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Make Ahead Batters


mmarks
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I run a very small teahouse and offer a few home-baked goods to accompany the tea. The kitchen is tiny and I can only bake a few items at a time, and I don't sell very much. Nevertheless, my customers like the fact that the items are fresh and home-baked, and it's important to me to continue to offer the stuff, and to have a variety of choices available.

Problem has been that I spend several hours baking each day even though it's only a very small percentage of my revenue. The solution has been to find recipes where I can prepare dough/batter a couple of times a week, and then pop in the oven as needed. It works great for chocolate chip cookies and madeleines, and I'd like to expand into muffins and cupcakes.

I've read the threads and it seems like some people believe batter can last a few days, while others prefer to bake and then freeze. I would prefer not to bake and freeze. So, I'm seeking your expertise, please. I imagine that the issue is leavening (maybe there are other issues like mixing method, I don't know), and that the use of double acting baking powder should help, but does anyone have guidance on great base recipes for muffins and/or cupcakes that will last as batter in the fridge for a few days and bake up great.

Thank you so much!

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do you have freezer space? you don't have to bake and freeze, you can make batters and freeze them shaped and bake off as needed.

muffins

scones

biscuits

cookies

danish

croissant

most of these things freeze very well. you just take out a few at a time and bake them as needed. some might need a little bit of thaw time before baking, like take them out and fridge them overnight and bake in the morning.

obviously with danish and croissant, they are yeasted and so might need proofing time as well. i'd stick to the first few items.

muffins can be portioned into silicone pans and once frozen, removed and put onto sheet pans, wrapped well and frozen. you can then just pop them back into the silicone molds to bake (if that's what you use). you can also just portion them and freeze them in the muffin tins if you have enough to spare and the space to freeze them.

scones, we used to make and spread the batter into a sheet pan. we'd cut them once they were semi-frozen and keep them in the sheet pan. just break off the number needed and separate onto baking pan and thaw a little before baking. brushing them with a little cream and sprinkling some AA sugar on top makes them a little fancier as well.

cookies, all manner of doughs work well rolled into logs (for slice and bake) or pre-shaped and baked off after a brief thaw (not even overnight).

you can rotate your production so that when you run out of one thing you can change the flavor and you won't be mixing and baking all day for something you don't sell much of. the great thing is, you can usually see if you're going to run out of something and bake more off as needed so you can start out with a little less and gradually figure out how much you're selling to minimize waste.

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Fine Cooking had an excellent article in Issue #29 about make-ahead muffin batters. The article is written by someone at a bakery-- sounds like they worked through some similar issues.

http://www.finecooking.com/articles/how-to...in-batters.aspx

I'm not sure if this is free content, let me know if you have trouble getting it.

Jen

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Have you considered using a master mix, like Bisquick from scratch, that can be kept on the side, then add extra ingredients to it to make whatever is next on the menu? Even something like that would be a time-saver. It would eliminate frequent measuring of the same ingredients. The muffins, scones, cookies and biscuits that alanamoana mentioned would fall within that group.

Many colleges and universities, especially those in agricultural states, have master mix recipes as part of their cooperative program. Do a google with the phrase master mix recipe and find one you like. Let us know if you choose one, and which one you choose.

Theresa :biggrin:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

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Many colleges and universities, especially those in agricultural states, have master mix recipes as part of their cooperative program.  Do a google with the phrase master mix recipe and find one you like.  Let us know if you choose one, and which one you choose.

That's really neat, tmriga. I went looking around, and they all seem to call for a shelf stable vegetable shortening. Do you think you can substitute butter, if you refrigerate the mix?

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Yes, The true beauty of master mixes is that, if you leave out the leavening, it can be frozen. Therefore, you can make up a batch with butter, freeze it, measure out the quantity you need for your recipe, and then add the leavening required. You can even bag it up into pre-measured quantities for each recipe. Using cold butter and preparing it in a food processor will give you even distribution throughout the mix.

It's pointless to try to use a master mix that has been frozen after the leavening has been added, because condensation in the freezer will cause the leavening to react. Unless you have a vacuum sealing machine, and are sure all the air is out, you should consider omitting the leavener until time to use it.

Theresa :biggrin:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

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I have done master mixes with butter and levener mixed in and refrigerated. These lasted for several weeks and could be measured and mixed right from the refrigerator.

Never had any problem with them, unless they were left for a couple of months when they would begin to smell like cheese.

check out my baking and pastry books at the Pastrymama1 shop on www.Half.ebay.com

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We make a lot of batters and doughs and freeze in 2 qt containers. Several muffins, scones, sticky buns, etc... Actually, quite a bit of our walk-in pastry.

We make big batches and portion them into larger containers. Then we rotate into the fridge where the batter is used over the course of a few days or a week. When the fridge container gets low, out comes one from the freezer.

It takes a bit of getting used to... getting a good routine going, but it works well.

Stephen W.

Pastry Chef/Owner

The Sweet Life Bakery

Vineland, NJ

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Yes, The true beauty of master mixes is that, if you leave out the leavening, it can be frozen.  Therefore, you can make up a batch with butter, freeze it, measure out the quantity you need for your recipe, and then add the leavening required.  You can even bag it up into pre-measured quantities for each recipe.  Using cold butter and preparing it in a food processor will give you even distribution throughout the mix.

It's pointless to try to use a master mix that has been frozen after the leavening has been added, because condensation in the freezer will cause the leavening to react.  Unless you have a vacuum sealing machine, and are sure all the air is out, you should consider omitting the leavener until time to use it.

Theresa :biggrin:

That sounds really interesting. How do you ensure even dispersal of the leavening agent if you leave it out until the end? Do you mix it with the liquid, and then combine with the mix and other dry ingredients right before baking?

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Yes, actually, that is indeed what I do. My apology for failing to mention it. The only caution for that is with citrus flavors, because they react immediately. Those are not batters that can sit and rest while you prep your pan.

Theresa :biggrin:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

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Thank you so much for all the responses. I'm limited in freezer space as well as space in general so the baking and defrosting doesn't work for me. I read the Fine Cooking article and took it to suggest that with a little additional baking powder, batters will stay good for quite some time. I emailed King Arthur flour because they have a blueberry muffin recipe on their site that is supposed to keep as batter for up to a week. They suggested that any baking powder based recipe will keep. So I used my typical muffin recipe, added just an extra tsp baking powder for a test batch of 12 that I baked 4 of each day. They baked up just as high on the third day as the first and the taste seemed the same to me. I left out the add ins because I didn't want them to get mushy in the fridge, so it's still a little bit of work right before baking.

I am really intrigued by the Master Mix idea. I did a quick search and noticed all the use of shortening so I'm glad to hear that it can be done with butter. I'm going to play around with formulas; if anyone would be willing to share a formula that works for a variety of applications, that would be great. When I find one I like, I'll definitely post it.

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  • 11 months later...

Bringing up an old topic to see if anyone has tried and true make-ahead batters for oatmeal or bran muffins. I need the batter to keep in the fridge for about 1 week to be baked off as required for a coffee shop.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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I don't have one to hand, but there's lots of recipes for bran muffins that are supposed to last six weeks. I've used them in the past with good success. Don't know that I ever had one around for six weeks though. I've also tried master mixes ... the only problem I had was that at the end, there seemed not to be enough leavening in the mix. I've also had muffin batter left over and used it the next day with good results.

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Bringing up an old topic to see if anyone has tried and true make-ahead batters for oatmeal or bran muffins. I need the batter to keep in the fridge for about 1 week to be baked off as required for a coffee shop.

Just bumping up my question for Monday morning.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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My favorite bran muffin recipe comes from Maida Heatter's New Book of Great Desserts; it makes an exceptional muffin - moist with raisins, crunchy from walnuts (the only time I like walnuts in any kind of baked good) and no grit from using bran (it uses All Bran cereal, not dry bran). It calls for a combination of white and whole wheat flour, molasses and honey, whole milk, butter (although I have substituted margarine when someone asked and it worked out ok). usually I keep a bag of the dry ingredients handy and can keep the wet ingredients mixed overnight in the fridge so I can make them fresh in the morning.

It does not qualify as a make-ahead and keep batter that you can have in the fridge, but depending on the size of the muffins you make and the quantities, it might work for you. The recipe as written makes 18 standard size muffins, but I usually fill them a little bit more and get 12. You would get 6 or 8 bigger size muffins; and if this is all you need to make, it might work.... PM me if you want the recipe.

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if you use double-acting baking powder, any muffin recipe should be ok for a week. Although, I would avoid putting fresh fruit (i.e., bananas) in until ready to bake; just because of oxidation.

Karen Dar Woon

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Thanks Ladies!

JeanneCake I was wondering about the whole all-bran vs regular wheat-bran issue. I tested one recipe with all-bran and it made me wonder if people wouldn't miss the grit? I guess fibre is fibre and if all-bran makes it more palatable then why not.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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