As Emeril says on his shows, You can put your own personality into cooking, but it’s very difficult to do this in baking. In baking you gotta follow the formula. That’s because cooking is an art while baking is a science.
I actually did well in science in high school. Me and my late friend Melanie jockeyed for position at the top of the class in theoretical chemistry with a friendly competition over who could get the higher test scores. I could really nail those theorems and apply all the right formulas to solve the calculations. You’d think I’d be able to get baking.
But I don’t.
See, the way I cook is with inspiration (based on a recipe I might have seen, or a restaurant meal I’ve eaten, or simply what I have in the fridge) and desire (what do I feel like eating/cooking?) along with a dose of time constraints (is it 5 o’clock already? I’d better start thinking about what to make for dinner!) and a skew towards healthier foods and cooking methods.
When I apply the same qualities I use when I cook (inspiration, desire, time, healthy) to a baking project, I’m often disappointed with the results.
Duh: baking is a formula, not a creative endeavor! I should know better.
For me, cooking is often an artistic expression, a creative outlet. The problems come when I try to be creative with my baking, too… sometimes successfully, sometimes not. I can’t seem to get it through my head that I must follow the formula/recipe exactly as written to get good baked goods. My stubborn nature gets in the way. I just can’t help myself. Tell me I can’t do something and my first question is usually, “Why not?”
Yet, I still try to bake sometimes. Usually because I see a recipe for a baked good and I get inspired. This should probably be my first clue to set it down and step away from the recipe. But no. I blunder on heedlessly, blithely thinking that I can mold the recipe to my liking and end up with something delicious. As I did last month when I saw a recipe for savory breakfast muffins in the newspaper.
Ham and Cheese Buttermilk Breakfast Muffins, in fact.
These would be great, I thought, to make as mini-muffins and keep in the freezer. Just pop one in the toaster oven for a quick and substantial breakfast. Like a one-pot meal for breakfast. What a great idea! They’re sugar-free, so maybe they’d even be acceptable to my sugar-phobic husband.
Except, well, the ham part kinda disgusts me, so no ham.
And I don’t have buttermilk, so I’m just going to use the same amount of whole milk.
The recipe calls for finely diced red pepper, but I’m going to use finely diced zucchini as well. I’m sure it won’t make a difference.
Oh yes, and to make it a little healthier, I’m going to substitute 1 cup of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour. Just because I’ll feel better about serving them if they have whole grains in them.
Let’s not forget that I’m at altitude, but I have no idea what to do to adjust for this, so I don’t. I like to use it as an excuse, though.
So, instead of following the formula for Ham and Cheese Buttermilk Breakfast Muffins like Emeril says you must when baking, I used the recipe more like it was a guide with suggestions. I’m the kind of person that chafes when told I have to follow the rules. Baking has rules. This should have been clue #2.
The biggest bummer with trying to make baked goods healthier by changing the recipes is that things often go directly to the trash, and I hate wasting food. These were truly inedible. My Ham-Free Ham and Cheese No-Buttermilk Breakfast Mini-Muffins were like little chunks of sandstone. Super dry and crumbly, tasteless except for an overwhelming sensation of cayenne in the back of your mouth.
Next time maybe I’ll try to follow a recipe for baked goods as it is actually written. There’s always hope.
Here’s the original recipe, if you want to give it a try yourself:
3 c all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking solda
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 large eggs
1 1/3 c buttermilk
2 Tbsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 c thinly sliced scallions (about 1 bunch)
1 cup diced ham (6 oz)
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 c finely diced red bell pepper (1 small)
Heat oven to 400 degress. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or line it with muffin cups.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper.
In a medium bowl, whisk togethe the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and butter. Sir in the scallions, ham, cheese and bell pepper.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and use a rubber spatula to mix until just moistened. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan (the cups will be very full).
Bake the muffins until the tops are browned, about 20-25 min. Let the muffins coolin the pan for 15 min, then loosen the edges with a knife and transer the muffins to a cooling rack. Serve warm.
To store, individually wrap the muffins in plastic and refrigerate for as many as 3 days or freeze for as long as a month.
To reheat, remove the plastic wrap, cover the muffin in a paper towl and microwave on high for 30 sec.
cal 248, fat 11g, chol 62 mg, carb 27, pro 10g, fiber 1g, sodium 787 mg
Tell me your results if you try it!