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Utility Muffin Research Kitchen

It's that time again... baking time! :-)  I have been ex-uh-perimentin' in my kitchen, and would humbly share with you the results.

I've been thinking hard about nourishment and nutrition lately.  I never, ever, ever want to go on a diet, but I do want to spruce up my eating habits and try and eat smarter, if that makes sense.  On the other hand, life without cakes would be... well, I don't want to know, quite frankly!!  Therefore, the search for toothsome dainties that do not consist entirely of fat'n'sugar continues.

Last week I decided I wanted to make apple muffins.  I had some cooking apples looking sad on the counter and was in an 'individual cake' mood, rather than wanting to make a big cake.  I sometimes make a lovely Dutch Apple Cake but it's quite a fluffy, sweet confection and I hoped to find something at least slightly healthy.  Or at least, not wholly UNhealthy.  Well, I found this recipe and adapted it somewhat.  Instead of using butter I reduced the quantity a little bit and used sunflower oil.  Instead of wall-to-wall sugar I used slightly less than the stated amount of white sugar and replaced the dark brown sugar with maple syrup (reducing the amount slightly again).  And instead of generously sprinking brown sugar on top of the muffins, I used a pinch of demerara sugar on each one.  Other than that I followed the recipe exactly.  They turned out beautifully - really delicious, moist and moreish.  I had thought perhaps that was rather a lot of cinnamon, which can be an overpowering flavour, but it worked.  Here they are, the lovely little things:




But the story does not end there!  (...Exciting, huh? ;-P)  Today I tinkered with the recipe a little more, and as a result it is... slightly healthier!  (Don't faint!)  Here is the tweaked recipe:

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

1.5 cups wholemeal plain flour
0.5 cups plain white flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
0.25 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 large egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk soured with 1 tsp cider vinegar (prepare this first so it has time to curdle - alternatively, use buttermilk or yogurt)
3 medium eating apples, roughly chopped (I didn't bother to peel mine)
Demerara sugar for sprinkling

Combine the first 7 ingredients (the dry ones) in a small bowl.  Combine the oil, sugar, syrup and egg in a large bowl.  Mix in the soured milk at the last minute, then stir the flour mix into the wet ingredients.  Fold in the chopped apple.  Divide between muffin tins - makes 12 - 16.  Then sprinkle a pinch of demerara sugar on each muffin (about a 1/4 tsp per muffin).  Bake at 200 centigrade for 10 minutes, then turn down the heat to 180 and bake for c. 10 more minutes.  Muffins are ready when a wooden toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Results: this has effectively half the sugar of the original recipe, and the amount of fat is somewhat reduced too (and the oil has less saturated fat).  The texture is slightly firmer/less moist but still delicious.  They're more 'muffin-like' if that makes sense; my previous version was a little bit 'puddingy'!  It turns out that when using maple syrup instead of sugar you need to reduce the overall amount of liquid; doing that seems to have helped.  I also found out that maple syrup is apparently sweeter/has more calories than regular white sugar, so using less is fine.  The little lovelies are still sweet enough, especially with that little bit of demerara on the top that your tongue tastes first.  The reduced sugar meant these ones didn't over-brown at the edges like the last ones, either!





I'd quite like to have a go at these again but using carrot instead of apple (and probably ginger instead of cinnamon, and maybe orange juice instead of milk).

More healthy food is now in the offing - I've just roasted a butternut squash and will be making a risotto with it for our supper.  I'll let you know how it turns out... :-)

...And that's all for now. ^_^


( 10 confidences — Confide in me... )
Jul. 2nd, 2012 05:55 pm (UTC)
Those muffins look really good! You should create a food blog with all your recipies!
Jul. 2nd, 2012 07:23 pm (UTC)
Tank you veddy much! :-) Ah, if only I had the concentration to write a blog about just one subject! ;-)
Jul. 2nd, 2012 06:26 pm (UTC)
Mmm, those look good.

Maybe do little Uniweria Zekt symbols in red sugar on top? ;)
Jul. 2nd, 2012 07:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :-D

Haha, Zeuhl cupcakes... could be good, could be weird. I wonder what flavour they should be?!
Jul. 2nd, 2012 08:07 pm (UTC)
I've made that Smitten Kitchen apple muffin recipe before! I reduced the sugar significantly when I made them too. I've found that I can reduce sugar in many baked goods without it having much of an impact on the final product.

I love butternut squash risotto! It's far too hot here at the moment (in the high 90s F, which I think translates to something like 36 or 37 C) to do any roasting, or any standing over pots of simmering risotto, but I always make butternut squash risotto when the weather cools down in the fall.
Jul. 9th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
Haha, small world! :-) I guess the test of a good recipe is how far you can alter it and still have it work out. The only problem I've had so far with cutting out the sugar is that the end product doesn't keep very well.

Hmm, yes, butternut squash is not really seasonally appropriate, although having said that, here we have not had a summer (I am not exaggerating, there have been about 4 or 5 no-jacket days over the past 2 or 3 months!). It was really tasty though! :-)
Jul. 4th, 2012 05:15 am (UTC)
They look so good I feel as if I've eat them already! :)
Jul. 9th, 2012 05:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :-) If I could have sent some your way, I would have! ^_^
Jul. 7th, 2012 09:16 pm (UTC)
Slightly belated, but happy birthday! Hope everything's OK with you - it's been far too long!
Jul. 9th, 2012 05:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you - I agree, far too long! :-) Belated birthday wishes to you too! All's fine with me - I hope all goes well with you.
( 10 confidences — Confide in me... )

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