Monday, April 21, 2008

The Psychology of Muffins

I make really good muffins. I'm not bragging, it's just fact. And it's my job, or part of it. Granted I still haven't figured out how to get them to reliably dome on top, but they taste really, really good. They're made from scratch with real butter from recipes I've adapted or developed.

About a year ago I tried an experiment with my banana coconut muffins. The recipe calls for two cups of all-purpose flour, I replaced one cup with a cup of whole-wheat flour to add some fiber/nutrition to the mix. There was no change in taste or texture, so I deemed the experiment a success and have continued to make them that way. It wasn't something I mentioned to guests, I just did it.

One morning last fall, after watching several guests look at the muffins on the buffet and pass them by, I spoke up. "These muffins are made with whole-wheat flour" I said. Immediately two or three of my guests got up and got muffins, which they proceeded to inhale enjoy. Interesting. I had thought a lot of my guests pretty much left their diets at home and ate what they wanted on vacation, but clearly the desire to eat healthy will stop some from enjoying a treat unless they think there might be some nutritional value to it. Since I was making them with the whole wheat flour anyway, I've started letting guests know. Muffin consumption has definitely increased. This morning, seven guests ate ten peach muffins.

For anyone wanting to make this substitution, whole wheat flour is darker than all-purpose so if there's already something in the batter that makes it dark, like bananas or mashed peaches, it works fine. I wouldn't add it into my blueberry muffins, which are white except for the berries (and I like them that way), but if you don't care about the color then go right ahead.

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