I’m an avid reader of Women’s Health – at least, the online version. Maybe it’s the daily giveaways that hook me, I don’t know. But sometimes, the magazine also has some tasty-looking recipes.
Now, I’m a skeptic. I’ll admit that. Any magazine with ‘health’ in the title has recipes that I associate with hippies and weight-lifting fanatics : tofu, soy milk, heaps of flax and oat bran and wheat germ, protein powder, etc. So I’m skeptical of trying anything. But I saw the recipes for healthy muffins, including this one for apple-cinnamon oat-bran muffins, and thought, ‘hey, why not?’ I’m trying to make better choices regarding what I eat, and I do better to eat breakfast every morning when I have something already fixed. Plus, I fondly remember a version of oat muffins I made early in high school. They were dark, moist, toothsome, cinnamon-y little treats and I loved them – but I don’t remember where I got the recipe from, and I can’t find it now. In the back of my head, I was hoping these would come out vaguely similar.
I’m sure you’ve figured out, by now, that my hopes and dreams didn’t exactly come true.
That’s not to say these muffins didn’t taste good, necessarily; they did. And they weren’t as moist as I might have liked, but I had expected that (no available applesauce, so I added a little bitty bit of oil). They were cinnamony, vaguely apple-y, nutty – they could’ve been delicious. But they were just sort of good, in a very plain way.
What bothered me was that they were short and squatty, and predictably, very dense. It wasn’t the nuttiness or the mouthfeel that bothered me so much as that the density and the compact crumb completely swallowed any other flavor other than a hint of apple and cinnamon. This density thing is actually a problem I’ve come across with anything I’ve tried to make with wheat flour recently (sandwich loaves are my most frustrating).
I read a King Arthur tip recently that talked about making a ‘sponge’ for wheat flour goods. I’d never tried anything like that, but it sounds like a good idea – seriously, the folks at King Arthur came up with it, how could it not work? :) But it still raises questions. Since the sponge basically solves my problems for yeast baking, what do I do with the rest of my baking with wheat flour? Will it always be dense like a small rock cake? I know there has to be a trick out there somewhere for baking light and fluffy creations like muffins and pancakes without overworking the batter but still incorporating enough air to get the rise I want. So I implore you, dear readers:
What are your tricks for baking with wheat flour?
p.s. If you like look of the recipe, please don’t let this ‘review’ discourage you. I’d love to see anyone else’s results with the original or a tweaked version!