Scientific Content- Per Ingredient!
Ingredient #1: Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
Old fashioned rolled oats are a lightly processed whole grain food source that is a good source of fiber. In comparison to steel-cut oats, old fashioned rolled oats absorb more water and cook at a faster rate, which is beneficial for making muffins. (Source 3)
Ingredient #2: Cinnamon
Cinnamon, a spice, is typically used in small amounts for flavor. Though used in small amounts, cinnamon can greatly impact the recipe because of its smell, especially considering that 80% of flavor comes from odor.
Ingredient #3: Baking Powder
Baking powder acts as a leavening agent in this recipe. It is a combination of baking soda and another acidic ingredient like vinegar, which causes the muffins to rise when baked. Unlike baking soda, baking powder allows the muffins to be more acidic and less basic, which will result in a less soapy flavor. Baking powder is also a double acting leavening agent, which means the power reacts once when exposed to moisture and then again when exposed to high levels of heat. (Source 14)
Ingredient #4: Sea Salt
Salt is used in the muffins to enhance the flavor of a recipe, and can minimize bitterness, balance out sweetness, and enhance the aromas of different foods. Sea salt in particular has a coarser grain than other salt types (like table or kosher salt) and is minimally processed, which causes it to retain certain nutrients like magnesium, calcium, iron, and potassium. The texture of the sea salt will contribute to the texture of the muffins, therefore it is important to follow the recipe’s directions to use this kind of salt. These nutrients help to enhance the taste of the salt and the recipe it is added to. (Source 2)
Ingredient #5: Whole Milk
Milk, which is majorly composed of water, also contains carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which impacts the recipe greatly. In baking the muffins, milk can help to moisten the batter, add fat and sugar, as well as improve the color and flavor of the recipe. Whole milk contains 3.5% fat, the highest available variety, which will affect the overall fat content and baking of this recipe. (Source 11)
Ingredient #6: Ground Flaxseed
Ground flaxseed contains various omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fibers, and 70 to 80 times more lignans (which are phytochemicals produced by plants that help to add more antioxidants to the recipe). This ingredient can help improve digestive health, lower high blood cholesterol, and reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Ground flaxseed also adds an additional nutty flavor to the recipe being produced. Within the muffins, it will help to thicken the recipe because of its ability to absorb water and bind to other ingredients. It will also help the muffins from becoming stale, because of its ability to absorb water. Overall, the flaxseed will help to hold the muffins together and keep them fresh for longer. (Source 7 and 15)
Ingredient #7: Bananas
When cooked, a banana’s flavor is intensified, which adds a natural sweetness to the recipe that they are included in. While there are many ways to cook bananas, including them in the Chocolate Chip Oatmeal muffins allows for a natural sugar to help sweeten the muffins. Further, because the banana’s smell is intensified when baked, the muffins will take on the banana’s flavoring, as much of the taste is related to smell. (Source 5)
Ingredient #8: Maple Syrup
When baking, the sugar molecules in maple syrup can cause crystals. This is important when making candy, but in the case of the Chocolate Chip Oatmeal muffins, the crystals formed impact the taste and texture of the muffins. Seeing as maple syrup comes from boiling and concentrating sap, the longer that the maple syrup is cooked will affect the texture of the recipe. Maple syrup acts as a substitute for sugar, allowing a form of natural sweetness in the recipe. It is simple to use maple syrup in recipes because of the 1:1 substitution rate between it and sugar. (Sources 1 and 12)
Ingredient #9: Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a good source of protein and other vitamins and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and zinc. It is a low carbohydrate ingredient that also contains monounsaturated fats, which can help improve a person’s blood sugar levels. It is full of fats and helps to bind the ingredients in the recipe together. It also contributes a strong taste and odor, especially when cooked. Because the peanut butter is so important in binding the other ingredients, it is important to see the texture of the muffins when the peanut butter is changed to almond butter or omitted. (Source 6)
Ingredient #10: Vanilla Extract
Vanilla Extract is made by soaking vanilla pods into a mixture of ethanol and water, and contains the compound “vanillin” which helps to enhance the flavor of ingredients in a recipe. (Source 10)
Ingredient #11: Mini Chocolate Chips
Mini chocolate chips are a mixture of cacao solids and cocoa butter that add an additional flavor to this muffin recipe. They are able to maintain their shape when exposed to larger amounts of heat due to the cacao solids, which don’t melt in higher temperatures. Chocolate chips also contain sugar and contribute an additional sweetness to the muffins once fully baked. (Source 9)
**Photos taken by Lauren David
Scientific Information for each step in baking process:
Prep: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with silicone liners. Paper liners work too. Spray liners with non-stick spray.
By placing the muffin tin into a preheated oven of 350°F, the temperature is high enough to set off various chemical reactions needed to bake muffins. At 90°F, for example, the fats within the muffin batter will melt and begin to combine with gluten proteins from the wheat in old fashioned rolled oats. Gases from the baking powder are also released at this temperature, which causes the muffin batter to rise. At 140°F, the gluten proteins in wheat and the moisture in the batter dry out and creates the dry texture of muffins. At 300°F, the sugar molecules from the maple syrup caramelize. And at 320°F, Maillard Browning reactions occur and causes the muffins to both brown and develop their flavor. Each of these processes occur simultaneously at 350°F, which is why this is the ideal temperature for baking muffins. Using a 12-cup muffin tin also ensures that each of these processes occur consistently within each muffin. (Source 8)
Mix dry ingredients: In a large bowl, mix rolled oats, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.
Mixing the dry ingredients separately from the wet ingredients ensures that the baking powder (the raising agent in the muffin batter), cinnamon (the spice in this recipe), and salt are all mixed evenly before adding these to the wet ingredients. Mixing the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately before combining them together also means less mixing will be required when the final batter is created, which will ultimately produce a fluffier and lighter muffin texture. (Source 13)
Mix wet ingredients: In another bowl, whisk together whole milk and flaxseed. Let these sit for about 5 minutes before adding the remaining wet ingredients: mashed banana, maple syrup, peanut butter and vanilla.
The whole milk and flaxseed are the first ingredients to be added together and are required to sit for about 5 minutes; this process allows time for the milk and flaxseed (which is also refrigerated) to become closer to room temperature. This increase in temperature causes the milk to form an emulsion, which traps oxygen molecules. When baking, these trapped molecules will expand within the muffins and create a fluffier texture to the final muffins produced. When combined with the other wet ingredients (which are all close to room temperature), the warmer milk and flaxseed mixture will also mix more seamlessly with the other ingredients since both bond together more easily at warmer temperatures and produces an even texture within the batter. (Source 15)
Combine: Pour wet ingredients into a large bowl with the dry ingredients. Gently stir to combine and fold into ⅛ cups of chocolate chips.
As stated previously, mixing the wet ingredients separately from the dry ingredients will reduce how much the batter is mixed and create a fluffier muffin texture. The chocolate chips used in this recipe, which are a blend of cacao solids and cocoa butter, contribute fats into the batter that add flavor to the muffins. These chocolate chips also have the ability to maintain their shape when placed into a hot oven for a period of time; because chocolate chips contain cacao solids (which don’t melt when exposed to high temperatures), the chocolate chips remain intact well enough to also maintain their original structure. (Source 9)
- Bake: Bake muffins for 30-35 minutes or until the center of the cups have set and a toothpick comes out clean.
This duration of time ensures that each muffin is baked evenly and consistently, and has enough time to go through each chemical reaction described in the explanation of step #1. Using a toothpick to check the center of the muffins also ensures that they are fully baked, since the center of most baked goods require more time to go through these chemical reactions. The metal pans used act as good conductors of heat and help to cook the muffins thoroughly. For this specific recipe, 30-35 minutes is the amount of time it takes for the batter to be completely cooked.
Sources mentioned above:
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- Corey Williams By Corey Williams April 08, 2021. Table salt vs. Sea Salt vs. kosher salt: What’s the difference? https://www.allrecipes.com/article/types-of-salt (accessed May 1, 2022).
- The Difference Between Steel Cut, Old Fashioned, Quick Cook and Instant Oats. https://www.quakeroats.com/oats-do-more/why-oats/the-difference-between-our-oats (accessed May 1, 2022).
- Flaxseed meal. https://www.bobsredmill.com/flaxseed-meal.html#:~:text=Flaxseed%20contains%2075%20to%2080,the%20natural%20oils%20and%20nutrients. (accessed May 1, 2022).
- Habermehl, L. 6 genius ways to cook (yes, Cook) bananas. https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/cooking-banana/ (accessed May 1, 2022).
- Is peanut butter good for you? health benefits and nutrition. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323781 (accessed May 1, 2022).
- Katherine Zeratsky, R. D. Why buy ground flaxseed? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/flaxseed/faq-20058354 (accessed May 1, 2022).
- Kimberly Holland Updated October 01, 2018. Why do so many recipes bake at 350°F? https://www.myrecipes.com/cooking-method/baking-recipes/why-do-so-many-recipes-bake-at-350-degrees (accessed May 4, 2022).
- Ko, G. Forget chocolate bars: Baking with chips is often better. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/11/dining/chocolate-chips-baking.html (accessed May 4, 2022).
- McCormick Science Institute. Vanilla. https://www.mccormickscienceinstitute.com/resources/culinary-spices/herbs-spices/vanilla#:~:text=Vanilla%20is%20most%20commonly%20sold,popular%20option%20for%20gourmet%20cooks. (accessed May 1, 2022).
- Milk: Dairy: Baking ingredients. https://bakerpedia.com/ingredients/milk/ (accessed May 1, 2022).
- Pour it on! maple syrup is good for you. https://www.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2014/11/pour-it-on-maple-syrup-is-good (accessed May 1, 2022).
- Stafford, G. Why do you mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately? https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/mix-wet-dry-ingredients-separately/#:~:text=Liquid%20ingredients%20should%20ALWAYS%20be,important%20for%20an%20even%20batter. (accessed May 4, 2022).
- Trueblood, A. What is the difference between double acting and single acting baking powders? https://clabbergirl.com/faqs/what-is-the-difference-between-double-acting-and-single-acting-baking-powders-2/#:~:text=In%20a%20double%20action%20product,again%20when%20exposed%20to%20heat. (accessed May 1, 2022).
- Flaxseed: Flour and meal: Baking Ingredients. https://bakerpedia.com/ingredients/flaxseed/ (accessed May 4, 2022).