I have a trusted recipe I use everytime I need to quickly produce baked goods. It’s one of the first recipes I tried when I started learning to bake some years ago and I have used it ever since. Muffins are a fairly easy business, and this recipe I’ve been following for years is so easy to work with that the whole procedure only implies the use of two bowls and a wooden spoon. You don’t even need a mixer! Probably the most advanced feature in this procedure is the need for a muffin tin, as it will help keep the shape of the muffins and allow them to cook properly, getting the heat from the bottom and the sides, and correctly raising upwards and getting taller, instead of growing larger, as they might if baked without such pan.
So some time ago I was invited for dinner and despite my hosts insisting I didn’t have to bring anything, I felt like I really wanted to. I reckoned that a tray of my trusted muffins would be appreciated. In the mood for chocolate, I decided to make them brown, and since my host is allergic to cow milk, I would have used an alternative. This is what I came up with.
Cocoa muffins with rice milk (yields 12)
- 200 g flour
- 50 g unsweetened cocoa
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 180 g granulated sugar
- 1 whole egg
- 60 g vegetable oil
- 250 ml rice milk
The procedure is pretty simple: in a bowl you just combine all dry ingredients and in another bowl you combine all liquid ones; then you mix and bake. So start by sifting the flour, cocoa and baking powder, then add the sugar to that. In another bowl, crack the egg and lightly beat it with a fork (okay, I lied here: you also need a fork, not only a wooden spoon for this recipe!). Put the bowl on a kitchen scale and add 60 grams of vegetable oil (I use canola oil) to that. Give it a stir and add the rice milk. Keep the contents of the two bowls separated until the oven has reached the temperature needed, that is 170°C. Only when the oven has reached it, pour the content of the bowl of liquids into the bowl of powders and stir it all with a wooden spoon (ha! There it comes!) for about a minute. It is important not to overmix, you just want the flour mix to incorporate, but don’t worry too much if it’s lumpy – it’s okay. Transfer the batter evenly into the muffin tin lined with paper cups. Fill about 2/3 of each cup to allow room for growing – this is very important, as muffins will almost double in size. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
What you want to achieve is a tall muffin with a rounded and mushroom-like top, nicely cracked. In order to achieve this pattern, the oven temperature needs not to be too high, or the top will dry out too quickly and will not break under the pressure of the rest of the batter that will raise as it bakes.
Rice milk gives this batter a really nice texture and a “ricey” aftertaste. The cocoa substitutes beautifully melted chocolate, which would have been a more decadent option but which did not work that time, as I didn’t have milk-free chocolate at hand. Looking on the bright side, this way I made lighter (in taste and fat content) muffins, more indicated when muffins are meant to be an after dinner treat and not a more nutritious breakfast item.