When Baking A Better Muffin Is No Easy Task
How hard can it be, right? You mix together ingredients like baking powder, eggs, water and flour, bake and bam—you get consistently great-tasting muffins.
Well, not exactly.
Not when you’re supplying frozen cake and muffin batter to franchise operators around the country to bake on site. And certainly not when the batter has to go through a process of freezing, packing, transporting, thawing and variable handling before it even gets to the oven.
That kind of complexity demands way more out of leavening.
The R&D chef at the batter company contacted us to see if we could improve the consistency of their leavening results to account for the variable handling by the different operators.
The cake and muffin mixes they used to make their products already contained baking powder; they thought microencapsulation might be the answer—help them make up for the leavening potential lost from the time the batter is mixed to the time it’s baked, and extend shelf life for both freezer and thawed storage.
Based on the information shared, we shipped two samples of different baking soda actives for the chef to experiment with. But preliminary results showed that the coated leavening did nothing to improve the baked results. In fact, using higher doses only produced “brown spots,” a common indicator of high alkaline.
In response, our applications experts dug deeper and quickly made an important discovery: the unusually high percentage of flour in the dry mix was negatively affecting the performance of the coated leavening.
So we experimented with single actives of coated sodium bicarbonates and blends of different sodium bicarbonates and leavening acids.
We determined that the best option for the chef was a blend of coated sodium bicarbonate and coated leavening acid – and recommended that the coated leavening blend be added to the dry mix and dry blended for a few seconds before being added to the wet ingredients (over-blending or using paddles would erode the coating on the active particles).
Two months passed before we heard back. We later found out why: the new batter had been mixed two months earlier, frozen, defrosted two weeks later for a bake test, re-frozen, and defrosted again for a two-month test. And the results were quite good.
According to the chef, the height and diameter of the muffins at two weeks and two months was identical; the interior was well-leavened and the crumb looked like it was made with fresh batter; the dome was consistently high.
To top it all off, because our coated leavening blend required 50% less sodium, this longer-lasting, higher-quality muffin will be re-launching soon under a “clean” label.