Dec 2018 – Blog: Muffins and Cakes

In this post we want to showcase the many bake tests and trials we have completed.

Muffins hold a special place in our heart. The first muffin trial was completed in Phase One of the project, making fat-reduced muffins to impress representatives from the Welsh government and Innovate UK,  to convince them to support us into the next stage of the project and of development. They must have been successful as we are nearing the end of Phase Two of the project.

Within the first few months of Phase Two, the team’s full focus was primarily on making and improving upon our functional fibre as a food ingredient, rather than trialing the many fat-reduced options available, so baking became our first port of call. Muffins were an easy option to consider trialing with the public at shows initially as they are small, don’t require cooking on site, easy to transport and have a good quality over shelf life.

The fat reduced muffins created:

– were similar in crumb colour to the full fat control group

– had an identical texture to the full fat control group

– tasted identical to the full fat control

– were as moist as the full fat control

– had a reduced staleness for the duration of the shelf-life

At the start of July, with the help of Coleg Menai’s Food Technology Centre and our new food safety level 2 certificates, we were able to bake a batch of muffins in a food grade kitchen to  sample ourselves. These muffins were taken to a meeting with the Welsh Government and Innovate UK and they were finally able to ‘indulge on some’ fat-reduced baking instead of just viewing them. I think its safe to say that they were enjoyed.

Anglesey show mini muffins
Anglesey show mini muffins

In August we got to business in the Food Preparation Kitchen in Llangefni and make some delicious muffins in a certified food grade environment, ready for the Anglesey show. The Anglesey show presented an important period for the project, as it promoted the importance of a healthy diet and how this project could be utilized to work in conjunction with a balanced diet and improve upon it within a school environment. As a dessert, school caterers regularly offer sponge cake options with custard. It brings back a nostalgic feeling thinking about all the Jam Sponges and Apples sponges that I ate throughout my time at school. We utilized the sponge recipe used by local school catering companies and amended it to produce a 30% fat-reduced match of batter which was baked into mini muffins to trial at the Anglesey show. As the results from the August post show, the majority of children could not tell the difference, and either preferred the fat-reduced option or had no preference at all. This was a momentous occasion as it really helped to drive home, how important this was for the children and their parents (who showed great interest in the project), but also that we were on the right track.

As the focus of the project began to turn to other food items, baking was moved to the side for a number of months. However, this month I was able to get my apron back on and back into the baking spirit. We produced a batch of the apple fibre paste from our final fibre batch and I got the chance to take it home and have a baking weekend. I spent many hours in the kitchen, patiently watching the oven but the results were well worth it.

Filtered paste
Filtered paste

The first items baked were the Catering recipe muffins, a solid presence throughout this project. Then I got a bit more creative. Following a recipe tested by CyberColloids, I produced a 30% fat-reduced Victoria Sponge cake, along with a full fat version. The fat-reduced sponge had a more natural and wholesome colour to it while the full fat version looked like the yellow of dairy spread. However, both cakes tasted delicious.


But then I did the unthinkable. Left at home with extra paste, I went off piste and went a little further. Using a home recipe for gluten-free carrot cake, I edited the recipe to make a 20% fat-reduced version (I was low on paste) and it was divine. The cake had an amazing flavour and texture but, more importantly, it was so moist! It was the best carrot cake I had ever and will ever make and everyone at the office loved it. This example shows how easy the paste can be incorporated into a recipe. All that had to be calculated was the mass reduction of fat (in this case vegetable oil) and the mass of paste to replace it. Also, a sin free treat was an easy way keep office spirits high in the lead up to Christmas!