* Prices may differ from that shown
I've been at a loss of things to do this week after coming home from university, so when I was out shopping this week I picked up this muffin mix to pass some of the time! I've used Betty Crocker products before and was impressed by the taste and how easy they were to use, so I chose the blueberry variety. Of course, I could have found a recipe online and bought the separate ingredients, but this product was a much cheaper alternative. The Betty Crocker range is perfect for those of you who are too lazy to make them from scratch!
=== Packaging ===
The ingredients come in a cardboard box, which appears quite bulky next to the other cake mixes. The packaging is slightly different to the picture Dooyoo has provided. The muffins appear on a beige background, which makes the text much clearer than the previous design. The new design now had nutritional information on the front, which according to other reviewers, had not been present before. The usual information appears on the box, including a list of ingredients in a number of languages, hints and tips and contact information.
The instructions are easy to read on the back and give you a list of ingredients that are not supplied, which you will need to add to the mix. In this mix it includes 110ml of milk, 1 medium egg and 2tbsp of vegetable oil. All of which I am sure you will have around the kitchen already! The instructions do not give you a list of equipment but it is pretty obvious when reading through the numbered points.
=== My Experience ===
The instructions were very easy to follow. The whole process is told over three steps, and it is pretty hard not to understand what to do! First, you need to drain the blueberries and rinse them. The blueberries come in a tin and you get a generous helping of both the blueberries and juice. There is no ring-pull so you will need a can opener to access them. I found that a lot of the juice poured out of the tin whilst I did this, which resulted in a large puddle on the kitchen surface. I advise that you take care whilst doing this part because it can stain clothing! When rinsing the blueberries, do so gently so not to squash the berries. I used a sieve and poured water over them, I did not bother to touch them at all.
Next, you will need a medium to large bowl to combine the muffin mix and the extra ingredients together. I used a wooden spoon for this part, until it provided a lumpy batter. The blueberries are added in after and you are instructed to gently fold them in, not mix vigorously. This is probably the hardest part (see, I told you they were simple!) and some of the berries did get squashed but nothing that wouldn't have occurred later on anyway! Finally, you spoon the batter into the muffin cases provided. My muffin cases were squashed when I opened up the box, which made them difficult to place in my tin, but once the batter is added and they're in the oven, they soon spread out.
I baked my muffins using a muffin tin, but it states that if you do not have one available, a baking sheet would do because the muffin cases are provided. In the past I have done exactly this and the cakes overflowed from their cases and joined in the middle. I would not call this satisfactory advise from Betty Crocker. Further on (in a small font size) it suggests using silicone muffin cases, which is much more sensible. I thoroughly suggest you invest in these or a tin before attempting this mix.
The box states that they should be in the oven for 18-20 minutes at 200 degrees/ 400 Fahrenheit/gas mark 6. I used a fan-assisted oven so this was reduced to 180 degrees. In the end, my muffins baked for 24 minutes, because when I inserted a skewer in the middle of one, as suggested, to see if it was baked right through it did not come out clean! I left them for an extra 20 minutes to cool.
=== Look and Taste ===
My muffins looked exactly like the ones on the box, which of course I was really pleased with. They had a golden brown top and you could see the blueberries incorporated into the mixture. When you took the muffin out of its case it did not fall apart, as I had predicted, which was also a bonus! They smelt absolutely divine.
I tasted one of my muffins when it was still warm... the best way to sample them, in my opinion. The top was crispy because of the golden brown surface, which was really nice, and then you got to the soft centre. The sponge tasted fresh (of course) and you could really notice a difference compared to the dry, shop-bought varieties. The blueberries still retained their sweet flavour and some of the berries that I had managed to not squash, were delicious when you bit into them. Overall, the whole family enjoyed their muffins, and it made a nice afternoon snack!
=== Price and Availability ===
I picked my box up from Tesco for £2.19 yesterday, but after a quick bit of research, they normally cost £1.98, clearly I have been conned... Some may say that the price is quite steep for 6 muffins, but they taste so much better than the shop bought varieties, especially when you eat them freshly baked. Furthermore, you can add your own ingredients to personalise them a bit. Betty Crocker recommended adding lemon zest, pecan nuts, pumpkin seeds or oats into this mix.
They are available in all large supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury's and they are usually found around the cake isle. There are lots more pre-mixed cakes and biscuit products available in the Betty Crocker range if blueberry muffins are not your thing. I'd recommend the chocolate chip cookie mix and the carrot cake! Both are divine! Their prices range from £1 upwards, depending on which mix to decide on.
=== Nutritional Information ===
Usually, I wouldn't include this section but seeing as it was not previously explained, each muffin (86g) contains:
Kcal = 253 (18%)
Sugars = 21.3g (24%)
Fat = 8.5g (13%)
Saturates = 1.4g (7%)
Salt = 0.8g (13%)
of an adults guideline daily amount. Ouch!
=== Overall Verdict ===
This mix would be great to make with children. I certainly loved baking when I was a kid, and mixes like this help reduce the worst part of baking... the washing up! If you follow the VERY EASY steps, the muffins will look exactly like the ones on the box (you can see my version over at Ciao), which will please your children! The muffins also taste delicious, so you won't be disappointed by this, it's a shame they are so high in sugar content! I would thoroughly recommend you give this mix a try.
[Review may also appear on Ciao under the username Strawberry_123]
And so it came to pass that my sister had to go and see her friend in hospital and needed somebody to look after her two itlets, at which point Uncle Plipplop came to the rescue. "What will I do with them?" I asked. "They like baking cakes - and I'll leave all the stuff for you to do - you'll have great fun", she said, and she was right.
The aforementioned 'stuff' was, in fact, a packet mix of Betty Crocker blueberry muffin making kit. Many of you will balk at the idea of making something like this out of a packet, but please be aware that I am not, nor never will be, a baker and despite my reservations around the nasty content of such a mix, I was happy to play along just this once. With two such excited itlets (they'd been telling their friends that Uncle Flip was coming over to bake cakes with them) it was hard not to go with the flow.
Betty Crocker is a leading American manufacturer, renowned for its sweet, home-baked treats, none of which even have a sniff of anything healthy about them, but all of which are consumed in copious amounts by American households. Betty Crocker never actually existed. The surname comes from one of the company's original directors, but the Betty forename was chosen purely because it sounded friendly and wholesome and entirely in keeping with the brand values. We quickly decided that Betty Crocker sounded boring and now (much to my sister's horror) the children now refer to the entire range as Sweaty Knockers. Chortle.
These Betty Crocker cake/muffin mixtures can be found in all your usual supermarkets. I've seen them in Waitrose and Tesco and a cursory look online finds them in Sainsburys too. www.mysupermarket.co.uk says that they're £1.98 everywhere, but I saw them in Waitrose for £2.14, presumably as it was in London. Anyway, for £1.98 you get enough mixture to make 6 good-sized muffins. You are supplied with the six muffin cases, the muffin mixture, and a small can of blueberries. You need to donate your own milk (that sounds unfortunate), some vegetable oil and an egg. It's pretty straightforward stuff. I actually think the fact that one mixture makes six muffins is a really good idea. It doesn't encourage gluttony (that's just over 1 and a bit each for your average family) and it keeps things relatively simple.
I was astounded at how easy these muffins were to make - and also how child-friendly. My nephew is six, his sister is nine and they both helped out without any disasters and felt as though they were contributing too. It was a good team effort!
All you need is a mixing bowl and a spoon. Pour 110ml of milk into the bowl, along with one medium egg and two tablespoons of vegetable oil. (The box doesn't say whether it requires full fat milk or not. We used semi-skimmed and they worked fine). I allowed my niece to put the egg in (it didn't take us THAT long to fish the bits of shell out) and my nephew poured in the milk. I did the oil. I just had visions of it going everywhere. Then the children took it into turns to stir. (It's funny, that's usually my forte, but there you go). The mixture gets very lumpy, very quickly and it took some encouragement to ensure that all the mixture was worked into the dough and then it was mixed well enough. The good thing is that this isn't one of those mixtures that has to be beaten to within an inch of its life, so it's reasonably quick and easy, although too strenuous for the six year-old once the mixture gets very stodgy. Whilst stirring, it's immediately apparent that the mixture is, in itself, flavoured with blueberries, as you can smell it quite strongly as you stir.
Next up you need to get the blueberries out of the can (a grown up job) and then dispense them into a jug where you can rinse them in cold water and then sieve them just to get the blueberries. At this stage, they look a bit like caviar. I'm guessing that you could use fresh blueberries if you wanted to. (Tip: if you use fresh blueberries, freeze them quickly first and tip them into the mixture frozen. They maintain a much better consistency when baked that way.) Next, you need to mix the drained blueberries into the dough mixture. You have to be careful here, as the blueberries are quite fragile and if you stir like a lunatic, you're more likely to squash them into the dough. So it's more a case of folding them into the mixture and ensuring that they're evenly spread.
The next bit is probably the fun bit and that's where you transfer the mixture to the muffin cases. It's not as difficult as a much runnier cake mix, which would drip everywhere. The mixture is reasonably solid and sticks to the spoon though, so we ended up using our fingers to slide the mixture off the spoon. We were rather cautious with this and did it in three rounds, trying to ensure a fairly even amount of mixture in each of the three muffin cases. The cases are folded in half in the box (not entirely sure why) and are therefore a little misshapen but when you drop the mixture in, it sort of oozes outwards and fills the muffin case, enabling it to regain its shape. Now, theoretically, the muffin cases should be placed in a muffin tray or tin, but we didn't have one and just plonked them on a plain baking tray instead. This probably prevented them forming a perfect muffin shape, but they still cooked perfectly and looked pretty good all in. They take around twenty minutes at 200 degrees (180 fan-assisted) and it's very easy to test whether they are baked or not by sticking a skewer in the middle and seeing if it comes out clean. (We didn't have a skewer and used a teaspoon handle, just as effective.) Unsurprisingly, the kids were intent on watching them rise in the oven, less of a spectacle if you sit and watch them without a break, but it kept them quiet for twenty minutes, so who am I to complain? During that time, we also washed up the few bits that had been made dirty, remarking (as you do) that the kitchen was remarkably un-filthy considering that I had just made cakes with two under tens. When cooked, simply allow them to cool and then you can eat them straight away or store them until you are ready to eat them. I think you can imagine which option we took.
So the muffins smell lovely. As the dough is flavoured with blueberry, there's a strong, relatively authentic smell of blueberry, probably best described as a warm, fruity smell. The tops of the muffins go slightly hard, almost crispy, such that the muffins almost have little caps with softer, moister muffin mixture underneath. I find supermarket muffins a little bland and dry. The sponge mixture used is seldom flavoured unless you go for a double chocolate one, and the way the mixture here is flavoured makes them much tastier. The little blueberries add a nice little tang and, provided that you've mixed them up in the right way, there are plenty to go round, so the muffins don't feel light on fruit. They do have a very slight blue tinge all the way through, which is slightly unsettling but kind of funny too.
They stay very soft and moist for quite a while. We all ate one about thirty minutes after they'd baked, and they were really warm and soft, with all that blueberry smell wafting out. The other three made it until teatime, when they had cooled, but still tasted as though they had literally just come out of the oven. The thing that surprised me the most was how different they were to supermarket bakery muffins. They had a much nicer texture, were more flavoursome and made far less mess (because they didn't collapse as soon as you bit into them. They seemed to come clean off the muffin case too, and I have to say that I could easily have eaten all six myself, I think. They weren't *that* filling, in fairness, more like a large cup cake than a big muffin.
Despite the fact that these were easy, quick and great fun to make, it's difficult to disregard the nutritional issues entirely. All things in moderation is a good rule, but I wasn't that impressed at the ingredient list for these babies.
Wheat flour, sugar, blueberries in water, vegetable fat, dextrose, modified corn starch, raising agents (sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminium phosphate), wheat gluten, salt, emulsifiers (monodiglycerides of fatty acids), flavouring, stabiliser.
It's the monodiglycerides (trans fats) that are the main problem. There are loads of reports of the health issues with trans fats, largely driven by the issue that they're not an essential part of the diet like other types of fat and your body simply doesn't need them. Like most things these days, they are linked to everything from coronary heart disease to diabetes and cancer. Health authorities, however, are generally quite insistent that consumption be limited to a trace, which is probably not the case here. One muffin contains 13% of the recommended daily allowance of fat - and that's based on the fat that is necessary for your diet. The salt content here is quite high too - one muffin also has 13% of your RDA for salt, which is high considering few people would naturally associate a sweet thing with a high salt content. The sugar is even higher of course - 23% of your RDA, and all these percentages are based on adult RDA rather than the child's equivalent.
Clearly these should be nothing more than an occasional treat!
There's no denying that this is quick, convenient, easy and (actually) really good fun for all ages, and I wouldn't begrudge that once in a while, or as a pre-cursor to something a bit more creative (like baking with someone who can really bake, for example) so that you could avoid those trans fats. That aside, the finished product is quite tasty too and I have to say that the kids had a whale of a time - which for two quid, was an easy, cheap and entertaining afternoon.
Things I Liked
* They're very easy to make with very limited kitchen equipment and only a couple of added ingredients.
* They're good fun to make and it's easy for the kids to help and join in.
* They only take half an hour to make from packet to plate.
* They taste moist and fruity when cooked.
* They only make batches of six, so you won't over-indulge.
* They're pretty cheap, at around £2 for the box.
Things I Didn't Like
* The box doesn't explicitly say that it contains the blueberries so you might inadvertently buy fresh ones too.
* The ingredients include trans fats which are bad for your health.
* They're generally pretty unhealthy.
* I guess if you wanted to make quite a few for a party, you'd have to buy lots of boxes.
So recommended as long it's only once in a while.
~How to Spot them~
Betty Crocker Blueberry Muffin Mix comes in an eyecatching red box which has the Betty Crocker logo on the front and a picture to show how the muffins look when prepared.
~How much it costs~
At your average supermarket - Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury's - you can expect to pay about £1.80 - £2.
At smaller stores / convenience stores you should expect to pay a little more.
~What you get~
In the box comes;
1 packet of muffin mix
1 small tin of blueberries (which must be drained and washed)
6 paper muffin cases.
~What else you need~
Extra ingredients needed are;
2/3 cup of milk
1/3 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
~How to make them~
To make the muffin mix you gently stir the muffin mix, sugar, egg and vegetable oil together in a mixing bowl until moist.
Once moist, gently stir in blueberries.
Once all stirred and ready, evenly divide muffin mix among cups.
Place on a baking tray and pop into the oven for 13 - 18 mintues, or until they're nice and golden-brown.
(Oven should be pre-heated to 400ºF / 204ºC.)
Do they look like the picture on the box?
Probably not, no. Muffins are better when they're misshapen and knobbly. It probably does nothing at all taste-wise, but it adds to their charm and gives them that home-baked feel (even if you did cheat) :)
If you fancy something a little different, try this!
Put 1 tablespoon of muffin mix into a muffin case and spread it up the sides evenly. Stick in a dollop of lemon curd, and top off with more muffin mix then bake in oven as normal.
Tastes absolutely delicious, with or without blueberries!
These muffins are fantastic of you're into home baking but not very good (like myself!).
They taste superb, make your house smell like a country kitchen, and are great as a special little treat, anytime of day.
(I could only find this this from the American website so may not be entirely accurate but I did my best!!)
1 Serving: Calories 140;
Total Fat 6 g (Saturated Fat 1 g);
Cholesterol 20 mg;
Sodium 300 mg;
Total Carbohydrate 20 g (Dietary Fiber 0g);
Protein 2 g Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 0%; Vitamin C 0%; Calcium 4 %; Iron 4 % Exchanges: 1 Starch
Mmmmm, muffins. There's nothing like fresh home-baked sweet goodies to make your mouth water, is there? The only trouble is, I'm not the most patient of people, or the most organised - I can never be bothered to get everything together to make cakes from scratch, and by the time I've weighed everything, mixed everything and generally covered the kitchen in mess, I'm usually wishing I'd just gone down to the shop for a kitkat! Yes folks, you are indeed dealing with a very lazy, very un-domestic goddess...
But then, the Betty Crocker range is perfect for the lazier domestic god(dess). They're basically a range of ready-to-make cakes, desserts and other bakery goods which I've seen in pretty much every supermarket from Sainsburys and Tesco to smaller corner shops. I've noticed items such as Devil's Food Cake, cookies, brownies, ready-to-spread icing, and of course, the Blueberry Muffin Mix I'm reviewing now. I absolutely love blueberry muffins, so when I saw these on the shelf, I thought I might as well give them a go (not to mention kid my flatmates that I'd been hard at work baking all day...)
The mix came in a large cardboard box, temptingly printed with a large picture of the very moist-looking and appealing finished product. I must admit that I was a bit sceptical about how they would actually turn out; the muffins in the picture looked so professional that I wasn't sure I'd be able to match up to them!
Inside the box was a sealed plastic packet of dry muffin mix, and, surprisingly, a tin of blueberries in syrup - I was expecting a packet of dried blueberries, so a tin of juicy squidgy berries was a pleasant surprise. The plastic packet opens nicely but the tin isn't a ring-pull, so you'll need a can opener to get it open. There's also a nest of 6 greaseproof muffin cases; reassuringly, they're all substantially larger than ordinary fairy cake cases.
There's also no nutritional (read: horrific calorie content) information on the back of the packet, which is a bit coy of them. I think it's safe to assume that each muffin contains a disgusting amount of calories, fat, sugar and every other nasty and is probably best consumed as a treat only!
~~EASE OF USE~~
On the back of the box are very clearly set out instructions, complete with three ingredient illustrations - you have to add an egg, three tablespoons of oil and 300ml of milk. These are all standard fridge/store cupboard essentials, so I wasn't that bothered about them adding to the cost too much.
The actual muffin mix is pale yellow, dry and powdery; once you've added these extras, you have to stir the whole thing, carefully and not too hard - the packet warns you, in terrifying capital letters, NOT TO BEAT THE MIXTURE! I wondered about this, but a quick Googling reveals that apparently muffins are better when they're not properly mixed, as they're lumpier and doughier if they've been left unbeaten. So now I know.
Anyway, then you add the blueberries - they're in syrup so make sure you drain them properly to stop the mixture becoming too runny and stained blue throughout. Again, the packet warns you to take care doing this and not to break up all the lumps! I just stirred them in gently and tried not to break the berries up either, as I like the yummy squish when you bite into a whole blueberry.
When everything's mixed together, you'll need to put the muffin cases in one of those cake baking trays with all the holes in it (I used one and they turned out really well). However, if you haven't got one, the packet says that it won't hurt them too much if you just put them on a flat baking tray.
They cook really fast - the packet instructions say to give them 20-24 minutes, but they were starting to look golden and yummy after about 15 minutes so I took them out.
~~APPEARANCE AND TASTE~~
You know what? They actually did look like the impressively professional muffins on the front of the box - really fat and fluffy-looking, with that distinctive large-topped muffin shape. The blueberries were distributed nice and evenly throughout, giving substantial smudges of blue in the golden brown. The kitchen smelt amazing (yes, I did get some comments about my mad baking skills!) and they tasted every bit as good as they looked, really dense yet fluffy and nicely sugary.
They're mainly wheat flour and sugar, with an impressive 13% real blueberries; they also contain dextrose, raising agents, modified corn starch, salt, corn starch, stabilisers and flavourings. Real honest home baking this is not, but bear in mind that it's a packet product and you'd find all of these less than wholesome added extras in any supermarket ready-made cake. If you're allergic to eggs, milk or gluten, steer clear.
~~PRICE AND AVAILABILITY~~
A 375g packet, containing everything you need except an egg, some oil and some milk costs £1.98 in Sainsburys. With the addition of the extras you're still only looking at a little over £2 for 6 huge, delicious muffins; it's not that cheap but in terms of convenience and fun it beats getting everything together yourself!
If you like baking but are a bit averse to organisation, these are perfect! If you've got allergies to milk, eggs or gluten, they're not for you, but for a fun treat that's easy for anyone to rustle up (including children) they're hard to beat. I also like the fact that they have real blueberries included, as the finished product is just that little bit more luxurious.
Downsides? The lack of calorie information is really annoying, plus they'd work out a bit too pricey for me to keep buying and making. But then, I'd work out a bit too lardy if I constantly ate them...so maybe it's a good thing!