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What to do to combat the imploding muffin: Help

 
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Andrew
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 8:26 am    Post subject: What to do to combat the imploding muffin: Help Reply with quote

Alright, I have been using Alton Brown's recipe for blueberry muffins. I am trying to diagnose two problems on either end of the scale:

1) Muffins come out perfect, but small...barely cresting the top of the tin, but lacking that muffin top shape.

2) In trying to achieve that muffin top shape, I increased the amount of batter (per muffin) but the muffin imploded (not drastic, but more concave then -vex) and the blueberries sank to the bottom.

Here is the recipe and I would greatly appreciate any help.

12 1/2 ounces cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
Heavy pinch salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup yogurt
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Vegetable spray, for the muffin tins

cook 22 minutes @ 400 F.
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Thor



Joined: 24 Jul 2006
Posts: 112
Location: Camp Hill, PA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:26 pm    Post subject: Howdy Cupcake Reply with quote

My first thought was to accuse you of over mixing, which is a very natural but detrimental thing to do when employing the muffin method. But I donít think that would explain the batterís inability to support the berries.

My second thought was insufficient leavening. The amount of baking powder depicted is consistent with ABís muffin recipe included in his baking book (which I may post later, as it does contain some interesting differences including AP flour, more egg, and half the sugar), so quantity may not be an issue. Perhaps, to start, you should verify that your baking powder has not reached old age and is still operating as advertised. Try mixing a tsp of baking powder with Ĺ cup of hot water. If you donít immediately see bubbles, you need new powder.

The baking soda is really only around to counteract the acidity of the baking powder, not as a primary leavening instrument. But while weíre making bubbles, may as well break out the Don Ho records and check the soda too. Mix ľ tsp baking soda with a couple tsp of vinegar. If you donít immediately see bubbles, you need new soda.

If you turn out to be a bubbling fool, and you are certain you are not over mixing, Iím tempted to consider the cake flour next. By any chance, did the results seem more cupcake than muffin??
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GaryProtein



Joined: 26 Oct 2005
Posts: 535

PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 12:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Howdy Cupcake Reply with quote

Thor wrote:
The baking soda is really only around to counteract the acidity of the baking powder, not as a primary leavening instrument. But while weíre making bubbles, may as well break out the Don Ho records and check the soda too. Mix ľ tsp baking soda with a couple tsp of vinegar. If you donít immediately see bubbles, you need new soda.


I think the acid/base balance is where the problem lies. Either the leavening ingredients may be old or there needs to be more acidity in the mix for the bubbles to be created. Try adding a tablespoon of lemon juice and see if that helps.
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Andrew
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 2:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only thing that wasn't bought from the grocery store the day I made the muffins was the nearly empty baking powder. I made sure not to overmix, following ABs technique with dry lumps of flour still in the mix.

Last, tough to tell whether they were more cupcake than muffin. They were moist and had coarse crumbs.
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Thor



Joined: 24 Jul 2006
Posts: 112
Location: Camp Hill, PA

PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The baking soda is really only around to counteract the acidity of the baking powder, not as a primary leavening instrument. But while weíre making bubbles, may as well break out the Don Ho records and check the soda too. Mix ľ tsp baking soda with a couple tsp of vinegar. If you donít immediately see bubbles, you need new soda.


Not sure who* wrote that, but it's not quite right. Baking powder generally contains baking soda. When baking powder encounters moisture, an acid is produced which is thereby neutralized by the baking soda contained therein, producing bubbles in the process. Bubbles leaven.

Baking soda is used as a primary ingredient to neutralize acids produced by other primary ingredients, and to produce bubbles. Bubbles leaven. In this muffin case, there should be plenty of acid provided by the yogurt and the fruit to activate the baking soda. The problem with baking soda is that it functions quickly. The instant it sees acid, it quickly bubbles itself out, then it's done. Just like the classic vinegar/baking soda volcano your sixth grade science teacher demonstrated. Once done, those bubbles have to remain in tact through mixing, any resting period, placment in the pan, and up until enough heat has been applied to seal the structure.

Modern baking powder is a little different, as it is "double acting". Act one is the moisture activated acid/baking soda process that provides bubbles at the point of mixing. Act two is heat activated which produces bubbles while the goodies are in the oven. A double whammy of sorts.

Baking powder is also a little different in that its "suggested" shelf life is only 3 to 6 months in a cool dry place. Baking soda's half life is closer to plutonium. And since your powder was not new, and almost gone implying some maturation, I remain suspect of its age and level of productivity.

*("who" would be the schmuck commonly refered to as Thor, who's thunder is not so boisterous today)
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Thor



Joined: 24 Jul 2006
Posts: 112
Location: Camp Hill, PA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AB calls them Old-School Muffins in his baking book. Recipe is as follows:

11 ounces AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup yogurt
1 to 2 cups bits and pieces
Baker's Joy spray, for the muffin tins

cook 18 to 20 minutes (or until interior hits 210) @ 375 F. Remove from oven, turn muffins on their sides to cool.

His hint to prevent fresh berries from sinking in the batter: toss with the dry ingredients prior to addition of the wet works.

My grocer was running a two for one deal on blue berries, so I tested this recipe with a cup and one half of berry goodness. My muffins turned out successfully, with good shape, beatiful color, moist interior, and yummy flavor. My berries did not sink, and proudly adorned the muffins.
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