Wednesday, August 19, 2009

King Arthur Flour - Spicy Cheddar Muffins

Good Morning, everyone! I have some very exciting news to share with you today. I recently became involved with a group called BloggerAid Changing the Face of Famine, which is a group of bloggers who are dedicated to making a difference in the face of world famine. You can read more about the group and how to become a member here.

Through BloggerAid, I have also become part of a group of their members who takes on the challenge of receiving products from various companies to test and review on our own blogs. I am thrilled to say that I was recently contacted by the King Arthur Flour company (who, if you are a baker, you know provides us with absolutely the highest quality flours and baking ingredients around!) and asked to try one of their products, their Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour.

Now, you all know the struggles I have at home with providing my family with healthier options (you know, that they will actually EAT) and it is something I struggle with. The white whole wheat flour is reputed to be a lighter whole wheat, that makes lighter-colored, milder-tasting baked goods., what that says to me is heart healthy, whole wheat flour that I might be able to sneak by my picky eaters! Now THAT calls for a celebration! IF it works. And this is my challenge. In the next ten days, I'll be testing a minimum of three recipes using the whole wheat flour and feeding it to my guys (and probably all my ladies at work, too!) to get feedback on how it rates.

For my first experiment, I decided to use a recipe that I found on the King Arthur site, in the form of a savory (you know I'll take savory over sweet any day) Spicy Cheddar muffin.

On the site, King Arthur recommends: "Be sure to use an assertive sharp cheddar. The flavor of mild cheddar doesn’t shine through like extra-sharp does." And I have to say, they are so right. I used the only extra sharp cheddar that I could find locally, and it was good, but I will be making this again when I can find some really nice, pungent cheddar. I also couldn't resist amping up the spices just a bit, and after baking and tasting, the hubs and I bot agree that I could add even a bit more next time.

Next time? Did I say "next time"? Yes, there will indeed be a next time. These muffins were so easy to put together, and baked up in about 16 minutes. Fresh and hot from the oven, we scarfed down several while they were still steaming.
Watching my husband tearing into his first muffin (and yes, he had more than one), I could tell he was trying to do his best to be helpful and was considering the flavor and texture carefully. He was a real sport about it, which surprised me since he has a natural aversion to anything remotely healthy. When he started in on the second muffin, I couldn't stay silent any more, I had to know what he thought. "Mikey likes it!!!" Yep, he sure did. Now, he DID know that these had whole wheat in them, so I am not certain I could have slipped it by him secretly, but he really enjoyed the muffin. He described the texture as being a cross between cornbread and banana bread. I my words, they had a nice texture without tasting gritty, like I find with so many whole wheat products. They were dense without being heavy, and flavorful.

So, I'm calling experiment number one a success - one that I look forward to repeating soon! The next test will be passing something off to my picky little boy. (no, we didn't give him a muffin, he's still fairly sensitive to spicy foods)

So, I'm thinking that for the rest of the experiment, I want to do something sweet, like pancakes or cinnamon rolls, and the true litmus test...I'm going to bake bread. Which should be interesting, you now, since I don't bake bread....ever. But I'm going to give it a try! I expect to still have a little flour leftover after these three tests....anyone have any suggestions for a recipe I should try?

Stay tuned! The next episode of the King Arthur Flour experiment will be coming soon!

**note: I bought this great fluted muffin pan from Wolfgang Puck a while back and hadn't had an opportunity to try it until now.I don't know whether it was the recipe, the cooking spray, or the non-stick pan, but these little guys literally just fell out of the pan. And just look at the gorgeous little fluted pattern on the sides of the muffins! I just love a recipe that works and a cool new kitchen gadget/dish to prepare it in! You know I have a fetish for fun dishes.)
**note: The original recipe calls for All-Purpose Flour, but offers a healthier substitution for 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat. This is what I used for my test.Spicy Cheddar Muffins
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) extra-sharp grated cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) butter
1 cup (8 ounces) milk
1 large egg

*To add fiber to your diet in delicious fashion, substitute 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour + 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur All Natural White Whole Wheat Flour (or 100% Organic White Whole Wheat Flour All-Purpose Flour) for the 2 cups all-purpose flour.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease the wells of a 12-cup muffin pan, or grease muffin papers and place them in the wells.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, peppers, and 1 cup of the grated cheese. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat together the butter and milk, stirring until the butter melts.

Cool to comfortably warm (e.g., it doesn’t burn your finger when you test it), whisk in the egg, and pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Stir just till everything is thoroughly moistened. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them nearly full. Sprinkle with the reserved cheese, then very lightly with paprika, if desired, for added color.

Bake the muffins for 16 to 18 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, cool them in the pan for 5 minutes, then serve and enjoy warm; or transfer from the pan to a rack to cool completely. Store muffins wrapped, at room temperature. They’re best enjoyed warm, so when you’re ready to serve, reheat briefly in the microwave (15 seconds or less), or in a preheated 350°F oven, lightly wrapped in foil, for about 10 minutes.Yield: 12 muffins.


giz said...

Absolutely wonderful post BA - love it and so glad the family loved the muffins. I think I see a thumbs up for King Arthur flour and maybe...just maybe a healthier option.

Bellini Valli said...

Thanks for sharing your adventure with King Arthur Flour with us all BA. I agree that KA puts out a very high quality product.I'm glad you enjoyed and welcome to BloggerAid's View & Review.

Bev said...

Funny that you mention this fine company today since I just received the two cookie scoops and the most adorable, high quality, functional "mini-masher" (a miniature potato masher for fruit, etc) that I ordered from the King Arthur site last week.

Kim said...

Thanks for sharing about Blogger Aid and I really love your fluted muffin pan - super cute! I left another award for you on my site today! Requires you to pass on to 7 people and list 7 personality traits, kinda fun. Also, I got my deep covered baker today, thanks again~~ You'll be seeing it next week on my blog.

ARLENE said...

These look so pretty with their fluted edges and they sound delicious. I love the KA site. Just started using it a few weeks back. They have wonderful recipes and their flours are great.

PJH said...

Hi TM: Glad you're liking that white whole wheat flour. It's my favorite whole wheat - esp. the organic version. And thanks for reminding me about that muffin recipe - I'll have to go back and try it. Nothing like warm, cheesy... anything! Here's a suggestion for your first yeast bread: No-Knead 100% Whole Wheat Bread, which you'll find at Enjoy - and thank for your kind words about our flour. PJ Hamel, King Arthur Flour baker/blogger, on behalf of my 167 fellow employee-owners.

Donna-FFW said...

Love the pan!!

These muffins would go splendidly with a bowl of tomato soup. They sound fantastic!

Ty'sMommy said...

WOW! Thanks for all your great, supportive comments, everyone! As most of you know, I'm not a big baker, so this has been veyr fun for me, and a bit intimidating! I plan on spending my weekend baking bread...and I'm a little nervous about how its going to turn out!

PJH - thanks for the suggestion! I had done a little research and actually, that was the exact recipe that I had decided on because it was so well reviewed across the board! I can't wait to see how it turns out!

bakers said...

White whole wheat flour is the flour I used to entice my daughter to enjoy whole wheat flour. This is my favorite flour to use-hope everyone will try it. The muffins you made look really yummy! Joan@bakershotline

Psychgrad said...

Great review! Your muffins look delicious too. I'd love to try some different brands of whole wheat flour -- my Robin Hood stuff is pretty dense.