Friday, April 9, 2010

Looks are Deceiving: My Pretty Strawberry Muffin Misfire

These muffins look pretty tasty, right? Below is my first blog recount of a recipe mishap.

If you have read the handful of posts that I've written so far, you will start to get the idea I'm a big Costco fan. Even though I'm not feeding an army at my house we buy in bulk and generally it works out ok. My most recent purchase was a huge 4lb container of strawberries. Given hubby won't touch strawberries (unless they are in jam form) it was all on me to use them up. I even considered making strawberry preserves. But I've never done the whole canning thing and wasn't ready to go there. After eating the strawberries a la carte and slicing them up in my cereal for a couple of days I zeroed in on a recipe in my new Sweet Melissa Baking Book for Strawberry Muffins with Fresh Lemon and Rosemary. I didn't have fresh rosemary but I had all the other ingredients. And the next day I was going into the office where people would eagerly gobble up any kind of homemade treat. So at 9pm on Tuesday evening I started gathering the ingredients to make these tasty sounding muffins.

Most of my experience with baking starts with combining the wet ingredients and then adding in the dry slowly. This recipe was just the opposite. Melissa Murphy instructs you to put the dry ingredients in a large bowl, making a well in the center and then adding the wet.

I followed the recipe diligently. I pulled the dry ingredients from around the sides of the bowl in the well of melted butter, sugar, milk and cream. When everything was combined I was left with a dough consistency rather than a batter.

I was perplexed. Didn't seem right. The recipe did say the amount of milk could be variable, so I added some additional milk. Didn't help. I reread the instructions again. I didn't miss a step or forget an ingredient (as I've been known to do). I've heard that it's very easy to overwork muffins, but I barely worked these. It's like the flour in the middle of the bowl sucked up the wet ingredients so fast there was no wet stuff left for the flour on the outside edges. I wonder if the moment that I stopped to photo the wet well in the dry mixture had something do with it? I'm not sure. Sigh. Even though I knew deep down (as deep down as you can go when lamenting over a muffin recipe) these were not going to be good, I went ahead and baked them up. They came out of the oven smelling yummy and looking pretty good...actually i thought they looked a little like scone turned muffin. But they really weren't edible in my opinion. Well they were edible, technically, but not good. It was so needed a drink to get it down. It was sorta like when peanut butter gets stuck to the roof of your mouth. It was dissappointing. The funny thing is the next day when I was driving to work Hubby texted me and said "You forgot your cupcakes". I love he thought they were cupcakes by the way. I replied back telling him they were left at home intentionally. My co-workers did not get a surprise treat on Tuesday morning. These pretty little muffins went straight into the garbage when I returned home from work in the evening. It was kind of sad. Look how good this little guy looked...

The problem with this recipe failure is I am not sure what went wrong. I just checked out a previous Sweet Melissa Sundays muffin P&Q and found that several other bakers reported a dense muffin. So maybe these weren't as far off base as I thought? I guess my muffin expectations were and are different. These were definitely more scone/biscuit like than muffin-esque. Not my personal preference. It looks like I'll have an opportunity to give Melissa Murphy's muffins another shot the week of May 9th when Sweet Melissa Sundays tries out Orange Blueberry Muffins with Pecan Crumble. All of SM's muffin recipes start with the same base recipe. I think I will scale back on the flour and see how that goes. More to come on muffins!

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