Friday, October 24, 2014

Adventures in Baking Week 4: Viral Pinterest Pumpkin Muffins



You know what?

I am TIRED of baking.

And it's not just the last few weeks that I'm talking about...

Last Sunday I made a dozen pulled pork empanadas, one and a half dozen wheat rolls for lunches, another dozen regular dinner rolls, a banana bread, and a roast beef bottom round for sandwiches.

The Sunday before that, I made two dozen rolls, cookies, and the pulled pork that ended up in those empanadas.

Add into that the periodic refreshing of dinner rolls throughout the week (seriously they are so good I can hardly keep them in stock), plus the baking I committed to for this blog, and I am tired of standing in the kitchen struggling with my stand mixer and praying that the baked good du jour will not fall, deflate, stick to the pan, or otherwise be/look gross.

So this week I'm saying SCREW IT and making something super easy instead.

Surely we've all seen this too-good-to-be-true-looking recipe floating around Pinterest and Facebook:

(photo by SkipToMyLou.org)

That's right...theoretically you can mix a box of spice cake mix, a can of pumpkin, eggs, and water into a bowl, toss them into the oven, and get a completely serviceable, even delicious, batch of pumpkin spice muffins.

Now when I first saw this on Facebook about a month ago, I called bullshit. It looks way too easy. It looked (to me) like those "chocolate cake in a mug" recipes: seems like a great idea, and they'll do if you have a condition that means you will absolutely die if you don't have chocolate cake in the next five minutes, but overall kinda crappy and disappointing.

But see above: I am TIRED of baking.

So we're going to give it a shot.

Click "Read More" to find out how this little experiment went...





First of all, I willingly admit that I immediately made a substitution. Money is tight (I am literally counting pennies over here) so I went with the cake mix that was on sale; and unfortunately, the Spice Cake was not among the sale items. So I got a regular yellow cake with the intention of adding pumpkin pie spice to it. Easy enough.

Also, based on my baking fatigue and the absolute success of last week's baking venture, today's Adventure in Baking is brought to you 100% by my 10-year-old daughter.



Ingredients: Assemble!!


The directions were so simple, I continued distrusting it. 

Including 1/4 cup of water, mix all ingredients together. Pour into a buttered muffin tin. Bake 12-17 minutes at 350F. 

And done. I mean there isn't even that much to say about it. 

While I cooked dinner, kiddo n├║mero uno whisked the yellow cake mix (which was, interestingly, not yellow coming out of the box) with 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice. To be honest, if you don't much like pumpkin pie spice, don't use that much. We happen to love it so we purposely overdid it. 



Then she dumped in the full can of pumpkin. 


I had some great pictures of her cracking the eggs like a pro, but I accidentally deleted them. :(

Anyway she stirred it all together with the water and it looked like this:


Kiiiinda awesome. And it smelled pretty amazing. I was starting to believe!


I have never in my life dropped batter into a muffin tin better than she did. 


She looks devious but she's actually proud of her work. 

After 12 minutes in the oven a knife tested clean and they looked like this:


Not bad...


Time to take a bite...


Okay here's the verdict:

The texture? Awesome. They're fluffy. They're moist. They're light and airy. 

The taste? Meh. Tastes like boxed cake mix. A little bit of a chemical aftertaste. But if you don't have a problem with boxed cake mix, you're golden!

All told...success! Definitely a good recipe to have on hand when you need to pop out a dozen or so muffins at the last minute! I wouldn't make them if I had time to make muffins from scratch, but I won't discard easy-looking recipes from now on!

Crucial Update:

So after kiddo made these muffins last night, I draped a cloth over them and left them on the counter. I do this with bread all the time, and it didn't occur to me that it would be a bad idea to do that with these muffins. It is!!! The next-day muffins are just awful. They're squishy and there's a sharp, artificial aftertaste to them. Not good! So I would definitely recommend sealing these up in baggies and storing in the fridge...or only making them when you can be relatively sure they will all be eaten the first day. 



XOXO




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