Jul 3, 2009

Baking tidbits

Just wanted to share a few random baking/food tidbits that have been floating around in my head. Have you ever individually quick froze anything? You know where you chop something up or wash berries then spread them out on a cookie sheet and freeze them and then package them so they come out individually like when you buy them from the store and not all in one huge icy clump? Well I saw a blog post about this and even though I had done it before I was re inspired to try again. It sure makes things so much easier and I think really allows you to maximize the use of your freezer. Well anyway I have been freezing cookie dough in little balls, chopped peppers from our garden, broccoli from our garden and then I decided to try muffins. You know when muffins are the best? Right out of the oven. The tops are crunchy and the bottoms are airy. I always hate making a big batch of muffins and then having left overs that get worse with each passing day. And yes I know that you can freeze already baked muffins but when it is thawed it is still not like when it is first baked. So I gave it a try. I am sure this is not a newsflash to anyone, just me catching up to the rest of the world. Here's what I did.
First I made my muffin batter as I normally would. I put part into one muffin tin and baked them for breakfast. The other part I portioned out into another tin with liners in it. Then I put the whole thing in the freezer to harden. When the muffins were frozen (a few hours later) I pulled them out and put them in a FoodSaver bag and sealed them. (P.S. I love my Foodsaver. I use it almost everyday and I love how nice my frozen food products are without all the added moisture and air). Here is what they looked like.
They kind of got smooshed when the air was all sucked out of the bag but I didn't think it would hurt them.
Then this morning I took out a few muffins to bake. I put them in my pan while they were frozen (I am sure you could do this ahead of time and let them thaw partially) then I baked them at their regular temp (only it took about 25 minutes to bake instead of 15.)

And here are the final product. They turned out exactly like they do without being frozen. I am so excited about this. No more wasted muffins. Now I can bake exactly as many as I need. One side note. I tried this with another recipe (the batter was slightly runnier than this batter) and once the muffins were frozen in the pan I could not get the liners out. I am not sure what has happened. I just left them in the pan and will bake the whole thing at once. I hope this is not a common occurrence. Let me know if you have ever tried this and had that happen to you. Otherwise give this a try.

Second tidbit. Have you ever baked with powdered eggs? I got a can of pasteurized dried eggs because it was on my food storage list and I have seen a lot of good looking recipes using dried eggs at everydayfoodstorage.net, I just haven't ever gotten around to trying to cook with them. This week however as we are getting ready to leave on vacation I was trying to avoid buying eggs and yet had baking to do so I decided to try out the dried eggs. Oh my goodness, how fantastic is this stuff? It was really easy to substitute into recipes, and I really think my muffins and cookies came out better because of it. Even if you don't want to get any for food storage the ease and convenience of dried eggs is worth getting some. And the best part is you can eat as much cookie dough as you want and let your kids eat it to without worrying about food borne illnesses of any kind. I am sold on dried eggs for baking.

Third tidbit. How do you feel about potlucks? I love the concept; everyone sharing, getting together and eating in a group, a lot of variety etc etc. But in general I am totally turned off by potlucks. Why? Well you never know who brought what, what is in the dish exactly, has it been refrigerated properly or kept hot enough, is there something in it that I am allergic too. Well I had a brilliant idea to help alleviate some of the guess work out of potlucks and hopefully make everything seem more appealing. Wouldn't it help if each person bringing a dish were asked to print up a little card that says what their dish is and what the ingredients are and possibly their name and display that along side whatever they brought. This way you know what you are getting and what is in it and even who to go to for questions or recipes or rave reviews. Now why am I sharing this? Well if we all start doing this or suggesting the idea where ever we live perhaps slowly there will be a potluck transformation in the nation and we can all dine more comfortably. I guarantee I am doing this with the next thing I take to a potluck. I really think it will make a difference.
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