Fats get a bad rap for being unhealthy, but they determine texture in our bakes. They’re also an integral part of our diets. Nevertheless, we often minimize the fat in recipes for health reasons. But how low can we go? In this post, we’re reducing the fat in muffins and exploring the subsequent effects on shape, texture, and shelf life.
Many muffin and quick bread recipes use oil for a moist, tender crumb. But butter has a superior flavor, and it can melt into an easy substitute for oil. Although both butter and oil are fats, they differ at the molecular level, so a direct substitution won’t create the same exact bake. To learn more about the effects of substituting oil with melted butter, we compared the texture and taste of muffins made with both types of fat.
In the last post, we explored the roles of baking powder in muffins by taking it out of a recipe and then by adding in extra. Today, we’re going to continue experimenting with leaveners in muffins, but now we’re going to add baking soda into the mix. We discussed the differences between baking soda and baking powder in a previous post, but now we’ll see how these differences play out in a baked good.
Baking powder is used in such small amounts it’s often overlooked in ingredient lists. But this unassuming powder is crucial for volume and tenderness in baked goods such as muffins, biscuits, cookies, and cakes. In this experiment, we varied the amount of baking powder in muffins to see how the muffins would change in appearance, taste, and texture.
Recipes often caution us to measure flour correctly. “If you must use a measuring cup, spoon and level! Never scoop!” But how much of a difference do two more utensils make? To find out, I made muffins using flour that was measured with a scale, spooned and leveled into a measuring cup, and scooped from the bag.
In an effort to be health-conscious, it’s tempting to just reduce the sugar in a recipe when we bake. Often, the result is still plenty sweet. But sugar is not just a sweetener, and merely using less sugar will lead to drastic changes in a baked good’s texture and structure. In this post, we’ll explore some of these changes in muffins.
Muffin recipes often instruct, “Mix until just combined.” Some even caution, “Do not overmix. Batter will be lumpy.” Bakers characterize overmixed muffins as dense, chewy, tough, or stringy due to excessive gluten development, but we wanted to see if we could taste the difference ourselves.