News from the Test Kitchen- Bran Madness

The Bride and I have been watching food documentaries of late. Any residual resistance I had for my sugary concoctions went largely out the window after viewing these. Sugar is the devil.

Of course, I’ve long danced with the devil, so no wonder it feels so familiar.

Bad food is also a drug. No wonder I’m so obsessed. I’m scanning about for new addictions apparently.

With that in mind the Bran Muffin test kitchen kicked into high gear in search of our three aforementioned goals: 1) Moistness 2) Health 3) Artistry.

After my first batch, where I stuck to the basics, I decided I had to branch out. Search “moist” bran muffins and the recipes are all very similar to bran muffins, in general, which by definition means dry as toast.

In the true spirit of testing, I’ve now made three batches of muffins each differently, slowly evolving the process to narrow in on what will earn the EFFin Artist label. I’m so far off the grid they don’t even have power here. I’m going where no recipe seems to have gone before.

For example. One batch I envisioned tasting like a healthy Snickers bar, full of chocolate, peanut butter and caramel and still having only a 1/4 cup of brown sugar total. Impossible? I think not.

Overall the muffin proved delicious, especially compared to bran muffins, but nothing like a Snickers bar. It was loaded energy bomb. For the chocolate I used protein powder. The peanut butter was Effin A brand, all natural. The caramel topping came from sweet potatoes, a smidge of butter and a teaspoon of brown sugar, greatly reduced. On a couple of muffins I mixed this caramel-like mixture with a touch of cream cheese to make it more frosting-like. It’s amazing how tasty this all was and with virtually no sugar.

2014-02-07 13.58.17

Sounds delicious right? Well it was. EXCEPT: I was listening to AC/DC and Ozzy at the time and got a little jacked up and forgot to turn the oven down (speaking of dance with the devil… our oven is Satan’s spawn. But that’s another story). So they cooked a bit hot and burned ever so slightly the muffin cup. They were still really moist thanks to the plain Greek yogurt I mixed into the batter. But they just didn’t have the perfect finished artistry to succeed on all three levels. Very close. For the next round I’ll mix some dark cocoa powder with the protein powder because the chocolate was all but lost. (Another little secret: I used half a banana mashed into the eggs to give added moisture. The flavor is lost, which I wanted because it didn’t go with a Snickers Bar, but the moisture remained… very cool, I think).

My next creation was a blueberry coconut bran muffin. Here I got absolutely a bit whacky. I decided to use coconut oil, but rather than heat it into a liquid I used it solid and crunched it up into the batter. My thinking was it would heat and pour moisture into the dough while they baked. I also used a 1/4 cup of raw coconut sugar, 1/2 cup of coconut water, dried coconut flakes and a sprinkling of coconut dust on top for that all-too-important artistry. I folded the blueberries in at the last so they didn’t smash up too much. Again I went for yogurt in the batter as moisture. It almost worked until… the oil ended up basically frying the muffins as they cooked. I opened the oven and it looked like I was frying dough again!

As it turned out, the edges are a delightful crispy texture like fried dough, but of course they aren’t really fried. But the oil kept them so moist and dense, they didn’t rise at all. So these are too tiny to call finished.

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I’m going to try it again with two corrections: The oil will be mixed in so it won’t “fry” but just have that moisture. I’ll also use baking powder next time to get the lift I need. I like BIG muffins that bowl over the edges, so that’s a must for the finished product.

So who wins the sweepstakes?

Just like my brother’s favorite TV show The Sopranos… nobody knows!

YET.

I can’t send the sweepstakes package yet… because I haven’t discovered the perfect muffin yet. Some good things have emerged, but other things haven’t quite come together. The freezer is full of these little dudes, but none are Effin Art. None are worthy to wear the “I’m an EFFin Artist, Man!” label. The quest continues. Stay tuned… the winner’s spot is still very much up for grabs. All I can say is when I’m done, these will be very, very worth the effort to win them.

By the way, the Snickers bar muffin had 1 gram of sugar! Only 1 per muffin. Amazing right?!

Stay tuned.

Effin A has left the building…. so don’t bother trying to unsubscribe. He can’t hear you…

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