Baking Basics, Part 2: Baking Mixes, The Batters

Picking up from where we left off in our first blog about Baking Mixes (see here) we now want to look at how to use the same baking mix we used to make the biscuits, scones and dumplings in that article to make batter recipes such as  Muffins, Coffee Cakes, Steamed Puddings, Pancakes and Waffles. Since these baked goods are wetter and sweeter that the first ones we'll be naturally increasing our liquids and upping the butter and sugar content. 

Batters: Muffins, Coffee Cakes, Pancakes, Waffles:

Muffins (12.5 - 40% sugar)

Muffins have relatively little fat or sugar, and are combined very carefully. They produce moist, not-too-sweet buns, which often have fruit mixed through the center.

For a dozen small to medium muffins, you will need:

  • 2 cups baking mix plus any combination of additional ingredients (see "optional" below)
  • ⅓ cup (2 ⅜ ounces) unrefined or sucanat sugar   (33%)
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1.5-2 oz melted butter
  • ¾ cup (6 ounces) yogurt or milk

Muffins rise better with yogurt or sour cream added to the batter, as opposed to milk.

We have cut back on the sugar and butter in this recipe for a healthier muffin, but if you prefer, you can increase, up to double, these two ingredients.

OPTIONAL up to 1-1 ½ cup of extras (nuts, berries, banana, etc.).  For example:

  for blueberry muffins

  • 1 cup wild blueberries
  • dust top with 2 tbl sugar + ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

  for banana muffins

  • 1 large over-ripe banana, mashed
  • ¼ cup chopped raw walnuts (optional)

  for carrot-spice muffins

  • 1 cup carrots, finely grated
  • spice mixture: ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground ginger, ⅛ tsp allspice, ⅛ tsp nutmeg and a pinch of ground cloves

  for apple-walnut muffins

  • 1 cup (about 2 sm) tart apples, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dices
  • cup (50 g) seedless raisins, opt 
  • ¼ cup (30 g) walnuts, chopped
  • zest of 1 orange
  • spice mixture: ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, plus ¼ teaspoon for dusting, teaspoon nutmeg, 
  • teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 tbl sugar for dusting tops

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease a muffin tin, or line the wells with muffin papers.
  2. Put the mix in a mixing bowl. Blend in the sugar. At this point add any dry "other additional Ingredients." Beat the egg with the melted butter and the yoghurt or milk and stir gently into the mix, taking only 20 seconds. This is important. No matter how lumpy, resist the temptation to stir until the lumps are gone. You'll wind up with tennis balls if you don't.
  3. Using a 1/3 cup measure or a cookie scoop, fill the cups of a muffin tin 1/2 to 2/3 full. Bake at 375°F for about 22-25 minutes.
  4. To save even more time, mix up the batter and pour it into a greased 8-inch cake pan and bake for about 40 minutes at 350°F.

A Yummy Coffee Cake 

To save more time, mix up the same batch of muffin batter and pour it into a greased 8-inch cake or 9" tube pan.

Top the cake with a delicious mix of brown sugar and pecans, walnuts or other nut meats if you want this tasting more yummy.

You will need:

 for the Topping:

  • 1 cup (3 ⅞ ounces) pecans or walnuts, chopped or ground
  • ½ cup (3 ½ ounces) packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

for the Batter:

  • 3 cups baking mix
  • ½ cup (3 ⅓ ounces) unrefined or sucanat sugar   (50% total w/topping)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2.5 - 3 oz butter, melted
  • 1 cups (9 ounces) yoghurt or milk + sour cream

Steps:

  1. Topping is made first since some of it is incorporated into the cake itself.  Mix the ground nuts with the brown sugar and spice. (this is a nice and versatile topping so you can even double the ingredientse and use more or refrigerate for future use).
  2. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  3. Put the batter together as described for Muffins. Grease the bottom and sides of the tube or regular cake pan. Put about 1/2 the batter in the bottom. Sprinkle 1/3 of the topping over this and swirl it in gently with a fork. Put the remaining batter on top and sprinkle on another 2/3 of the topping.
  4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the coffeecake cool for about ten minutes after it has baked. Turn it out onto a serving platter, sprinkle on the remaining topping and serve.

Easy Steamed Pudding

Another variation on the above, this time steamed instead of baked. A classic, nonetheless.

For 6 servings you will need:

  • 2 cup of baking mix
  • 3oz (6tbl) butter, softened
  • 3 oz (scant ½ c)  unrefined or sucanat sugar (33%)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-4 tbl half-and-half or milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup fruit or 150g marmalade or jam plus 3 tbsp brandy, optional

Steps:

  1. Mix everything, except for the milk (marmalade and brandy), together with an electric hand whisk for about 3 minutes – until well combined.
  2. Add enough milk so that the mixture is of a dropping consistency – a good blob of it should just fall off a spoon when held above the mixing bowl.
  3. Grease a 1-litre pudding bowl or 6" casserole or individual ramekins with butter and place the marmalade and brandy in the bottom of the bowl. Spoon the pudding mixture over it. If the bowl has a lid then use it to cover the bowl, or cover with tin foil and tie with a piece of string.
  4. Steam over water in a covered pan for 30 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with top milk or cream and sugar.

Pancakes

To cook pancakes most successfully, use a griddle that heats and holds the heat evenly. Cast iron is particularly good for this.  Keep your griddle well seasoned.by wiping the surface of the griddle off after you've finished cooking, and if it appears dry, wipe it again with a bit of oil before you put it away. This keeps the seasoning intact and keeps air from the surface, which can make it rusty.

for 2-4 servings you will need:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 to 1 ¼ cups milk (depending on how thick or thin you like your pancakes)
  • 2 tbl melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups baking mix (spooned lightly into a measuring cup)

 

Steps:

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg and milk together until the mixture is light.
  2. Stir in the mix until it's just moistened; about 20 seconds of blending will do it. Don't try to get out all the lumps or the pancakes will be tough and rubbery. Any lumps won't be perceptible in the pancakes themselves.
  3. Preheat your griddle and grease it lightly, if necessary.
  4. When the griddle is the right temperature, a few drops of water will "dance" on the surface. Use a 1/4-cup measure, or a large cookie or ice cream scoop, and pour batter onto the griddle, leaving room for expansion. Turn the pancakes when a few of the bubbles that appear on the surface don't fill in. The second side will cook in about half the time the first side takes.

Waffles

The pancake recipe can also be used to make waffles.

Important: If your waffle iron is not nonstick (and often even if it is) you'll need to apply a thin film of grease before you pour on the batter. This can be done easily with a pastry brush (or use a nonstick vegetable spray). Unlike a griddle, a waffle iron needs greasing before each waffle is baked to prevent sticking.

Cooking tips:

Although waffle irons differ, a waffle usually cooks in 2 to 4 minutes.

When steam stops pouring out from under the lid, check to see if it's done. If the top doesn't want to lift up, it probably needs another minute or two. A well-seasoned iron will "let go" of the waffle when it's done.

Waffles are best eaten right from the iron if you like them crisp. They tend to soften if you stockpile them like pancakes.

 

 

That's all for Baking Basics, Part 2. In Part 3 we will go over Cakes! See you then!


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