Home Cooking 18

Muffin Challenge -- Muffin #s 3 and 4

Mrs. Smith | Nov 8, 200505:08 PM

Hi All,

Sorry about the inexcusably long time between reports, but i'm back baking muffins. To recap, the entries are

1 Oatmeal Apple Nut Muffins -- LisaN - scored a 16
2 Cranberry Muffins -- Smokey -- scored 16.5
3 Pumpkin Muffins -- Caitlin McGrath -- reviewed below
4 Auntie Bee's Cardamom Apricot Muffins -- reviewd below
5 Moist and Chocolatey Zucchini (Cake) Muffins -- Fun with Food -- TBD
6 Gold Grand Marnier (Cake) Muffins from the Cake Bible - Muffin -- TBD
7 Apple Bran Muffins -- Buttercup -- TBD
8 Muffin mix plus orange juice and orange zest -- Cyndy -- TBD
9 Doughnut Muffin from Fine Cooking -- Melissa -- TBD
10 Coconut Banana Muffins -- krissywats.

Again, cut and pasted from old threads, here are the scoring criteria

Minors: -- 1 possible point each.

1) Ease of mixing -- is it fussy, or easy?
2) Ease of ingredients -- are the ingredients easy to get, keep fresh, assemble?
3) Ease of baking -- easy to get in and out of the pan, bake well, uncomplicated?
4) Freeze well? Can you freeze or otherwise keep the muffin for about a week, possibly more?
5) Ease of defrostin -- post-freezing quality of the muffin.

Sooooo a perfect muffin would be a 20. HOWEVER, I reserve the right to....

-Even if a muffin scores a zero on all the minors, if the taste is so good, it can override a muffin that gets all five. Essentially, if the muffin is good enough, the baker (me) can through out all the minors and make them meaningless.

I just wanted to find a way to differentiate between these good muffins, assuming I like all of them the same in the taste department.

I also reserve the right to go back and change the score on a previous muffin, if I find, say 5 muffins into the challenge, that I've over or under scored.

The muffins will be tasted in these ways:

Fresh from the oven, just cool enough to eat
Cool, but still fresh (the next day)
After freezing for a few days, defrosted.

Ok, reviewing Caitlin McGrath's Pumpkin Muffins. I actually made these twice. Once in May before I moved, then again just last week (we're in the new house now and have internet connections, etc). This was because I lost my notes from the first bake in the move.

Caitlin, I don't really like pumpkin things. I know a lot of people who love pumpkin bread, muffins, cookies, etc, but I'm only so-so on it. Not the fault of these muffins, but they were handicapped from the start.

That said, they are good muffins, and I will keep them in my recipe file for when a pumpkin muffin becomes necessary :)

Taste: out of the oven -- 6 out of 10. A bit mealy and too pumpkinny for me, but certainly a good pumpkin muffin.
Texture: again, a bit too mealy. Very moist though which makes a big plus for me -- 4 out of 5

The minor scorings:

Mixing: 1 out of 1
Ingredients 1 out of 1
Baking: 1 out of 1
Freezing 1 out of 1
Defrosting 1 out of 1 (these freeze very well.)

TOTAL for Caitlins Pumpking Muffins: 15

Onto muffy's Auntie Bee's Cardamom Apricot Muffins.

I was really excited about these muffins, because I love the taste of cardamom. The problem with these adorable little muffins is that their cardamom flavor (only 1/8th teaspoon per 6 muffins) is VERY muted. I would up the cardamom in these just cause I like it.

Also, the dried apricots (this is a variation -- the original old-fashioned recipe has candied fruit, which I will also try separate from the challenge just because I want to!) were a revelation. I'm not wild about dried fruit in general but the apricot chunks were plump and delicious.

The problem was the texture. This is an old-fashioned creaming-method (cream softened butter and shugar together, as for a cake) muffin which makes for a slightly dry slightly tough muffin. The word is SLIGHTLY but still not as moist and fragrant as the Cook's Illustrated-endorsed melted-butter method. I also like that these are a 6-muffin recipe (very convenient to double) and the cinnamon icing (powdered sugar, milk, and cinnamon) is really really good. Why did I never think to add cinnamon to a powdered sugar glaze before?

Anyway, I wanted these to be the best muffin ever. They have potential, but there are few things wrong wtih it so I won't be able score it as high as I would like. Great, unique, muffin, though -- I will come back to it.

Taste -- only an 8 out of 10 because of the muted cardamom flavor.
Texture -- alas, a tiny bit too dry, and a bit too tough (I was careful not to over mix, it's just the creaming method) This is in comparison to an oil or a melted butter muffin, so I can't fault it since they are different animals. I just prefer a moister muffin (although this has a good traditional muffin texture) So, I'm sorry to say, a 3 out of 5

Onto the minors:

Mixing: fussy, creaming method. 0 out of 1
Ingredients: 1 out of 1
Baking: 1 out of 1
Frezing 0 out of 1 (apricots shrivelled, icing flaked)
Defrosting: 0 out of 1 (texture suffered)

I wish this muffin the best, though. It's a unique combination of flavors and is a perfectly acceptable muffin. It's just didn't wow me, which is what I'm looking for. Thanks, Muffy, however for the really interesting and special recipe.

Total: 13

Next up : Fun with Food's Moist and Chocolatey Zucchini Muffins!

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