Saturday, 23 June 2012

Chocolate Brownie Muffins - Baking Mad

I expect most food bloggers receive promotional emails offering free goodies in return for a mention in a blog post. I've only taken advantage of these twice before - once to receive a charity recipe book, and once for free samples of one of the low sugar/stevia products. I don't like feeling obligated to cook or write about something in particular, which stops me taking up a lot of the offers I get - they just don't fit into my style of cooking or the general theme of the blog. However, the ongoing campaign for Baking Mad caught my eye - bake from a selected bunch of recipes from the Baking Mad site and receive a book by Eric Lanlard.

I'm only peripherally aware of Eric Lanlard, as I don't watch many of the food programmes on TV - we only bought a Freeview box just before the digital changeover, and I still try not to watch TV during the day. My impression of him is of a French patissier whose recipes looked amazing, but far too complicated for the average cook to follow. This certainly isn't true of all the recipes on Baking Mad, but then, they are not all Eric Lanlard recipes; he seems to be associated with the site through the name of his TV series, but the site itself is run by a conglomeration of food companies such as Silver Spoon, Billingtons and Allisons - are all these owned by the same parent company? Yes - they are all under the Silver Spoon umbrella!

The Baking Mad site seems to give extensive coverage of all aspects of baking, with several ways of looking for particular types of recipes - from Cakes and Pastry recipes through Jams and Chutneys, to gluten free baking. There's a section on Kid's Cooking as well as baking tips. There's also a community area, where you can join in discussions on baking. As well as Eric Lanlard recipes, there are others contributed by TV cooks, although the vast majority have no noted contributor, other than 'bakingmad'.

One of the choices on the list provided was for something from the range of muffin recipes on the site. I chose these Chocolate Brownie Muffins because they looked quick and simple to make, and were relatively low in both fat and added sugar. I followed the recipe exactly, only substituting hazelnuts for the pecans in the recipe, so that FB could eat them. The recipe was as simple as it looked, although I couldn't find an explanation of the electric oven temperatures - I had to assume the first was for a conventional oven and the second for a fan assisted oven. There was also the puzzle of the additional ingredient - 50g of dark muscovado sugar  - which wasn't used in the recipe. Perhaps it was an option to increase the sweetness, if preferred. The muffins could certainly have done with the extra sweetness, but I would have liked to read something in the recipe which explained this!

Now, you will know by now that muffins aren't my forté, so it's possible that someone else would get a better product, but I found these a little on the dry side, and although they were light in texture, they didn't rise much. They were also nowhere near as chocolatey as a good muffin should be - the addition of some cocoa to the batter, and some chocolate chips stirred through, would have improved this. The cooking temperature also seemed a little on the high side - the muffins looked a little overdone even on the minimum cooking time!

I certainly can't dismiss the whole site on the basis of one recipe which wasn't a complete success. I'll try another recipe - perhaps one by Eric Lanlard himself - and I will add the site to my list of sites to search when I'm looking for new ideas. I've already wasted spent a lot of time there! From what I've seen, the majority of the recipes are quick and easy to make, and don't need unusual or hard to find ingredients.

9 comments:

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

What a very honest review. I too received this request email but I haven't yet had the chance to try anything out yet. I have never been hugely successful with muffins myself but these do look rather lovely. I bet a nice sweet chocolate sauce would be a nice addition to help them go down!

Jean said...

I know what you mean about disappointing recipes. I find it irritating when websites have badly written recipes and when you do try them they don't meet expectations. Magazine recipes are guilty of the same I think.
These look lovely but appearances aren't everything.
I'm not a fan of M.Lanlard myself either but his cakes do look gorgeous.

Suelle said...

Chocolate sauce is a great idea, Dom!

Katie said...

Great honest review. I'm not good at baking muffins either, I love eating them but can never get the right texture. The extra sugar would probably help the moistness too as sugar helps retain water in a recipe. Maybe it was mistake in the recipe? I think they look delicious all the same!

Caroline said...

I haven't really looked round the website much, being slightly sceptical of websites hosted by large corporations (especially those with multiple companies under one umbrella parent company) but perhaps I will have a look later. It would be interesting to know the origin of the recipes posted by 'bakingmad'. Good review! I know you often aren't happy with muffins but these look pretty tasty to me!

Fionnuala's Kitchen said...

Thanks for pointing me in the direction of this site, many happy hours lie ahead! Funny recipe that, with the 50g of sugar just left hanging there. It is strange that they did not rise more with self raising flour and baking powder in it, but you are an experienced baker and if you can't get the picture perfect results, then who can? Off to view the site, hope it keeps raining........ ha ha!

snowy said...

I've tried a few recipes from Baking Mad and they've been fine. Am not a great fan of Eric Lanlard and haven't tried any of his recipes. Had a look at the muffin recipe and like you, don't understand what the additional sugar is for. I like making muffins so will try these.

Choclette said...

Given that they are brownie muffins, I expect the muscovado sugar was meant to go in them. So many recipes I come across are badly written and leave out key ingredients or are ambiguous. I've noticed it on the BBC site too. Anyway, the muffins look good.

Built in Ovens UK said...

I was looking around for ideas for a tea party I am hosting next weekend for the ladies at work. I was hoping the chocolate brownie muffins would turn out a success. I will pass up on this as muffins aren't my forte either.