“ Brand: Weight Watchers / Type: Mix „
Last night I really fancied something sweet, but I've stopped keeping 'bad' things in the house so they only choice I had was to make up this mini muffin mix I had in the cupboard. I think I bought it from a supermarket but can't remember how much it was, sorry! Pretty inexpensive anyway...
The box has a lovely looking muffin drizzled with icing on the front, and inside you get a bag of cake mix, a packet of icing (both labelled because they look almost identical) and 12 mini muffin cases. Making up the mixture is very easy - just add 5 tablespoons of water and mix. You don't have to mix for very long to get it looking like proper cake mixture, but although I stirred vigorously for ages I couldn't get rid of the little lumps that formed.
I gave up, poured the mixture into the cakes and put the cakes in the middle of the oven for 12 minutes on gas mark 7, as the back of the pack states. 12 minutes later the cakes were a lovely golden brown colour, so I took them out and tried one. I then noticed that whilst the cakes were cooked on top, most of them were still uncooked round the sides and at the bottom, so I put them back in for another five minutes.
This time they were much, much darker on top than on the box (although they weren't burnt), and properly cooked, though I was disappointed that I had to cook them longer. I cook cakes and buns in my oven all the time, and 99% of the time from scratch, and I've never had the situation where they were cooked on top but not right through before, so it's not my oven. I think I would try putting them on a higher shelf next time.
The icing was easy to make up but only requires a teeny tiny drop of water! I put slightly too much in. Whilst it was in the process of setting I just had to try another cake. The lemon tasted highly artificial, the cake just tasted of powdery sweeteners, and the texture was good but that's about it. I'll eat them - after all they are cakes - but they taste like a 'diet product' and I find it difficult to believe that all the artificial ingredients are any better for you than traditional butter and sugar (or honey).
The cakes' staying power was very good, and they didn't sink at all. Although one case had a little too much mix, it held its shape well even over the top of the paper case and didn't 'explode'.
Each cake is half a Weight Watchers point, which means nothing to me, and each cake is probably just over half the size of a regular fairy cake - yes, they are VERY mini! I'd like to have seen ones double the size - they would still be mini muffins. Any guy I know could eat all 12 of these easily in one sitting, and even a dieter would probably want about 4 before feeling satisfied, so these won't go far.
Overall, these don't taste nice. Either buy one of the nice frozen Weight Watchers desserts if you're bothered about calories, or if you want lemon cake with no hassle, try Jayne Asher's Lemon Drizzle Cake mix, it's delicious.
I like to think of myself as quite a competent baker, but I am a perhaps less competent kitchen stocker. While I never run out of food (or chocolate...) I don't tend to keep things like eggs or fresh milk in the house. So, when I want to bake I either have to bake a whole lot to use up the cartons of both I have to buy in specially, or I have to find an alternative. This mix is one of those alternatives.
Weight Watchers home baking kits are fab because the only thing you have to add to them is water. I have tried the brownie one before and couldn't tell the difference between that and a regular, non-diet brownie mix, so was happy to give this Lemon Mini Muffin mix a try too when I spotted it cheap in Lidl (at £1.49 instead of the mainstream supermarket price of £1.99).
The box tells me it will make 12 mini muffins, with 5 minutes of preparation followed by 12 minutes of baking, and that the result will be suitable for vegetarians. It doesn't tell me on the front what I need to add in the way the Betty Crocker and Cadbury mixes, for example, scream out "Just add 1 egg and oil" or whatever, but the back of the box is clear with it's "You Will Need" section: water, baking tray, mixing bowl. Those, I think I can manage. I'll even throw in a spoon for good measure.
The mix has a good shelf life - mine would have lasted until September this year - and can be stored in a cupboard, but my box didn't make it off the work-surface as I kept it out knowing I would be baking it the next day in anticipation of a dinner party the day after that.
The instructions on the box are text rather than drawings (the latter used more when the product is being sold in an international market) but are clear and simple: you preheat the oven and while it's getting nice and warm you empty the lemon muffin mix into a bowl and stir in 75ml or 5 tablespoons of water. The only slightly off putting bit was that they guide you to aim for "a lumpy batter" and mine went smooth quite quickly. I decided that wasn't too big of a problem, and continued on with the next instruction, to share our the mixture evenly between the 12 muffin cases provided, and bung the whole lot in the oven for 10 - 12 minutes until well risen. It really is that simple - mix it up, then wait and watch - so quite appropriate for a Weight Watchers product.
Mine rose quickly and were looking tasty by the 5 minute mark, but I left them in to cook properly. However, I have an oven that tends to be a little on the hot side, so I whisked them out as soon as 10 minutes hit, and they were a soft golden colour and looked fluffy. By this point the kitchen truly smelt of baking, though the lemon scent was quite subtle.
You are told to leave the muffins to cool completely before adding the icing, also supplied. To mix this up you add water slowly to the powder until it forms a smooth, thick icing. No indication is given on how much water is needed and though I was trying to be careful, my icing went a bit watery so I sieved in some ordinary icing sugar to thicken it up again. The icing was very lemony, and doing this didn't detract from the taste in the slightest, but if you're a devout WW follower, this would upset the points count slightly.
Speaking of nutrition, the mini muffins have ½ point each, or 41 calories / 0.6g fat for those on other plans. I was pleasantly surprised by how much muffin you get for this amount - they are smallish, but not ridiculously tiny, and though I couldn't stop at just one, even having 2 or 3 together is still quite a low calorie snack.
I ate the muffins in three ways the first of which, I must confess, was in uncooked batter form - I even went so far as to bake just 11 muffins so I could leave the 12th in the bowl and lick it clean. It was yummy - not as sweet as some diet products can be, and not artificially tasting in the slightest. My next way was to eat one fresh from the oven - not even iced, but still piping hot to the extent that steam escaped when I broke off the top. It was delicious, light and fluffy, and very moist. My final way was the following day when I served up the now iced and cooled treats to my dinner guests. I didn't think the muffins were quite a light the following day but they were tasty and the lemon drizzle icing was a lovely addition. I suppose they tasted a little like day old muffins which they were - similar to the sort you can buy fresh from supermarket's bakeries. The box says you should consume within 24 hours of preparation which we did, but I agree with them you probably wouldn't want to mix them up much further in advance of when you need them.
I really liked the fact that these were lemon and yet light - in my local Tesco, all the lemon muffins are lemon curd monsters with over 400 calories in each. To me, lemon SHOULD be light and fluffy, and if you then add a spoonful of yogurt or cream, well then so be it. These were citrusy and tangy without being over the top.
There are two things about the product that let it down slightly, though on the whole I was impressed by these. The first was the way they really didn't match the picture on the box. Given the size of the muffins there was no way I was going to be able to drizzle the icing as elegantly as they had, in thin drips across the top, and mine pooled rather inelegantly in the rim at the sides where the paper cases met the muffin. This was also due to the fact that the muffins were much more peaked than those on the picture (above) which looked more like flatter cup cakes without the domed top. Mine were positively conical in comparison and if I'd baked them from scratch I would have worried I had gone overboard on the baking powder, but since I just used the mixture provided maybe it was the WW people who were a little generous with the stuff. At the same time, there was far less contrast between the colours of the muffins and the icing, so even if I had been more skilful, the full effect would not have been able to be appreciated in the same way as those shown on the box.
My other issue was that all of my muffins came out with slightly browned bottoms, not immediately visible when they were taken out of the oven. This meant the last few crumbs of each muffin tasted darker than the rest - not burnt, per se, but certainly a little thicker and tougher. I don't know how I could have avoided this as if I'd taken them out earlier I don't think they would have been cooked thoroughly throughout. I didn't pre-heat the tray because I was lining it with paper cases, and plopping mixture into these while the oven was warming up, so it couldn't have been due to that.
Despite these two minor criticisms, I was impressed with the mix for the following reasons:
- It was easy to make, but still let me feel like I was baking
- I didn't have to add in any ingredients, making it a good thing to keep in a store cupboard for sudden baking urges
- Using it made the house smell nice in the way shop bought goodies wouldn't have done
- The muffins rose properly and cooked in the time specified
- The texture was light and fluffy, and the icing added a nice zing
- They tasted lovely and not at all like a reduced fat product
- Being individual mini muffins, portion control is built in making them great for those on the WW plan - the brownie mix, for example, is harder to split evenly
- While it might have been cheaper to make my own from scratch, the price of the mix compared well to buying in a dozen already baked mini muffins