Monday, November 27, 2006

Apricot Soy Muffins

I know the idea of apricot and soy flavors mixed together may not sound all that appetizing and, to be honest, I was skeptical as well. I was pleasantly surprised when these muffins turned out quite well though I will warn anyone who decides to try the recipe that you probably won't care for them if you actively dislike the taste of soy flour. Additionally, your kitchen will be filled with the distinctive, though not unpleasant, smell of soy after baking.

The texture of these muffins is very good and I credit the soy flour in part. Soy flour adds moisture as well as protein. It also can be used as a substitute for eggs (1 Tbsp. soy flour + 1 Tbsp. water per egg) if you're worried about eating eggs for special dietary reasons. Recipes for baked goods that include soy flour generally contain fewer or no eggs compared to more conventional recipes. Soy flour also increases the shelf life of baked goods so it's often added to commercially produced doughnuts, cakes, etc. to make them last longer.

In Japan, you can buy soy flour (kinako) nearly anywhere in Japan in little plastic packets. I'm pretty sure all soy flour in Japan is the full fat variety. In the U.S., defatted soy flour is often on offer because people in the states are much more concerned with fat consumption than those in Japan. In fact, the fat content of food rarely seems to concern the Japanese considering the amount of chicken skin (most chicken is sold with skin but boneless), mayonnaise, and fatty beef and pork that is included in dishes. Of course, they get away with consuming fat in their meals and staying thin because of a varied diet and relatively smallish portions of the "offending" foodstuffs.

The muffins pictured above have a teaspoon of apricot jam in them but I think they'd be quite nice on their own without the jam. They are adequately sweet enough as is and I'm considering reducing the sugar from 1/2 to 1/3 of a cup next time I make them. Here is the recipe.

Apricot Soy Muffins:

  • 1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C. soy flour
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 C. buttermilk (or 3/4 C. of regular milk plus 2 tbsp. distilled vinegar, let sit for 5 min.)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp. canola or other unflavored vegetable oil
  • 6-8 tsp. apricot jam

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (200 degrees C.). Sift the flour, soy flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the sugar and cinnamon and mix the dry ingredients well. In a different bowl, whisk the buttermilk/soured milk, egg, and oil until they are well-mixed. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in all the liquid ingredients at once. Stir until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Spray the bottom only of muffin tins (or use paper liners) with non-stick spray. Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full with batter then place a teaspoon full of jam in the center of the batter. Do no overdo the jam. Put more batter on top of the jam until each cup is about 2/3 full of batter. Bake for 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out without batter on it (there will be jam on the skewer).

Allow the muffins to cool in their tins for 10 minutes. Gently remove from muffin tins.

If your remove them too fast, the jam may leak out or the warm cake near the bottom break away and allow the jam to leak out when you remove them. I had to place them upside down on the cooling rack after taking them out of their tins because the bottoms were fragile while they were still warm. If you look at the muffin on the left in the picture, you can see it's got a couple of indentations across the top where it rested upside down on the cooling rack.

The soy flour had such a profound effect on the texture of the muffins that I think I'll start experimenting with it in sugar-free or reduced sugar recipes. Sugar adds moisture and texture to baked goods which you lose when you reduce it or cut it back. I'm wondering if the soy flour might put back in some of the properties one loses when reducing or eliminating sugar from a recipe.

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