of my resolutions, which is to try and fix things that don’t work as well.  I mean, it’s a SUPER TASTY loaf, don’t get me wrong, but I’m sad that it’s so much uglier and unbalanced than the recipe photos.
  • Problem 1: seems overmixed – at least the blueberry stage.  I’m going to try a few different ways to fix this.  I got both fresh and freeze-dried blueberries at the store, so I’m going to see if the dried ones work better.  For the fresh, I’m thinking about using way less flour in the flouring step, and making sure to sift out all the extra flour.  I think the reason my bread looked kinda green is because I had too much extra flour on the blueberries.  I’m also going to try leaving the blueberries completely out of the bottom layer of the batter – surely if I just put them in the top layer, gravity will do its thing and some of it will fall down anyway.
  • Problem 2: didn’t fully rise/fell/seems underbaked – I don’t know yet what to do!  My husband suggested baking longer at a lower temp, so I may try that with one loaf – I’m not sure this will fix the issue completely, though.  I’m thinking I may try using way less oil.  This is an extremely wet recipe, and while that may make it taste nice and last longer, it is also kind of excessive.  I may also try removing from the loaf pan earlier, instead of waiting 15 minutes after removing from oven.
  • By the way: I know the problem is NOT my oven.  I have an oven thermometer and have tested it in multiple points within the oven; my oven heats accurately and fairly evenly.
  • Any other suggestions, friends?

I made: Double chocolate chip muffins

I made these on Monday evening on a whim.  My main goal was to bake something fairly simple, for which I already had all the ingredients.  I almost chose a triple-chocolate recipe but it involved melting stuff, which was trickier than I felt up to.

Just a reminder that this is not, in fact, a recipe blog.  You can find a really good recipe for double chocolate chip muffins here:

Muffins are pretty easy most of the time.  Here’s how they went:

  • Prep muffin tin with liners and preheat oven to 400F.
  • Mix together dry ingredients:
    • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 2 tbsp cocoa powder (I used fairly heaping tablespoons)
    • 3/4 cup sugar (the recipe says “superfine” but I have no idea what that means so I used regular normal person sugar)
    • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (I used a mixture of finely chopped semisweet chunks left over from a previous recipt and chips)
  • Mix together wet ingredients.
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Mix together dry and wet ingredients, leaving lumps.  Spoon into muffin cups and sprinkle some more chips on top.  (I used mini chips to sprinkle on top.)
  • Bake for 20 minutes or so.  (I don’t remember if I did slightly shorter or longer, sorry.)  Yields 12 muffins.

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OVERALL NOTES:

  • This was one of the easiest recipes I’ve made since I started this whole baking project.  I didn’t even have to use the electric mixer.
  • These tasted REALLY good fresh out of the oven.  Warm, melty chocolate goodness.
  • I was a tiny bit worried I over-filled the cups, but they ended up perfect.  12 big, fluffy muffins with generous tops.

NEXT TIME:

  • I can’t think of anything I would do differently.  I would make these exactly the same.
  • Maybe double the recipe so MORE MUFFINS.