"Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection: Muffins"

Pros: Some good muffins
Cons: Self-rising flour; recipes that aren’t quite right; not a terribly good selection
Rating: 2 out of 5

First posted 8/24/2000

Normally, my fiancee and I love the Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection cookbooks. Most of them are absolutely outstanding, particularly in comparison to other cookbooks. Not so with the Muffins cookbook, unfortunately.

Oh, it’s okay. There are a couple of good recipes in it, although we have yet to find any truly outstanding ones. But it has its problems, and too many of the recipes need tweaking for my taste. This can be okay in a larger cookbook with new and interesting recipes, but the reason the Cordon Blue Home Collection style of giving us few and common recipes always worked is that the recipes were so outstanding that we didn’t care.

Self-Rising Flour

I can’t make claims for other areas of the US, or for other countries. But here in the northeastern US, I’ve never actually seen “self-rising flour.” Yet it’s called for in almost all of the recipes here. In fact, all but two. Why? Why not just call for regular flour and baking powder? (For those of you who want this cookbook anyway and need to know, self-rising flour can be substituted for by adding 1/4 teaspoon baking powder to each 1 cup of all-purpose flour.) Surely regular flour is more common than self-rising almost everywhere, if not everywhere. What’s the point in calling for self-rising when it doesn’t particularly save on effort?

The Recipes

We’re always on the lookout for new muffin recipes. Muffins freeze and re-toast well (and frankly, we think they taste better still frozen in the middle so we never re-toast them all the way through), so it’s easy to make them last through a week of breakfasts. We haven’t found much here to satisfy our need for breakfast muffins.

There are still a few we haven’t tried yet that look as though they might be good. The Apple Muffins, for instance; Pear and Pecan Muffins, Date and Walnut Muffins, and Raspberry Streusel Muffins. There are also a few savory muffins that might work out: Corn Muffins, Seeded Cheese Muffins, Cheese and Herb Muffins, Olive, Rosemary, and Parmesan Muffins.

Too many of the muffins are designed for desserts for our taste, as when dessert rolls around we usually have other things we’d rather make. And not all of the muffins are entirely good.

Let’s talk about the White Chocolate Muffins. Sounds fantastic, huh? Instead they’re overly buttery and not sweet enough. I don’t know if that’s a matter of not enough sugar and too much butter, or if when it says “chopped white chocolate” it really means “finely chopped white chocolate” so that it’ll be distributed better. I suspect a combination of the two is at work here. Either way, you might want to eat these half-frozen, which takes care of some of the buttery taste and makes them a little sweeter.

The Orange and Poppy Seed Muffins are good, but again, not sweet enough. Don’t get me wrong; I like food that isn’t incredibly sugary. But there are certain tastes that my taste buds associate with sweetness, and to have some of that sweetness tempting me without the rest to deliver is just frustrating.

Maybe you’ll find more of value in this cookbook than we have. Maybe you’ll appreciate the dessert muffins more than we do. But unfortunately, the flavors I’ve tasted here haven’t impressed me nearly as much as those in other cookbooks.

Posted in Cooking, Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , ,
One comment on “"Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection: Muffins"
  1. Isabel says:

    Hi Heather,
    this particular cookbook is one of my all-time favourites. I bought it in Germany many years ago, translated into German. The translation is not particularly good, obviously it has been translated by someone who does not do a lot of baking.
    As you cannot buy self-raising flour in Germany, either, the recipes have been changed to state how much flour and how much baking powder you need.
    I think the reason the English version uses self-raising flour is that the copyright for this particular book lies in Australia, and here (I live in Western Australia now), you can buy self-raising flour everywhere, even wholemeal self-raising flour.
    I love most of the recipes and find they work really well. The white chocolate muffins are my absolute favourites. I was just going to send this recipe to a friend and was looking for the English version of the recipe to copy and paste, that’s how I came across your comments. I don’t find them very buttery and I don’t chop the chocolate into very small bits and to me, they are quite sweet. I have tried all the sweet muffins and I really liked nearly all of them. But then I would never eat muffins for breakfast or dessert. Being German, I love them for afternoon tea and they do work really well there. I agree with you that for breakfast or dessert, they would not be that nice, too much like little cakes in texture, I guess. Anyway, I enjoyed reading your detailed comment and obviously, tastes differ 🙂
    Kind regards, Isabel

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