Cooking Through Ratio: Doughs and Batters – Quick Cakes – Quick Bread / Muffin

Last night I opened up a new chapter in Ratio on quick cakes. The chapter begins with quick breads and muffins which are essentially the same thing. The key difference is that muffins are cooked in cups.

Quick cakes are described as custards cooked at high heat with some flour thrown in for structure. They are all pretty much the same, differing in the ratio of the ingredients.

I am very confident with Alton Brown’s Old School Muffins and can practically make them with my eyes clothes. They have been thoroughly taste tested at work and with family and friends. I wondered how these muffins would compare.

The ratio is pretty straight forward, 2 parts flour, 2 parts liquid, 1 part egg, 1 part fat (butter). The basic muffin batter recipe also contained salt and baking powder. I added dried cherries to the batter for extra flavor and texture.

Interestingly enough, Ruhlman describes pancakes as thin muffins, which is clearly evident when looking at the batter. It had a lot more liquid and was a lot more pourable than Alton’s. It was clear that the end result was definitely going to be a lot more moist.

Cherry Muffin Batter
Cherry Muffin Batter

The muffin batter was baked in the oven pre-heated to 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes. That might have been too long. They were crisp and most, but considerably more browned than I expected. The cherries all sank to the bottom of each muffin which was not entirely unexpected given how loose it was. The end result was quite tasty indeed.

Cherry Muffins
Cherry Muffins

For me, these muffins would work best as an accompanying side to breakfast better than Alton’s, but don’t scream anytime snack choice. Another one down, many more to go.

Continue Reading

More baking…What’s going on here?

Yummy. I just baked another batch of muffins, cherry walnut to be precise.  I am sure this would not surprise you. I’ve been baking a lot and writing about it here. The muffins and the recipe are tried an true.

There is an interesting difference between baking and cooking. I live alone and when I cook, I cook for myself. Baking on the other hand allows me to create a food substance that is easier to share with people. It doesn’t have to be hot, and if properly stored can last a while. Sharing is a key component of being in the kitchen and a reason for my enthusiasm. I put my best foot forward along with my time and effort to produce items that are not only for me, but to share with others. The results have been well worth it. Sharing is something that is easier for me to do through baking until I get to the point where I am in fact cooking for others such as family and friends.

I’ve taken my muffins and bread into the office and received thanks and praise from my co-workers and my family enjoys my creations when they come for a visit. Baking is an equal part art and science as is cooking in the kitchen. It’s perhaps less forgiving than cooking over a stove  and yet it tends to be a relaxing activity employing the laws of nature and time.

As I continue my culinary education process and use the techniques I learn, I strive for balance between cooking and baking with the goal of being more well rounded with the culinary arts. Be assured though that I will continue my baking posts and share my experience good and bad. It’s just too tasty not to.

Continue Reading

Good Things Don’t Go To Waste

I just finished up writing about my French Apple Tart attempt.  As I read my culinary books and learn more about what it’s like to work in the industry I am more in tune with the efficiency required in the kitchen when cooking. This was a problem in last Friday’s cooking class. I am also more aware of waste and how unused food can be re-crafted into other creations to avoid waste and save money. Tonight I tried to tackle both lessons head on.

First, I was left with extra apples and pie dough from my French Apple Tart since it was smaller than the recipe called for after cutting it. The only thing that came to mind given the quantity that I had was an apple pie. I figured I had enough pie dough for one of my ramekins and I also had enough apples to fill it. I rolled out the dough and lined the ramekin and then placed the apples inside with butter and some apricot jelly.

Improvised Mini Apple Pie Filled Up
Improvised Mini Apple Pie Filled Up

I then covered the top with the remaining dough and poke vent holes in it. I brushed the top with melted butter and placed it into the oven along with the tart with 30 minutes to go.

Improvised Mini Apple Pie Ready For Baking
Improvised Mini Apple Pie Ready For Baking

It only took about 25 minutes for the pie to bake, and once the crust looked nicely browned I pulled it out to cool.

Baked Improvised Mini Apple Pie
Baked Improvised Mini Apple Pie

Once it cooled enough to eat, I was able to enjoy my second gym workout-destroying dessert of the night. I was very happy with the result. The addition of the apricot jelly added some nice texture and flavor to the end result.

The second thing that I have noticed is that I create things in single batches and don’t leverage a pre-heated oven or the fact that I already have my tools and machines out for making food.  I decided to leverage this by creating chocolate-chip walnut muffins that I can eat for breakfast throughout the week. I’ve had a lot of practice making the muffins, so this was an easy task.

I had turned down the temperature in the oven to 375 degrees F as the recipe required. I then mixed up my batter and greased the muffin tin. I was feeling pretty confident with the batter and decided to put in more chocolate chips and walnuts than usual and set my timer for 20 minutes before putting the batter into the tin.

Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins Ready For Baking
Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins Ready For Baking

They muffins were placed into the oven and set to bake as usual while I began the clean-up process. While I was more efficient with my time and tools, the kitchen at this point was quite croweded and needed to be cleaned up to make space. Cleaning up as you go is something so simple and yet so important when working in the kitchen. After 18 minutes the muffins looked perfect and I took them out to cool.

Baked Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins
Baked Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins

I realized that after 5 minutes of cooling I had forgotten to take them out of the tin and put them onto the cooling racks. I did this as quickly as possible fearing that the hot tin would cause them to become mushy as they cooled as was stated by the recipe.

Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins Cooling
Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins Cooling

The muffins finished on the racks, but they were noticably different than previous batches. They were a bit softer to the touch and I can’t help but wonder if it’s because of my carelessness with the recipe with respect to the addition of chocolate chips and walnuts without measuring or if it was forgetting to pull them out of the tin and place them on cooling racks immediately.  Luckily taste was unaffected and delicious as usual.

Continue Reading