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Aug 9, 2011 06:14 PM

Recipe development

I am developing a line of muffins to sell at a local farmers' market and possibly for distribution in a few regional stores. I have a lot of flavor ideas but my issue is developing a recipe that is 100% my own. To give a little background, I am a pastry school graduate. I currently sell muffins, among other items, at a local farmers market. The recipes I use for my farmers market muffins are either directly from a cookbook or I take the base cookbook recipe and change the flavors (e.g., a cookbook recipe for a raspberry muffin becomes a blueberry muffin).

I want to have recipes that are my own but at the same time I wonder if I am just reinventing the wheel if I spend time trying to figure out ratios and measurements (specifically those for flour, sugar, butter/oil, leaveners). Anyone have tips on how to approach this issue?


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  1. 100% your own is going to be difficult. I think we all start with a base recipe somewhere and tweak it and those tweaks evolve. There are so many ways you can personalize a cookbook muffin recipe besides just changing the fruit. Change the spices, swap brown sugar for white, add in different grains or flours - oat, ww, cornmeal - add or subtract nuts or chocolate, put a different topping on it, use melted butter instead of oil. So maybe the straightforward raspberry muffin becomes a blueberry cornmeal muffin with ginger almond streusel. I'd eat that!

    1. IMO, before trying to re-invent the wheel, learn to make 1, 2, 3 stand-out basic muffin recipe that you will _never_ _ever_ miss whatever happens;

      After that, you will need to experiment with using different "taste" filler, do they affect the dough humidity ? how does that impact the cooking time or cooking temperature ?

      Once you can do that and sell them, learn to integrate new and different ingredients that you want to use, how does the flavour work, not just when tasting each ingredient raw, but mixed in the dough and cooked.

      If that works, then you are on the road to muffin glory.

      Remember you are making muffins, not cakes or cupecakes or pastries; they still have to be at "healthy" as possible.


      1. Someone mentioned on another thread, and I agree, that technique means so much more to the final outcome than the list of ingredients and measurements. It's not to say that you shouldn't tweak a recipe to make it your own (and only you can know if you tweaked it enough to satisfy your conscience), but to echo both babette's and Max's sentiments, I think you find a general set of measurements that works for you, tweak it to include delicious and unique flavor combinations that you can call your own, and, most importantly, get to the point that you can consistently produce a great muffin.

        Two different people can make vastly different muffins from the same recipe. I think if you just focus on arriving at recipes that work really well for you and hone your craft so much that you consistently produce a great product, you'll have more than paid your dues for any partial replication of an existing recipe.

        Good luck to you!

        1. I would bet that no matter what you put together as ratios for "flour, sugar, butter/oil, leaveners" you could search cookbooks and online and find at least half a dozen recipes that were exactly the would you be copying them? The final outcome, when everything goes together, is your product. If you steal it all from someone else that is one thing, but there are few recipes for muffins that haven't been tried.

          1. Ruhlman's Ratio


            This book helps you understand what makes a muffin or quick bread different (or similar ) from a cake, biscuit, or pancake.

            Some variables when making muffins:
            - cake method or muffin method
            - leavening - straight baking powder, or baking soda and acid.
            - degree of sweetness (largely a matter of taste
            )- type of fat (or fat substitute). With the cake method, butter is the main choice, but with the muffin method, it can be any liquid fat or oil. The amount of fat can also vary. Generally more fat means a muffin that is more 'moist' and remains fresh longer. Irish soda bread is a quick bread with little to no fat.
            - fruit or vegetable puree (adds both flavor and acts as a fat substitute)
            - grain mix; all white flour for a light cake like texture; increasing amounts of whole wheat and other flours and ground nuts for a heartier bread.
            - spices - lots of room for variation; includes molasses.
            - eggs
            - chunky add ins (dried fruit, nuts, candies, etc)

            So even if you stick with standard ratios of flour(s), eggs, fat, water, and baking soda, there is a lot of room to vary the other ingredients.