Sunday, May 20, 2012

"WHAT WENT WRONG?": Banana Split Muffins

So, I currently have the evidence of a baking failure (or "baking fail," as the kids these days like to say) sitting on my counter. Obviously, I'm not thrilled. But I want to learn from this mistake and figure out how to make this recipe for banana split muffins work.


And I need your help.


First, I'm going to give you the (failed) recipe, which was based on my research, experience and preferences, plus feedback from my friend Lisa, whose recent Facebook post about making similar muffins (but flying by the seat of her pants, so she didn't really have a recipe to share) got me obsessed with the idea.


Then, I'm going to tell you what I didn't like about how the muffins turned out.


And, finally, I'm going to brainstorm some possible fixes and ask for your feedback on the ideas.


Once I feel like we collectively have a handle on what went wrong, I'll try the recipe again and report back on the results. It takes a village to bake a dozen muffins! :)


So, first ... the recipe. It goes without saying that YOU SHOULD NOT USE THIS RECIPE. It didn't work. That's why we're here.

FAILED RECIPE: BANANA SPLIT MUFFINS


Ingredients:
• 2 mashed ripe bananas
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1/4 cup agave nectar
• 1/4 cup plain soy milk
• 1 Tbsp vanilla
• 1&1/2 Tbsp almond paste
• 1/2 cup crushed pineapple in juice (not drained, but not tons of liquid in it, either)
• 1&1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1/4 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 cup diced fresh strawberries
• 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans
• 12 maraschino cherries, patted dry


Directions:
• Preheat oven to 400F.
• Line muffin tin with paper liners.
• In a large bowl, mix bananas, oil, agave, soy milk, vanilla, almond paste and pineapple; set aside.
• Sift together flours, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
• Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until moistened. (I felt the batter was too dough-like at this point and poured in a bit of the remaining juice from the pineapple.)
• Fold in strawberries, pecans and chocolate chips.
• Fill paper liners with batter. Press a cherry into the top of each one.
• Bake for 22-24 minutes (until the tops begin to brown).


THE PROBLEMS
• Batter was too much like cookie dough -- needed to be looser.
• Related: Muffins were too dense.
• Not enough banana flavor.
• Related: Too much flour flavor.
• Not *quite* sweet enough.
• Bottom of muffins stuck to paper liners.
• Perhaps too much vanilla flavor.


POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
• Batter was too much like cookie dough -- needed to be looser.
   - Add more liquid? (Perhaps add an entire 8 oz. can of crushed pineapple?)
   - Perhaps add more oil? And/or maybe use a different kind of oil altogether?

• Related: Muffins were too dense.

• Not enough banana flavor.
   - Use three bananas instead of two? Might that also help with the texture/density of the batter?

• Related: Too much flour flavor.

• Not *quite* sweet enough.
   - Use 3/8 or 1/2 cup agave instead of 1/4 cup?
   - Adding the full can of crushed pineapple may help with sweetness as well, so adding more agave may not be necessary if more pineapple is added.

• Bottom of muffins stuck to paper liners.
   - Might fixing the batter problem also fix this problem?
   - Might it be better to bake these without liners and instead just spray the pan? (I hate doing that!)

• Perhaps too much vanilla flavor.
   - Reduce vanilla to maybe 1/2 to 3/4 Tbsp.?

YOUR TURN
What combination of edits to this recipe do you think will yield a better product? I'm eager to get back into the kitchen and try this again (hopefully with better results!), but I need some feedback ...