Making muffins may be thought of as elementary, even old fashioned, but the muffin method of mixing is a technique we see often in baking. Muffins, nut loaf bread, and pancakes depend on good execution of this method. It is an American recipe that symbolizes hospitality; some states have even declared a “state muffin” flavor!
We start with blueberry muffins, because if asked to name a type of muffin, people say blueberry 90% of the time! But there are many variations and more that are yet to be made up. See chef notes below for creating variations using this basic recipe.
1 cup blueberries, fresh, or from last season, frozen
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon orange or lemon zest, optional
- 2 1/4 cup cake flour (11 ounces) or 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons double acting Baking Powder
- 1/2 cup sugar, (3 3/4 ounces)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup melted butter or oil (Canola or EVOO)
- 3/4 cup milk
Remove some flour and toss with zest and blueberries; set aside. Scale or measure dry ingredients. Blend flour, salt, baking powder together. In separate bowl, mix sugar, eggs, oil and milk. Add the wet to dry ingredients, mixing only until dry ingredients are wet. Batter should be a little lumpy. Fold in blueberries, zest and little flour. Note: the flour coating on the blueberries keeps them suspended throughout the batter during baking.
Fill prepared (greased and floured) muffin pans. Fill to top. Bake 375°F for 18-20 minutes (210°F interior). Remove pan from oven onto cooling rack. Cool slightly, then tilt muffins in pan so steam escapes, preventing soggy bottoms.
Serve warm. Muffins get their name from “little Muffs” or hand warmers. Muffins are best eaten same day. If you have leftover, store in air tight container. Next day cut in half and warm in a toaster oven with a little butter.
Before baking, sprinkle tops with sugar; sprinkle with sugar and mace (from M.Stewart); or put on a crumble topping like you might use for coffee cake.
After baking, while muffins are still warm, dip into melted butter and then into cinnamon and sugar. Mini muffins are dipped all over in butter then put into bag of cinnamon sugar and shake. They resemble donuts.
For savory muffns, dip into melted butter followed by dry aged parmesan cheese.
VARIATIONS USING THIS RECIEPE:
Change the fruit: strawberries, craisins, raisins, fresh cranberries. You may even mash a little banana and add to the wet ingredients.
Change the type of flour: you may use half whole wheat pastry flour and half all purpose. Or sub half fine cornmeal flour for half all purpose and cut the sugar a by half. You may add some bran to the recipe for some of the flour.
Change the type of fat. Melted butter exchanged with vegetable oil is an equal exchanged. If using a room temperature butter, it is usually beaten with the sugar and eggs before adding and the dry ingredients and milk (or other liquid) are alternately added to the butter-sugar-egg mixture until just incorporated–not beaten.
Add seasoning for savory seasonings such as cayenne pepper in corn meal muffins and fold in chopped jalapeno peppers and a little white sharp grated cheddar cheese. Again drop the sugar in half. You can add spice to the batter by adding gound spice to the flour and dry ingredients.
When substituting buttermilk or yogurt for some of the milk, be sure to add a 1/2 teaspoon baking soda as part of the baking powder listed here. In addition add small amount of baking soda if adding chocolate chips.
Changing from sweet to savory can be done by cutting the sugar and adding the savory ingredients, but if you forget, a little cheese in a sweet fruit muffin is very nice too.
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE MUFFIN METHOD OF MIXING? It is mixing the wet and dry ingredients separately first, then when blending, blend only to moisten the dry with the wet; DO NOT OVER MIX! This will develop gluten in the flour and change the muffin from a coarse crumb with light texture to a compact dense even tough texture with tunnels. When making pancakes and waffles, a lumpy batter is exactly what you want!