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Dec 24, 2009 01:02 PM

alton brown muffins


I'm new in this forum, and new in baking too. Just started to baked last month. Hope to learn something by trial and error.

I tried making Alton Brown blueberry muffins.
The recipe calls for
* 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

It turn out that the muffins is flat and the top is burnt, but the the filling is very moist and soft.
What went wrong with the recipe?

I had tried other muffins recipe, it didnt call for baking soda and it uses milk instead of yorgurt.
What the use for baking soda, i only know that it is used as levening agent. But doesnt baking powder do the same job as well?
What is the difference between using milk and yorgurt?
Also any difference when replace oil with melted butter?

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  1. The difference between yogurt and milk is that yogurt (also sour cream and buttermilk) has additional acid. And that's why there is baking soda in this recipe -- it's neutralizing the acid that would monkey with the action of the baking powder while permitting the extra flavor that the acids provide.

    There is essentially no difference between oil and melted butter. Substitute away!

    It looks like a fine standard recipe. Couldn't say what went wrong except that if you burned the tops the oven temp was too high. The result was a lot of heat on the surface causing burning and not enough time for the general heat to penetrate the centers and bake them. You *want* a moist muffin but you also want the crumb to be fully cooked.

    I have had some good success preheating my oven to a very hot temp that sets the sides of the muffins and then dropping the temp to a more conventional temp once they're loaded in the oven. Perhaps you had such a recipe and forgot to drop the temp? Ot you may want to check the accuracy of your oven's thermostat. It may be allowing too high a fluctuation.

    BTW, I've never used cake flour for a muffin and I don't think I'd ever bother to. But that's just me. I think a muffin should have some substance and not really be cake-like.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rainey

      i didnt use cake flour, as i couldnt find any in the shop. i just use plain flour.
      so using yorgurt (with baking soda) instead of milk will give a softer texture as the bubble expand when baking starts?

    2. The reaction of baking soda (base) with yogurt (acid) causes bubbling (f you've ever seen baking soda w/ vinegar, it's along those lines, only not as dramatic) which helps with leavening. The baking powder is another leavener which is why some muffin recipes only call for baking powder and not baking soda/acid. Additionally, baking soda can help with a darker color.

      Have you checked the accuracy of your oven? It might be running high. Also, since your muffins didn't rise, it could be your baking powder or soda. Are they older?

      1. Flat top might be due to old baking powder, perhaps???

        4 Replies
        1. re: Val

          i just use the temp indicated on the oven as a guide line.
          the baking powder and soda are new.
          i will try the recipe again at lower temp to see if it improve the situation.

          1. re: surreyian

            Sometimes if you over-mix the liquid into the dry ingredients, or do not get it into the oven quickly thereafter, the muffins will not rise as well and will be heavy.

            1. re: visciole


              You can mix the dry ingredients in one container and the wet ingredients in another and they can sit half of forever.* But once you do combine them you want to move quickly to the oven.

              And, as you say, visciole, you want to mix with a light hand and never over mix. Of course, this is more about forming gluten that will produce tough muffins than about the rise but it's a really important rule nonetheless.

              • This business of keeping the wet and dry ingredients separate is useful if you want muffins first thing in the morning. If you have your wet and dry things separately prepared all you have to do is take a minute to combine them and the muffins are in the oven while you take a shower.

            2. re: surreyian

              Don't lower the temperature. I have good results by heating the oven to 450˚ and then reducing it to the temp specified in the recipe when I load the muffins into the oven.

              The point of this exercise is to quickly set the sides of the muffins. This leaves only the top to release the rising action. As a result, the muffins go up as they should to produce a nicely domed top instead of spreading out at the sides and over the margins of the cups of the muffin pan.

          2. One thing to check is whether your oven is accurate. (Many aren't.) To do this, you'll need an oven safe thermometer. This way you can check the accuracy of the dial or mechanism against the actual temperature inside the oven. Is your oven clean? It can make a huge difference when baking because a dirty oven will absorb and not reflect heat, making baked good uneven because of hot spots in the oven.

            One way to check your baking powder is to stir a tsp. in a cup of hot tap water. It should bubble a lot. If it doesn't, replace the baking powder, even if the date on the can says it's still usable. Once opened, baking powder can degrade in it's leavening power.

            Good luck, and keep at it. Home baking is rewarding work.

            1. Just a thought--if the sides of the tins are sprayed too heavily with vegetable spray, the batter can't "climb" the sides--I suppose that would keep them flatter. That's why some recipes say "grease bottom only" of pan. I think this would be a minimal problem, but I always use paper fluted cups so I don't know. If the tops are really burnt--blackened?, and the oven temp/time, ingredient amounts and baking powder are OK, then blame it on Alton.