Saturday, September 11, 2010

lessons from a muffin pan

this week has been quite busy, even with the labor day holiday. ah, so not much cooking to report but i did bake a tiny bit, busted out the muffin pan for the first time since at the new apartment.
here's a picture of my failure muffins...
chocolate-banana-oat muffins
for the recipe i modified a honey-oat muffin recipe i found on tastespotting (which i finally got on, by the way :D but i've probably already told you that a hundred times haha)... adding cocoa powder, chocolate chips, mashed banana, making high altitude adjustments, substituting this and that....

bleh.... is the best way to describe the final result. the original muffins looked so great but i think i made a mess of it. if you want the original recipe, it's this one. i believe the simplicity of that recipe is what makes it stand out. so,

lesson #1: don't add too many bells and whistles, simplicity is often best, occam's razor, etc etc

sadly there was too big of a difference between smooth, sweet chocolate chips and dense chewy oats.. and not in a good way. it just made for one direction-less mess. which leads me to...

lesson #2: do not mindlessly add random things on whim.

i filled half of these with peanut butter which made it even worse. but no worries, as you can see i always learn more when i mess up in the kitchen. or anywhere else in life, for that matter.

---cut to, a later time in the week-----

wednesday, had a big indian dinner with friends and i made some dessert. all prepared by chef sumeet: (some sort of) chicken, mutter paneer, fresh yogurt, etc. etc.. unfortunately no food pictures were taken, but the dishes were soo great!

however here's a pair of leftover chai spiced cupcakes with honey-ginger cream:

fresh spices courtesy of mrs. pawar! thank you!
i worked based off of this, making a few (only a few!!) random changes, altitude changes, and put it in cupcake form. also, i quadrupled the ginger called for in the frosting cause otherwise the flavor was very weak. 

by the way, high altitude adjustments for me usually includes:
  1. a little more flour/dry stuff (such as cocoa or matcha powder)
  2. a little more wet stuff (water, milk, yogurt, oil, mayo)
  3. using AP flour whenever it calls for cake flour.. at high altitude you need that extra gluten for support
  4. reducing leavening agents
  5. reducing sugar 
  6. increasing bake temp by 10-20 degrees C, and often shortening bake time (watch if you're unsure!)
aaaand that's all folks.