The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sunken Muffins; Is there a formula for muffins?

AdrianeS's picture
AdrianeS

Sunken Muffins; Is there a formula for muffins?

I tried to find a recipe for a savory cheddar zucchini muffin using all whole wheat or spelt flour and a sourdough starter. When that turned up nothing I looked for a quick bread thinking I could convert it into muffins but I'm not sure how to adjust for that. Would it only be time and temperature or might the ingredients need tweaking?

I'm very new to baking and not knowledgeable enough yet to just be able to formulate a recipe, but in this case I tried it anyhow and it didn't turn out so well! I was very loosely going off a recipe for sweet muffins. For the sponge I added half a cup of starter to 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, 1 cup yogurt and 1/4 tsp salt. In the morning I melted a half cup of butter and beat 2 eggs into it. Then I added a heaping cup shredded zucchini, 3/4 cup shredded cheddar, and 1/4 cup scallions. I sprinkled a tsp baking soda over the sponge and then combined everything. I baked at 350f for about 45 minutes at which point the outsides were as brown as they could be without burning, the insides still weren't done, and the muffins had completely sunken in. Grrr.

Is there a general formula for muffins using whole wheat flour and sourdough starter? I am wondering if I should not have used pastry flour and also if there was too much yogurt in the mix. I have several other savory muffin ideas I'd like to try and I'm afraid of repeated failure! After I get the cheddar-zucchini ones down I'd like to do a tomato-basil- mozzarella mix. 

Any advice or troubleshooting would be greatly appreciated! I'm very new to baking anything besides prepackaged mixes. After changing my diet and doing some reading on whole wheat and sourdough I just can't see baking any other way. It's impossible to go back! Now that I can finally turn out a semi-decent loaf of hand-kneaded sandwich bread, I find the accomplishment to be immensely satisfying and a bit addicting too...

Cuisine Fiend's picture
Cuisine Fiend

I might be confusing the British vs. American understanding of what 'muffins' are, but I've never tried to make muffins with yeast or sourdough leavening - I always use just baking powder. Like these, for instance.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

baked muffins for 45 minutes, most muffins contain enough sugar that they would be burned by 30 minutes. Anyway one thing that I found when making muffins is that a rest period before they go in the oven has multiple benefit, we use to leave the muffins at least an hour after scooping before putting them in the oven. The rested muffins would have nicer peaks and would stay moister longer. No scientist but I thought it allowed bran, oatmeal and other thirsty ingredients to hydrate. 

Gerhard

daystar's picture
daystar

Whole wheat flour does need some time to hydrate, to soften the bran which will help allow a greater  gluten network to develop to support your rise....although you don't want too much either of course.  I would second the notion that your dough is too hydrated,  zucchini is going to add a good bit of additional liquid as it bakes. I tried a sourdough muffin recipe from this website with pretty good success... Culturesforhealth.com

AdrianeS's picture
AdrianeS

I do allow the sponge to sit overnight so the grains had plenty of time to soak and soften. 

I'm not sure what or if there's a difference in American muffins vs British. I imagine probably not and using a sourdough starter is a bit more unconventional. I do it for the added nutrition. 

I too saw the recipe on cultures for health but it included a bit of sugar and since I am going for savory muffins I wasn't sure how to adjust for adding just a pinch of it. I think I'll take a look at it again and maybe go with that as a base next time. 

gerhard's picture
gerhard

What is known as an English muffin in North America

 

What is commonly identified as a muffin in North America

Cuisine Fiend's picture
Cuisine Fiend

The second image is what I also know as muffin (we call the English muffins 'crumpets').

So I'll say again, the use of yeast or sourdough as raising agent in muffins is new to me and as far as my (perhaps limited) knowledge tells me, it sounds wrong.

 

gerhard's picture
gerhard

My thought was that this was a way of using the discard from maintaining a sour dough culture, I have no problem flushing it down the kitchen sink but others have a hard time throwing it out.  

Gerhard

daystar's picture
daystar

I think you maybe you could sub a little extra flour and salt for the sugar amount, that might help tp balance out the water drawn from the zucchini, and maybe a little dried onion or garlic? You may want to considee the kind of muffin pan too... i have a silicon one  (was a gift,  just hadn't gotten around to replacing it) and it cooks muffins unevenly and I have to say I actually think it hinders rise too....

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Try and find an old book called "Sourdough Cookery" by Rita Davenport. Here is the ISBN number:

ISBN  0-912656-63-8 (softcover)

ISBN  0-912656-64-6

Library of Congress  Catalog Card number 77-71168

Publisher H.P Books, Printed 3/77

There are a lot of sourdough based recipes for muffins and tea breads, as well as regular bread.

Your muffin recipe needs some adjustments, as you know. First of all, the sourdough starter is not really a leavener in this recipe. It provides flavor from the fermentation and acid to react with the baking soda to raise the muffin to a more cake-like texture that you are going for.

Try this:

1. For the sponge I added half a cup of starter to 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, 1 cup yogurt. Let sit overnight.

2. In the morning, in the same bowl, sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt over shredded zucchini and let sit for about 15 minutes. Moisture will come out of the zucchini so the zucchini pieces don't "weep" into the baked crumb and make the muffins soggy after they cool.

3. Add zucchini and moisture/liquid to flour mix. Taste. It might need a little more salt- 1/2-1 tsp more. (depends on if butter is salter or unsalted.)

4. Add butter or oil (these are pretty rich with a full stick of butter and eggs) and eggs (beaten). Mix lightly.

5. Add 1 tsp baking soda (if this is not enough leavening, add additional 1 tsp baking powder next time. You will only know when they are baked.) (Baking soda will work if the sourdough starter made the mix acid enough. If you don't think the starter is acid enough, then use baking powder, which has the acid built in)

6. Mix briefly.

7. Fold in cheese and scallions. Do not overmix!. Save some for garnishing top, perhaps.

8. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full. You should see some bubbles forming from the chemical leavening.

9. Bake 350 about 30-40 minutes. If there is sufficient air in the muffin they will bake through.

Cheese is an expensive ingredient for a trial. You may want to try this as a scallion flavored muffin, first. Just to get the base recipe down.

If they are too dense, you need more leavening.

If the texture is ok and they are too brown on the outside and not cooked on the inside, it may be your oven is not calibrated and running hot.

 

Have fun!