Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins are delicious and moist and filled with a wonderful cream cheese filling. But this post will serve a secondary purpose–explaining what baking soda and baking powder do in a recipe.
Today I’ll share the recipe for my favorite pumpkin cheesecake muffins…and explain how I screwed it up. Because mistakes happen in baking. A lot.
If you do any amount of baking, then you’re familiar with baking powder and baking soda. At least a little. Both are chemical leavening agents, which just means they cause batters to rise when baking by producing carbon dioxide to enlarge the bubbles that are already present within the batter. In short, these are what give cakes and muffins their fluffiness.
The baking powder we use today works in two stages. First, it reacts with the liquids in the batter, creating the carbon dioxide. The second stage happens during baking, when heat causes the gas bubbles to expand. Because it works in two stages, batter that has baking powder in it can sit for a few minutes before being baked.
Adding too much baking powder will cause the batter to rise quickly and then collapse in the center. It will also make your baked goods taste bitter.
Baking powder doesn’t start to weaken for 6-12 months, as long as it’s kept in a cool, dry place. To test baking powder, mix 1 teaspoon with 1/2 cup of hot water and stir. It should bubble immediately.
Baking soda is about four times as strong as baking powder, so any time you use it in a recipe instead of baking powder, it’s because there is an acidic ingredient (ranging anywhere from vinegar to chocolate–yes, chocolate contains acid). It only has one stage–it reacts as soon as it’s mixed with a liquid. So, unlike baking powder, batter containing baking soda needs to be baked immediately.
Too much baking soda will make your baked goods taste soapy.
Baking soda has an indefinite shelf life if stored properly (in a cool, dry place like the refrigerator). To test its effectiveness, mix 1/4 tsp with 2 tsps vinegar. It should bubble immediately.
Have you ever wondered why you add both to some recipes?
Well, when baking soda and baking powder are both used in a recipe, the baking powder is used for the leavening and the baking soda is used to neutralize acids, which creates tenderness (in this recipe, the acid is brown sugar–molasses contains acid and brown sugar contains molasses, so baking soda is called for). So if you have both in a recipe, you can delay putting it in the oven since the baking soda will only do a little bit of leavening.
So…what happens when you add too little of these ingredients?
That’s what I found out this weekend. -_-
Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsps cinnamon]
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 2 tbsps sugar
Step 01: Preheat your own to 350°F. Mix the ingredients for the muffins together, starting with the brown sugar and working your way down the list. Blend well after each addition.
Step 02: Spoon batter into a greased muffin tin, only filling each cup halfway. Make a small well in the center of the batter. In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese and the sugar together. Spoon 1-2 tsps of cream cheese into the center of the muffin batter. Top the filling with the remaining batter.
Step 03: Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack.
My good measuring spoons were dirty and, for some reason, it slipped my mind to just wash and reuse them. Instead, I pulled out my old plastic ones that no longer have measurements written on them. I guessed at which one was the 1/2 teaspoon…and, though I usually guess correctly, this time I was wrong. They were only about 1/4 teaspoon.
Basically what happens if you don’t add enough baking powder/soda is the muffins don’t rise enough. I can tell I didn’t add too much because they would have fallen and created a crater in the center. Instead, they just…didn’t rise (though you can see where they attempted to), so the muffins were even in height.
Even though these didn’t come out as fluffy as they were supposed to, they were still very good. They have a nice flavor. So I definitely recommend giving them a shot! Just be sure to measure your ingredients correctly. 😛
This isn’t even close to the biggest mistake I’ve made in baking. I once accidentally quadrupled the amount of butter that was supposed to go into a cake. That was a disaster. -_-
Anyway, I think it’s time for me to buy a second set of measuring spoons. 😛
What’s your biggest baking mistake and what did you learn from it?