Ever have a baking experience where nothing goes as expected? That happened to me today when I attempted to alter the recipe for “Orange-Chocolate Chip Muffins”, page 410. Normally I don’t have any complaints, or problems, when tweaking ingredients in a recipe to omit oil or use a different flour. But today things didn’t turn out quite right, and I’m still trying to figure it all out. Before I go any further, let me say this – the end product tastes wonderful! There were no complaints from me or hubby on this count. But, as muffins, they just didn’t come together right.
At a glance, this seemed an easy enough recipe to work with. The batter was flour, baking powder and baking soda, orange juice, and yogurt, plus oil, which I replaced with applesauce. Stir in chocolate chips, can’t go wrong there, right? And then there is a streusel topping made from flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and orange juice, and again, oil, which I again, replaced with applesauce.
The first thing I noticed was the batter was more like cake batter than muffin batter, i.e., a little thin. I think this thinner batter couldn’t support the weight of the chocolate chips, as they all sunk to the bottom of the muffins. After filling up the 12-cup muffin tin, I still had a lot of extra batter, which I poured into a small loaf pan and baked along with the muffins. The next thing that wasn’t quite right was the streusel, which actually seemed more like a paste (was this a result of using applesauce instead of oil?). Each muffin was supposed to be “sprinkled” with the streusel, but with the thick consistency, it could only be dolloped, and in any case, I ran out of mixture after the 9th muffin. This, too, proved to be too heavy for the light batter, and those muffins that had the dollop of streusel caved in quite significantly in the oven. I had to bake the muffins and the bread much longer than 25 minutes, probably due to the batter being so moist. About half the muffins didn’t hold together very well, but happily, the bread did. In retrospect, I think this would have been better baked entirely as a quick bread, based on the consistency of the batter.
So, what happened? Maybe I made too many changes. I subbed out the white flour for whole wheat pastry flour. I used applesauce instead of oil. These two things I always do when I bake, so nothing new here, but you never know. I didn’t have vanilla yogurt, so I used plain yogurt, plus vanilla extract. I added ¼ cup sugar to the batter, since my yogurt was sugar free, and the batter was a bit tart. Maybe all these changes just upset the chemistry. I’m happy to say I didn’t have to throw anything out, and we plan to enjoy the muffins/bread. They may not be perfect to look at, but the flavor of the orange, chocolate, and slightly sweet is very satisfying.
Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list (but I can’t say for sure if these changes are viable, since my muffins didn’t come out quite as expected):
- Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose (white) flour.
- Use applesauce instead of oil.