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I need some baking 101

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I know this is probably basic stuff for a pastry chef but I am pretty new to the baking world and am trying to understand more about the science behind it. I have been posting a bit in the catering section here about a muffin business I am trying to start up. I was trying to understand more about why I can get very delicious muffins but not very impressive looking muffins. After a little research on here I found that a lot of people have had this issue and it has to do most likely with my low temp (350ยบ) and that I may be adding too much acid (yogurt & sour cream) and am offsetting the leavening agents (baking powder and baking soda). Also if I understood some posts the fat to flour ratio is rather important too so I wonder if I have too much butter. One thing that I am wondering is that I've seen some different stuff out there for recipes usually calling for one of these sour cream, yogurt, or buttermilk and using either butter or oil but not both. So here we go first I'll give the recipe and then some questions.

The basic muffin batter that I use is what follows.
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 Tbl)
1 1/2 cups sugar (I like to use Sugar in the Raw)
3 Eggs, Extra Large
2 Tbl Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup Milk (I use skim because it is what I have at home)
8oz Sour Cream(or 4oz yogurt flavored for muffin type and 4oz Sour Cream)
2 1/2 cups Flour, all purpose
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
Add extras depending on recipe ex. blueberries

#1 Is there a difference from using something like Sugar in the Raw instead of regular granulated sugar if so what?
#2 What is the difference between using Sour Cream, Yogurt, and Buttermilk?
#3 Also what role does the fat play in this like with fat free or reduced fat sour cream or yogurt compared to good old fatty sour cream? Also consider the usage of skim milk in the recipe should that be a milk with a higher fat content?
#4 What is the difference between using oil or using butter? Can you use a mix of the two or should you?
#5 Can somebody explain the usage of kosher salt in the recipe. I'm not really familiar with kosher salt. What is the difference between Sea Salt, Table Salt, and Kosher Salt in terms of baking.
#6 Also doesn't salt counteract the rising affect of the leavening agent or is that just with yeast? If that is correct should I cut back on the amount of salt used to make it rise? How much of a difference does salted butter and unsalted butter make.
#7 Are there different types of flours that I should try to use. I think the protein count in the flour has an affect on the end product so something with a higher protein count will give more structure to allow the muffins to rise is this correct? Does something with a higher protein count end up being tougher though?

The main issue I have here is a lack of knowledge but clearly not a lack of questions or eagerness to learn. Also my current recipe has a nice buttery flavor and a moist texture that I don't want to loose. Unfortunately it is not rising enough so I am concerned that I will have to give a little.

This is a lot to ask so I thank anybody that takes the time to read this and attempt to answer me.
post #2 of 2
1 1/2 cups sugar (I like to use Sugar in the Raw)

Using sugar while your naked is up to you. Yes, the interaction of how much fat should come into play while using sugar naked. LOLOL:smoking: Sorry, couldn't help myself.

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