So today I’m going to talk about a few things, and this is the novice baker in me talking. But lately, I’ve noticed a lot of the recipes I’ve been making are extremely dry. I’m noticing this now because I’ve been focusing on cupcake and cake decorating, and I haven’t really had to make a lot of things from scratch. I noticed this with the baking I was doing around Christmas time (I associated it to over mixing because I had never baked anything in my life and had no idea what I was doing), but last weeks recipes as well, while great, could have used a little extra wet ingredients. But what the heck is causing this? So I googled, and as usual, google came through to me. So google, why I ask, are my muffins and cookies and other recipes coming out drier than I would like? Do tell. Google: Well Kelsey, according to this lovely user on yahoo answers, “A lot of times people don’t know how to properly measure flour. You should first loosen your flour with a spoon or butter knife by stirring it around. Then take a spoon and just start spooning it into your measuring device. Do not Pack it down or it will add too much flour causing your product to become dry or hard.” So now you tell me! So I do this. All the time. With every recipe I make. So people, do not pack down your flour. Apparently it makes a huge difference. And, I would assume this is the same for Icing sugar as well, which would explain why I have to add so much cream to my buttercream frosting while icing my cupcakes. So lesson learned, I Kelsey the Baker, promise I will never pack my sugar ever again.
Today I went with apple and brown sugar muffins. I did not discover the “flour packing epiphany” until after I tossed them in the oven, so forgive me. But as I was shopping this morning for my baking ingredients, I stopped in the produce aisle, completely confused. I stood before rows and rows of different types of apples. So…my question…what type of apples are best for baking? Are some better than others? Should some be avoided? I attempted a quick google in the store but it was busy and the old woman behind me didn’t appreciate my stopping in the middle of the aisle while having an apple related panic attack. So I settled on Spartans, just because I know they’re on the sweeter side, and I went on my merry way, making a mental note to do further research once I was home. So apparently I wasn’t wrong, the only real warning I got from the articles I read was to not bake with red delicious apples. The most important thing to consider when using apples in a recipe is the texture of the apple, and whether or not the apple will be able to retain it’s shape while sitting in the over for an extended period of time. I read a lot of articles that mentioned granny smith as a great apple for pie, and it apparently tastes great when mixed with MacIntosh apples. Something too sweet can cause your recipe to taste too sugary, since most recipes already contain a great deal of sugar. So I think next time I may hit up granny smith, but the one thing that was consistent in every blog, article and website I visited was to experiment. Try different apples and different combinations of apples to find your favourites. And, since my apple muffins were more like an apple crumble, I think I will reattempt this recipe at a later date to see how they turn out.
Mini Apple Crumble Cakes
yield: 24 cakes (but possibly up to 30…I had some extra batter left over after I filled my cupcake pans)
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup oil
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla
- 3 cups flour (packed)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 cups peeled, cored, diced apples (around 3 apples)
- Brown sugar for topping (around 1/2 cup)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with paper liners.
- Cream together sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix until combined. The batter will be very thick. Add the diced apples.
- Fill paper liners almost to the top, about 3/4 of the way full. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20-24 minutes.
So mini apple crumble cakes…Not bad right? Who doesn’t want to have apple crumble with their coffee in the afternoon? It actually tastes pretty great, and I’m sure in muffin form they would have been even more fabulous. I will attempt them again in the future! Happy Baking!