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Baking Dilemma, Muffin Madness


greenbean
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I work at a bakery and cafe where virtually everything is made from scratch. Lately, we have been getting complaints about our muffins. Every two weeks or so I make a big batch of muffin base, divide it into five or six parts, and make different flavors. Once they are baked and cooled, we put them in the freezer and pull them out as needed. When they first come out of the oven they are moist and delicious, but, once they come out of the freezer, they sometimes become dry. People have returned them and I need to come up with a solution. One remedy would be to make a smaller batch of base, keep it in the fridge and bake off fresh muffins every morning. We would have one kind of muffin everyday and when they’re gone, they’re gone. This would make it hard for people to buy a bunch of muffins or a variety, but it would cut down on waste. There are also premade muffin batters, but do they taste good, are they cost effective and will they stay fresher longer? (I am not a scratch purist and love box cake, so that is not an issue).

So here is my dilemma: Do I continue doing what I’m doing, do I make just one type of muffin a day, do I move to a premade batter or is there a better muffin recipe out there that freezes well? Or, does someone have a better solution that I haven’t even considered? I know that part of the problem is some people want a muffin that tastes like a packaged muffin. Also, some people don’t understand that I can’t bake off fresh muffins, scones, breads, brownies, cupcakes, etc. every morning and throw away what they don’t buy. I agree that there is nothing like the taste of a fresh baked muffin, but no one wants to pay $3.00 for a muffin to make up for all of the muffins that would be wasted. I want to put out a good product, but what I am coming to realize is that it will have to be something between what people want and what they think they want. In the eyes and minds of the consumer, is a frozen scratch muffin worse than a fresh premade batter muffin?

Thank you.

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Hmm, I did mini muffins and froze them recently. I then served them hot which was key for me. Even re-freezing until the batch was used up was not a problem for these muffins. Are you using oil or butter or what kind of fat? Butter needs to be loosened up after it is frozen because it will firm the texture too much. Butter does not relax enough at toom temp (after being frozen). But just a little heat and it will melt like buttah ha, No but it really will revive the texture.

An idea is to bake them just done, freeze and then would you have time to just brown enough for that day's batch? Not to serve them hot but to just brown off? Perhaps they could be frozen in such a way as to make it easy for them to be popped in the oven. Maybe something like that.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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Butter needs to be loosened up after it is frozen because it will firm the texture too much. Butter does not relax enough at toom temp (after being frozen). But just a little heat and it will melt like buttah ha, No but it really will revive the texture. 

That is a _great_ piece of information, I was never aware of that... Thanks!

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Back in the day, I ran the food service at a community center/school/office type of place - and at a local university. I'd make huge batches of batter - in different flavours - then package them up in liter deli containers and freeze. Every afternoon, I'd pull an assortment out of the freezer and place in the fridge - in the morning we'd bake off an assortment of fresh muffins (as little as two of each type, or a tray of each type if I had orders). Worked like a charm.

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you really have to bake them fresh. Once the product is baked, the starch and proteins are going to continue breaking down regardless of freezing, it will just slow it down a bit. And you are going to lose th moisture once you bring the muffins back up to room temp.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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At the bakery I work at we make our batter, scoop into liners and freeze without any problems. When we bake the muffins, they go in directly from the freezer without any noticable increase in baking time. If you wanted to cut down on some waste, could you do your muffins on a more baked to order basis or if you anticipated larger orders? Also, freezing the batter doesn't seem to affect the overall texture/rise of the muffins. If you have the freezer space (which it sounds like you do) you could give this a try -- I was surprised, but I find it really works well.

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A couple of things: Our batter is butter based, so the freezing does firm it up quite a bit. There is also sour cream which may have the same effect. Freezing them in the liners sounds good, I'll just have tinker with my freezer arrangements. Unfortunately, the smell of baking muffins has too far to waft to make a difference in sales, but maybe I can pipe it up front somehow. Thanks for the help, I'll be doing some experiments this week. By the way, would this also work with scones? I would love to also have fresh baked scones every morning (except I would have to save a few old ones for the English guy who likes them firm)

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By the way, would this also work with scones? I would love to also have fresh baked scones every morning (except I would have to save a few old ones for the English guy who likes them firm)

Absolutely! When I was baking for a coffee house I would make up the scones, shape and cut them, then layer them between wax paper and freeze. The owners would just bake off what they needed each morning and could always bake more if they ran out.

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

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I, too, am a baker at a cafe/market and I'm responsible for churning out the breakfast pastries every morning. To make things easier on myself, I make muffin 'mix' once a week or so and then scoop out and bake off the muffins fresh every morning. Yes, we still sometimes end up with a few that don't sell, but we offer them half price the next day as day-olds.

I also freeze unbaked (but pre-portioned, etc) scones and then bake as needed.

And, in case you want to try freezing other baked goods in their 'raw' state, I regularly make cinnamon rolls and danish, plus these brioche baguette things, and then bake them as needed. The cinn rolls and brioche have to thaw and rise before baking so they're typically pulled out of the freezer and left in the walk-in overnight to save me some more time in the early morning hours.

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