Lemon recipe proves to be ray of sunshine

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, July 1, 2017

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Bad Baking

BAD BAKING – Reporters Racey Burden and David Talley tried their hand at baking muffins, only to discover their talents are best used elsewhere. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Do you know the muffin man? Because I don’t, but I’m pretty sure his mild-mannered alter ego doesn’t work at the Messenger.

This week David and I decided to have a muffin baking contest. We’d never made muffins before (at least not from scratch), and now we probably never will again, but at the time it seemed like a good idea. We’re always hungry in the office, and there aren’t a lot of quick breakfast food options on the Square (we eat Fuzzy’s breakfast tacos distressingly often). So why not make muffins?

Racey Burden

I decided to make lemon poppy seed muffins (because those are my favorite) and chocolate muffins (because I like chocolate). I already had most of the ingredients, though I stood in front of Walmart’s herbs and spices section for at least five minutes before I finally found poppy seeds. Making the poppy seed mix was actually a fairly quick process, and I was satisfied with the way they turned out. I kind of thought at that point that I had this contest in the bag.

Then came the chocolate. I picked a recipe online that promised moist (Don’t you hate that word? It’s a very popular word for recipe bloggers) muffins, full of rich, chocolaty taste. Cool, I thought. That sounds good.

The recipe was crap. I followed it to the letter and ended up with a crumbling, dry, clumpy mix. This is false advertising, I thought. This is not at all moist, muffin blogger.

So I improvised. I used to bake all the time in college, being the unofficial mom friend of my little clique, and at one point in time I prided myself on adding ingredients to a recipe and making it better, not worse. I do think the extra butter and the yogurt I threw into this particular mix made it better, but not by much. I ended up rolling the muffin mix into the pan like it was cookie dough, which is not how I think muffin mix is supposed to look. My previous baking experience was mostly cookies, brownies and fudge, so I’ll admit I’m no expert in the breakfast desserts arena.

I tried the muffins when they were done, and I knew, I knew the chocolate was too dry. But I’d agreed to enter two muffins in the contest, and I ain’t no quitter.

The judges, our coworkers, were predictably not impressed. Leisa Gage from advertising decided that all of our offerings were terrible and told us not to quit our day jobs. Someone wrote a frowny face on one of the scoring sheets. Whatever.

Richard Greene, our sports editor, gave a mediocre approval to my lemon muffins, but then Ken Roselle, the office’s resident foodie, told me they were “happy muffins” so I’m going to count that as a win.

I threw the chocolate muffins away, they were so terrible. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses. But hey, the lemon poppy seed ones weren’t that bad. Maybe I’ll make them again someday.

Racey Burden is a Messenger reporter.

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