Baking Muffins - MmmMmmmHmmm!
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Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Baking Muffins - MmmMmmmHmmm! on 09/20/2009 15:52:52 MDT Print View

Today I decided to give baking some muffins a try in my kitchen, rather than experiment with something like this in the field.

To cook the muffins, I used my FeatherFire alcohol stove (45g), a homemade windscreen (15g) and heat reflector (2g) and an older HAA pot. That's 62g or 2.2oz of stove equipment plus the pot.

I filled the FeatherFire with 43g of methanol (nearly 2 fluid ounces). I then grabbed a fairly flat rock which just happened to fit nicely into my pot. The rock surface was fairly level.

I used some banana muffin mix, the kind that requires only water. I mixed up a bit and put it in a aluminum tart cup. The aluminum cup only weighed 1.5g (or 0.05oz).

Here's everything all set up:

Muffins Step 1

Having never done this before. My primary concern was burning the bottoms of the muffins long before they were cooked inside. Accordingly, I lit my stove and set it very low. I opened just 1 full turn (max is 5 full turns). So that's about 20% throttle.

I checked on the muffins after 10 minutes. Things seemed to be going well, but the muffins were in danger of spilling over the rim because they weren't totally level. I spent a few minutes getting them more level with some tiny pebbles.

After 15 minutes they looked like this:

Muffins Step 2

After 20 minutes they looked like this:

Muffins Step 3

They were starting to look good, but a toothpick revealed they were still gooey inside, which the top of the muffin also indicated.

I gave them another 10 minutes (30min total) and they seemed to be done. A toothpick came out clean so I shut the stove off and took them out of the pot.

Muffins Step 4

They were looking pretty good, but I was still nervous they would be hard to get out of the tins and/or burnt on the bottom. To my joy, the muffins came out easily and looked perfect. Check out this culinary perfection:

Muffins Step 5

I let them cool for a few minutes and then took a deep bite to see what they looked like in the middle. Honestly, the muffins are as good as I could ever do at home. They were moist, fluffy and cooked all the way through. Hugely delicious.

Muffins Step 6

With the muffin devoured (and the other saved for my wife), I weighed my stove again to see how much fuel I had used. The result: 28.4g of methanol was used to cook these muffins for 30 minutes.

Going forward, I'm definitely going to try this on the trail. Since the bottom of the muffin wasn't burnt in the slightest, I will likely use a bit more throttle next time with a goal of cooking them in 20 min instead of 30 min. That's still a lot of time though so these aren't exactly suited for adventure racers.

One area for improvement is the qty/size of the muffins. It would be nice (and more efficient) to make more at once. I could almost fit 3 muffins into my pot but not quite. Having just one muffin of these size is really just a teaser. If I ate both it would have been a decent contribution to a meal. Perhaps in the future I could mix up the dough a bit thicker and thus fill the tins a bit fuller. Ideally, it would be nice to find deeper cups. I wonder how well a large meat pie tin would work. It might be hard to cook to the middle, but it would give you a lot more end product.

BTW, The FeatherFire stove rocks. 30 minutes of cooking on one ounce of fuel (or 1.3 fl oz). If I filled this stove up with 2 fl oz I could bake or simmer for over 45 min. I wonder if could do lasagna?

Edited by dandydan on 09/20/2009 16:14:20 MDT.

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: Baking Muffins - MmmMmmmHmmm! on 09/20/2009 16:40:22 MDT Print View

Way to go, Dan!!

I've tried doing the same at home, too and I have yet to take the full setup on the trail....bummer.

I love my Caldera / Ti-Tri and need to see if I can bake with it.

Your pics sure made me hungry.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Simmer on 09/20/2009 16:48:37 MDT Print View

The simmering function of the FeatherFire seems really handy for baking. It would be interesting to see how they cook at full blast. The aluminum tin seems to do a great job reflecting the heat. The edges of the muffin top were darker than the sides/bottom of the muffin so the tin is definately helping here. It's probably better to use tins like this rather than paper muffin cups which are more floppy and don't reflect the heat as much.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
mmmuffins on 09/20/2009 17:53:51 MDT Print View

awesome... I need to get a FeatherFire... that's a perfect little stove.

by the way - silicone muffin cups work really well too

JJ Mathes
(JMathes) - F

Locale: Southeast US
Re: mmmuffins on 09/20/2009 20:54:22 MDT Print View

Laurie- where do I find silicone muffin cups???

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: mmmuffins on 09/20/2009 21:00:30 MDT Print View

You can find silicone muffin liners in most stores that sell kitchen gear and on Amazon. Wilton sells quite a few, including the well known Silly Feet that have, well, feet!

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Re: Re: mmmuffins on 09/21/2009 15:54:05 MDT Print View

JJ - I just bought a couple sets (6 muffin cups in each) from the local grocery store. They were $4.00 for the set. Check out the baking section of a department store like Sears or Walmart too.

Here's a photo of my muffins after baking... we were on a wilderness lake in the middle of Algonquin Provincial Park. Now these were made in an Outback Oven because I was cooking for a group and using a white gas stove on that trip.

silicone muffin cups in use

inside of the muffins

Edited by Laurie_Ann on 09/21/2009 15:59:21 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Silicon vs. Aluminum on 09/21/2009 19:42:34 MDT Print View

Wow...nice muffins!

So how does silicon stack up against aluminum? It seems like the silicone would be more durable and less likely to get damaged in your pack, but it also looks heavier. The Silicone seems a bit easier to get the muffins out of since you can invert it, but the foil was pretty easy too. The foil looks like it would hold it's shape a bit better when you are lowering the raw muffins into the pot.

Got a weight on the silicone cups? As mentioned, my aluminum foil ones were 1.4g (0.05oz) each.

Edited by dandydan on 09/21/2009 19:43:11 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Silicon vs. Aluminum on 09/21/2009 20:39:57 MDT Print View

Silicone will weigh more but is quite durable, easily washed up and removal is easier.

While silicone will be flexible when putting in the pot just don't over fill and you won't have issues. You can also put the liners in first, then fill.

JJ Mathes
(JMathes) - F

Locale: Southeast US
baking muffins on 09/21/2009 21:03:59 MDT Print View

all of the muffins look so good

Dan- what's the purpose of the rock inside the pan?

Patrick Caulder
(pcaulder) - MLife

Locale: SouthEast
Silicone Cups on 09/21/2009 21:04:18 MDT Print View

I know you can get the Silly Feet ones from Micheals the craft store. They work pretty good, too.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Silicone Cups on 09/21/2009 21:27:08 MDT Print View

Yep! And also at Bed, Bath and Beyond usually (also Jo-Anns Fabrics).

I love my Silly Feet, I use them for steam baking. No need for rocks as risers (I saw the question on why rocks used) - if you don't use a riser of some sorts for either steam or dry baking you can burn the item being baked.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Re: baking muffins on 09/21/2009 22:34:57 MDT Print View

what's the purpose of the rock inside the pan?
The bottom of pot can get extremely hot (since it contacts the flame directly) so it would probably burn the bottom of the muffins if you set them directly on the pot. You can get things that raise up the baked goods (ie. grills that fit into your pot) but rocks also work pretty well to diffuse the heat and they don't add any weight to your pack since you can grab them pretty much anywhere.

James Byrnes
(backfeets1) - M

Locale: Midwest.... Missouri
baking in small pots (550) on 09/22/2009 00:14:06 MDT Print View

Does the temperature of baking in small pots warp the metal????

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Warping on 09/22/2009 01:55:55 MDT Print View

It probably could....if you used a traditional alcohol stove on full blast then it seems like there's a real chance it could. Kinda depends on your pot too. I'm not sure which metals warp most easily.

Jeff Antig
(Antig)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: baking in small pots (550) on 09/22/2009 02:12:08 MDT Print View

Yes it will. Almost whenever you cook without liquid in your pot, the bottom will warp. When I cook muffins, I usually have the rocks and some water in the pot. The muffins will be steamed but my nice pot will still be nice.

I find that I never liked baking muffins in muffin cups. I usually just make a giant muffin-cake sort of thing.

EDIT - Smaller pots, like the 550, are less susceptible to warping than say, a MSR Titan Kettle.

Edited by Antig on 09/22/2009 02:13:31 MDT.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
silicone vs aluminum on 09/22/2009 05:54:07 MDT Print View

okay... just had my scale out... the weight between 2 of my silicone muffins cups and 2 of the aluminum ones was less than 0.25 gram (my scale isn't more precise than that because it isn't digital - sorry).

The thing is that silicone ones I have don't have the ones with the goofy feet. They are cute but those feet add weight.

The silicone liners last for decades so overall that is better for the environment too.

They are also flexible so they don't get munched in the pack - even if you squish them badly they come right back to shape. And they take up less space than their aluminium foil counterparts.

Silicone is also a non-stick surface so muffins come out much easier without the surface having to be greased. This isn't an issue with a plain batter but if you have something with dried fruit and the like sticking can be an issue.

edited... to add a missing word

Edited by Laurie_Ann on 09/22/2009 05:57:00 MDT.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
baking on 09/22/2009 06:06:31 MDT Print View

Also, I meant to mention that Sarah is right about the need to add water to the bottom of the pot if you aren't using a riser. You can easily make a riser if you prefer to dry bake. I have one that is simply made from the same type of foil that MSR makes wind screens from. It is two longer pieces of the foil that are one inch wide. There is a slit in the centre of each piece that goes three quarters of the way through. This allows me to make the pieces into a plus.

Then I have another piece of ths same foil cut in a circle that I sit on top of the plus. This reflects some of the heat back down so the baking doesn't burn (much like the idea of the riser that came with the Outback Oven).

I still use something inside to raise what I am baking up... this allows for air to flow around and create the oven effect whereas with the Outback Oven I use the fabric convection hood to acheive the same thing eliminating the need to raise the food up.

And another photo to make you all hungry this morning... (I don't use the stainless steel pots anymore except for car camping - too darn heavy... this was about 10 years ago and they are cinnamon raisin dots that served 4 people for breakfast on a more relaxed day).
cinnamon dots

edited to add a photo and this...

While I do have a lighter weight approach to food - it isn't UL and my personal decision is that I'm not about to trade in good tasting food or variety on our trips for mere calories (like just eating straight pb or lard as I've heard some UL hikers do - I can't do that)... so my way of doing things isn't for everyone.

Edited by Laurie_Ann on 09/22/2009 06:13:06 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Warping on 09/22/2009 08:12:52 MDT Print View

You want to be wary of warping with thin pots. Especially Ti which can get red hot faster than you would think it can.
This is one reason I steam bake - I have warped a too pricey Ti pot (not that I cannot use it or anything, but hoo, it does not sit flat anymore!)

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Warping on 09/22/2009 13:08:17 MDT Print View

Do you think my Ti pot would warp doing what I did? I used a HAA pot for this and it didn't seem to be that hot or get warped because the stove was on pretty low.

Is there some way of adding something to the pot besides water to minimize this? I'm thinking maybe dirt and then a big rock? Or would dirt bake on? Maybe some small pebbles/gravel in the bottom and then a big flat rock?