Sunday, August 31, 2008

baking berry stella

It was because of the leftover oatmeal.

Wait, let me try that again. I wasn't inspired to bake a version of Starbucks Baked Berry Stella because of leftover oatmeal. But leftover oatmeal certainly pushed me in the right direction of creating a recipe that came very close to the taste of the original.

I was inspired because of my love of all things baked, and because I was less than overwhelmed by the taste of the original Stella, despite its cool name and shape (I tried one three times--sorry Stella fans!). And then there was the challenge laid out for me.

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.

calls for some others, on the phone...*

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.

But I couldn't throw it away. Something in the back of my head was telling me I could use it for something else, so I froze it (works well, by the way).

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
I don't profess this to be the recipe to end all recipes. I'm sure there are a number of modifications that can be made to suit your tastes. I've suggested substitutions at the end and you can come up with your own. Your tastebuds will thank you.

[My thanks again to the publisher of the What's Cooking? blog for the basis for this recipe]

2 cups cooked oats (oatmeal)
1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup of applesauce (or any fruit puree - I used apple/blueberry)
1 egg
1/4 cup alfalfa honey
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries (or any other favourite berry)
1/4 cup raw oats
optional: a dash of flaxseed


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.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg and honey. Add it to the other wet ingredients.

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.

Possible substitutions:
  • 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...


Anonymous said...

I noticed that someone posted an ingredient list.

I noticed the first ingredient on the list is oats. Did you use oat bran... that is the only way that I can see the quantity of oats in the patry being greater than the wheat flour.

avra (ivegotfoodonthebrain) said...

anonymous: I've just posted the recipe. I used many of the same ingredients as the original, but staying true to the list was not a key intention (Though I do have more oatmeal than flour in this version..)

avra (ivegotfoodonmybrain) said...

So has anyone made ths recipe yet?? Any feedback??

Anonymous said...

I made a similar recipe this evening turned out well.

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/4 c. Oat Bran
1/2 c. Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 c. Tapioca Flour (found at Henry's in CA)
1/2 c. Brown Sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:
2 eggs
1/2 c. oil (I used vegetable oil)
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbls Clover Honey

Fruit: Frozen Blueberries
Frozen Raspberries
Regular Oatmeal (not the instant kind)

I mixed the wet and dry ingredients separately. Then mixed together. I used a 3 oz scoop to scoop into greased muffin tin. I sprinkled with regular oats, put a few raspberries and blueberries on each muffin. Once oven preheated I baked at 375 degrees until toothpick could be inserted cleanly (I didn't time how long took to bake.

TromBebop said...

I made the "berry stella" directed, but I didn't use honey, I used some raspberry preserves instead, eyeballed a little extra flour and added one egg white in addition to the egg. I also used frozen berries. The stellas turned out fluffy like a muffin, but with the same characteristics that I enjoyed from the Starbucks version. I'm really happy with them. Thank you for sharing the recipe !! :)

2girls&aboy said...

I hate to be a downer, but I didn't feel like these were even close to the original berry stellas. The only things they had in common were they were topped with berries & raw oats. Mine were too deep of a color & flavor, & the applesauce gave them a bit of a gummy texture (as always when fat is replaced with it IMHO). It was much sweeter than a stella too. It was definitely more of a fluffy muffin than a dense & a bit crumbly Stella.