The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

unexpected reaction

nicodvb's picture

unexpected reaction


few days ago I made RLB's muffins described in her book "the bread bible", with several adaptions. I used these ingredients:

-60 gr unsalted butter

-1 large egg

-100 gr caster sugar

-1 teaspoon of baking powder (sodium pyrophosphate + sodium bicarbonate, I guess it's single- and slow acting)

-135 gr of flour mix (I choose 45 gr of potato starch and 90 gr of cake flour)

-100 gr of quark instead of sour cream

-100 gr of raisins

-a touch of salt

-a teaspoon of dried and grated orange zests

Disclaimer. You will think that I didn't prepare muffins. Yes I know, but it doesn't matter. My point is another.

I left  all ingredients  at room temperature for several hours. Keep in mind that in this period of the year my apartment reaches 31°C if not more...with horrible humidity levels.

Using only a tablespoon I stirred together butter, salt and sugar until I obtained a cream, than I added the egg and stirred more. Already at this point the cream became quickly very firm, like a stiff foam. I stirred in the baking powder and the zests, then the starch and finally the remaining flour alternated with the quark. The more I stirred the more the batter rose in volume and increased in firmness. Overall I mixed the ingredients for no more than 10 minutes.

Does it always work like this with those ingredients? It was my first time with muffins and I didn't expect such a strange behaviour. It was as if I had added stiff egg-whites. Some friend suggested that the baking powder can have started its job in advance, but since this is a slow-acting powder the solution doesn't convince me. Moreover it wouldn't explain such a massive increase in viscosity.



proth5's picture

about the foam with the egg (new to me), but sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)  ("slow" acting baking powder or not) with an acid (like zests or quark) in heat will foam like crazy.

No, this is generally not the behavior we like to see in muffins.  They will often rise and stiffen a bit when acid hits baking soda or liquid hits baking powder, but your experience seems to be out of the ordinary.

I don't know the formula that you were using, but in general the addition of chemical leavening is left until the addition of the flour - which is done at the end of the mix and mixed rather quickly (and you will see some reation at the time - the trick is to get the stuff into the pan and into the oven fairly quickly.)  You describe an unusual procedure when you speak of adding the baking powder directly to the liquid ingredients.  RLB is usually a good formula writer - so you may wish to review to see if you went off course.

The heat could be the major culprit in all of this.  How were the final muffins?

nicodvb's picture

Pat, the "muffins" come out very soft, I couldn't wish them any better although maybe they are not supposed to have this structure.

You are perfectly right that I should have added the baking powder at the end, certainly I reversed the order.

I concentrated on the composition of the powder without considering that the bicarbonate reacts immediately with the acids in the quark. This would explain at least the increase in volume.

proth5's picture

Sugar will stiffen eggs - so just adding the eggs to the sugar mixture might have produced the texture you described - which I find hard to visualize.  Salt on egg whites will dry them (the remedy for an egg dropped on the floor is to sprikle it heavily with salt - it will quickly become a powder and can be swept up with a broom...) so, again, this may have caused the texture you describe.

But we can't play fast and loose with the order of ingredients when using the "muffin method" of mixing (say that three times fast...) :>)

Quark is a lovely, rich, ingredient so it will make muffins that tend to be soft (as would sour cream).  Since you enjoyed them I would think another try with the ingredients in the right sequence would be the thing to do ...

Have fun!

Wild-Yeast's picture

Hi Nico,

This happens with sourdough waffles too. The dry leavening ingredients are stirred into the fermented batter after it has fermented overnight. A bowl having at least twice the volume as the batter must be used - otherwise it will overflow as the batter expands...,


isand66's picture

If you don't me asking what is Quark?  The only thing I know called Quark is a desktop publishing program :).

MangoChutney's picture

Quark is a soft, moist cheese made by lactic acid coagulation of the milk instead of coagulating it by use of rennet.  I used to make quark from my kefir.