one little stella all alone...
I love a good baking challenge. But I have so little time these days, especially now that the Boo is walking (or rather, running!). And then of course, I had to enjoy the warm, sunny summer weather. But when 50% of your visitors come to your blog because of search terms like baked+berry+stella+recipe, you have to answer the challenge.
To do that, I needed a little help. I love to bake, but I'm certainly not good enough to be able to invent something off the top of my head. Like many a baker, I've learned that correct proportions are very important when it comes to baking. You can overdo oregano or basil in an entree, but mess up the delicate balance between flour, eggs, baking soda and sugar and you may have a soggy mess, or a hockey puck on your hands. I've baked at least one chewy birthday cake in my time...but I digress.
I blame fate for making me cook too much oatmeal. I mean, I've been making oatmeal for myself since I was a girl, and it's become one of the favorite breakfasts in our house, summer or winter. So my instincts for the right amount of water and oatmeal are good. Darned good. Except for a few weeks ago, when I made such an outlandishly large amount of oatmeal there was no way that the four of us could possibly consume it all.
When I had a chance to search google for a recipe, I found one for an oatmeal chocolate chip cake. See, I wasn't even thinking about berry stellas.
But I bookmarked it. And then the wheels in my brain started turning, and the challenge popped back into my head. I compared the ingredients of the cake with the ingredients for the baked berry stella and--low and behold-- they were pretty close. Then I went back to the list of ingredients for the stella and made a few adjustments to the recipe I had found. And then, one evening, I got a few hours to myself to bake it.
It looked good. It smelled great. But I wanted objectivity. I needed taste testers. So I called on my usual suspects: BIL, GIL, my husband, the Bean and the Boo. GIL's dad even joined in on the fun. It wasn't entirely objective, but we tried. We bought two Stellas and cut everything into pieces. I told everyone I wanted a completely honest truth. This was for the blog, after all...
Here's what they told me: the Starbucks Stellas had a cool shape and more berries, but they were chewy, gooey and tasted undercooked. My version was lighter, fluffier and tasted more like a cake (which is exactly what I was going for since I found the Starbucks version was too chewy and dense as well). Of the six testers, only one person preferred the original Stella (and that would be my three-year-old Bean. Total honesty as always ;-))
So now, I'm passing this recipe onto all of you. It wasn't about matching the ingredients and their proportions exactly ( who needs invert syrup with all the other sweeteners in the recipe?). It was about having fun.
Baked Berry Stella, foodonthebrain style
[My thanks again to the publisher of the What's Cooking? blog for the basis for this recipe]
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Melt the butter and mix it in with the cooked oatmeal. If it seems to get lighter and fluffier, that's a good thing. Add the applesauce.
Combine the sugar, cinnamon, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a third bowl. Add the flaxseed at this point if you wish. Mix well and then add to the wet ingredients. Stir until all traces of the dry ingredients are gone (do not overmix).
Pour into loaf tin, or spoon into muffin tins (2/3-3/4 full). I was able to make 12 mini muffins and fill a 8x10 pan. I suspect this would make 12 regular sized muffins.
Top with berries and raw oats. Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes.
- Try 1 cup diced fresh peaches or nectarines instead of raspberries
- Reduce the amount of sugar by 1/2 cup
- If you choose to omit the honey, make sure to add one egg and also omit the baking powder (one egg=1/4 cup of liquid + 1/2 tsp baking powder)
- mix up the flours a little - I used 1/2 cup of buckwheat flour and 1 1/4 cups of wholewheat flour
*with apologies to Sandra Boynton, and any other hippos I may have offended...