Saturday, March 30, 2013

Square Mini and Whoopie Muffin Experiment


Previously in my Waits N Measures, Baking Pans N Papers article, I mentioned my experiment of using a whoopie pan and a silicone pan that has square wells. I had cake mix powder left from Valentine cake mix cookies for trying this experiment.

I'd not yet tried using cake mix for making muffins. Well, why not try? Use up my half batch of Red Velvet and strawberry cake mix powders. Try a cake-mix-to-muffin recipe. Try a couple of different pan shapes and establish baking times and temperatures. As for pan choices, I had two thoughts:

Square mini-shapes could be cute, especially if the batter flowed over the rim just enough like muffins should. The recipe that came with my whoopie pan made my eyes glaze over—too much information, too many ingredients, too many steps. Soooo, how about using whoopie wells for making Seinfeldian muffin tops? (Take a trip down memory lane about the muffin top episode.)

The Duncan Hines Cake Mix Muffin recipe that I used provides additional recipe suggestions. (I almost always modify recipes that I try.) My only deviation for this one is the cake mix flavor(s), baking pan shapes, and baking time.
My pixstrip shows seven image areas:
  1. Implements
  2. Dry ingredients (flour, cake mix, baking powder)
  3. Wet ingredients (eggs, oil, milk)
  4. Silicone pan and whoopie pan with paper liners
  5. Batter in the pans, not all wells filled, unused liners removed
  6. Baked square (20) and whoopie (2) muffins
  7. Closer look at 8 square muffins and the two whoopie muffins (Seinfeld-esque muffin tops)
In my experiment, I used 1/4 box each of Red Velvet and strawberry cake mixes for making a half batch of muffins. You can use a whole box of any flavor. The ingredients I list make a whole batch, which can yield 48 square mini-muffins or 24 muffin tops. If you try round mini-cupcake pans, the yield number will be similar to using square silicone pans, but the tops might not billow over the edge as much.

Note: Yield can depend on the cake mix weight and recipe that you use and how full you fill the wells.
Implements
  • large mixing bowl
  • medium small mixing bowl
  • mini square silicone pans
  • mini-cupcake paper liners
  • whoopie pans
  • regular cupcake paper liners
  • pastry blender
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • additional spoon for ladling batter if desired
  • rubber spatula(s)
  • cooling rack for done muffins
As part of the pre-preparation, I shaped some regular cupcake liners for the whoopie muffins and mini-cupcake liners for the square minis. For each whoopie liner, I pressed a liner between a peanut butter jar lid or similar size lid and a whoopie well. For the top- and bottom-row square wells, I preshaped each liner by pressing a square cookie cutter into liners that I put inside the wells. For the middle rows, I simply inserted and finger-pressed the liners. (After I dropped the batter in, I removed the liners that I didn't use.)
Ingredients
  • Dry
    • 1 box cake mix
    • 2 T flour
    • 1 t baking powder
  • Wet
    • 3 eggs
    • 2/3 C milk
    • 1/3 C oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place paper liners into cavities.
  3. Pour the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl, using the pastry blender to blend well.
  4. In the smaller bowl, mix the wet ingredients.
  5. Pour the mixed wet ingredients into the larger bowl and stir the ingredients until they're moistened.
  6. Scoop about a rounded tablespoon spoonful of batter into each paper-lined square well or two rounded tablespoonfuls for whoopie pan wells
  7. Bake for about 16 minutes or until the muffins are lightly browned. (Use toothpick test for doneness if desired.) I initially baked for 8 minutes, checked, and baked another 8 minutes. I thought it was nice that both muffin shapes baked in the same amount of time.
  8. Transfer the baked muffins onto cooling rack.
It's nice to be able to use cake mix for baking muffins. The number of ingredients are not much more than baking cakes or cupcakes. The density is only slightly more than cake. In the future, if using mini-cupcake silicone pans, mini-cupcake liners easily fit and work fine. One huge difference between using a mini square silicone pan vs. a mini-cupcake pan—24 wells vs. 12, respectively. With the silicone pan, I put a cooky sheet underneath for supporting the floppiness and in case the batter dripped over. Maybe I'll skip the cooky sheet the next time.

If you don't have silicon pans and want to read up on advantages and disadvantages, two sites you can visit are Silicone Vs. Metal Bakeware and Silicone vs metal for shaped pans.

In my Waits N Measures article, I note that whoopie well capacity is 4 tablespoons (12/pan) and regular cupcake well capacity is 5 tablespoons (12/pan). Enough volume similarity to think of whoopie shapes as flat and wide cupcakes or muffins (muffin tops!).

Thinking that I'm more likely to use the whoopie pan more for baking muffin tops than whoopie cookie halves that the pans are originally for. The whoopie pan might be a really good way to bake muffin tops and not wind up with stems like the ones Elaine couldn't get rid of. :-)

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