Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Yogurt cocoa muffins

Yogurt cocoa muffins

These muffins had originally to be a cake, a yogurt cake. In fact, with a sort of childhood nostalgia, my initial intention was to prepare the cake which probably represents my very first approach to baking. Actually this yogurt cake is very popular in Italy (and in France also), probably all moms make it and let their children help, as it is super easy. The peculiarity, if you will, is that all ingredients (to be precise most of all) are measured using the yogurt cup, in particular the "Italian" yogurt cup which is 125 ml (actually now things are a bit different than when I was a child and it is possible to find also other sizes but most yogurts still come in a 125 ml cup). To be honest this way of measuring ingredients is not much different than the US cup-based method...Anyway, even if not so precise (especially if children do the measuring) it is very very easy: no scale needed, no grams, ml or other units of measure; even younger kids can do it. And it's funny too.
In Italy this cake is sometimes called "the 7 cups cake" because all the ingredients sum up about
seven cups; using a 125 ml yogurt cup (corresponding to 1/2 cup in the US system) proportions are usually:
1 cup yogurt
3 cups flour (or 2 flour + 1 corn starch)
1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
1/2 to 3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 packet baking powder (in Italy the packet is 16 grams)
There is also another version of the recipe, that actually I prefer as the cake comes out moister, in which one of the eggs is swapped for another cup (125 ml) of yogurt. These are the basic recipes; starting from one of them it is possible to create different versions of the cake: adding chocolate chips, raisins, dried fruits, chopped nuts, citrus zests, or a combination; flavoring with vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, ...; substituting part of the flour for cocoa powder, and so on.
As for me, since I am not at all a nostalgic person, instead of a cake at the end I made muffins, which also helped me to prepare just half the batter (actually I did not want a large cake which would have lasted too long). In particular I made marbled muffins, adding some cocoa powder to part of the batter, and flavored them with vanilla extract. Also I prefer to measure ingredients in grams rather than in cups (whatever cup we consider) and so transformed the original recipe in metric measures; in particular I used the second of the two mentioned versions of the cake, the one with more yogurt and less egg. Considering that I made half dose, if you want to make a cake (24 cm diameter) just double all quantities.
Yogurt cocoa muffins

Yogurt cocoa muffins
makes 5-6 muffins
1 large egg
125 ml whole milk plain unsweetened yogurt
70 g sugar
40 ml vegetable oil 
125 g all-purpose flour 
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 170° C (325° F) and line 5 or 6 muffin cups with muffin liners (or grease and flour).
In a large mixing-bowl, gently combine the yogurt, egg, sugar, oil and vanilla extract.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Fold the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture, mixing just until all traces of flour disappear - don't overwork the dough. Transfer half of the batter into another bowl and sift in the cocoa powder; mix just to amalgamate. Pour the batter, alternating the colors, into the prepared muffin cups, filling them to the top and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the pan while they are still warm.
Yogurt cocoa muffins


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