Muffins are a mainstay around our house. They are as nourishing as they are good to eat. They are quicker and easier to make than cookies and usually contain much less fat and sugar. We usually eat them for breakfast but like them with any meal. (For Easter, we served cranberry nut muffins with a ham dinner.) They work well for snacks and desserts also. Extras can be frozen and heated in the microwave for hot muffins anytime.
Today we will make muffins using the”muffin method”. (Just as there are two major makeup methods for quick breads, there are two methods for muffins-the muffin method and the creaming process.) In the muffin method, the liquids and the dry ingredients are mixed separately and then stirred together until just combined. We will include tips and directions to make the perfect muffin and a few streusel and topping recipes to crown your creations with. Raccoon Poop
To make muffins using the muffin method, choose a favorite muffin recipe that doesn’t call for the creaming of sugar into the fat.
In preparation, grease the muffin tins. We enjoy the spray oils from an aerosol can to reach the corners of the tins. Be sure to cover the top edges where the cakes will flow when baking. (you may use paper liners but since the batter adheres slightly to the paper, you’ll have less volume to the muffins.)
Set the oven to preheat. Temperature is one of the secrets to those nicely domed muffins that you see in the better bake shops. Commercial ovens utilize precise heat settings and timers. In the kitchen, we could approximate these results by:
O making certain the oven is completely heated before baking. We like to allow the oven sit at full temperature for at least ten minutes before baking so that the heat is well-absorbed into the construction of the oven.
O Closing the door as soon as possible to keep the heat trapped.
O Setting the temperature at a higher initial setting and lowering the temperature later. The higher heat makes a burst of steam which lifts the batter.
O Putting the muffins in the top third of the oven in which it tends to be hotter and more constant.
Always measure flour precisely with a scale if you have one. Muffin recipes are sensitive to the proportion of flour to liquid. Too much flour and the muffin won’t rise properly and will be dry. Too little flour and the muffin will flow over the edges of the muffin cup as opposed to dome nicely. If you will need to fine tune your favourite recipe, alter the flour by a tablespoon or 2.
To create cake-like muffins, use a lower protein flour-cake or pastry flour. Higher protein all purpose or bread flours will make a muffin that is chewier and more bread-like.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl to be certain the baking powder and other ingredients are well blended. Set aside.
Add the additional fluids and whisk again. (Some recipes will instruct you to stir the salt and sugar to the fluids, rather than add them into the dry ingredients, to make sure they dissolve completely and are evenly dispersed. We like to do this with all muffin recipes which aren’t creamed.)
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Add the liquid all at the same time. Stir with a spatula until mixed well and moistened-some lumps will remain. Do not over stir-stirring too much will develop the gluten in the flour and the muffin won’t be tender and crumbly. To prevent over stirring, we favor a spatula to an electric mixer.
If you are using fruit in your biscuits, fold them gently at the end of your mixing using a minimal number of folds. Fruit crushes easily in the thick batter and the juice will stain the batter.
Fill the muffin tins with a large spoon or ice cream scoop. Make sure that the muffin tins are evenly filled so that they bake evenly. Most recipes direct that the muffin tins be filled 2/3’s full to allow room for expansion. If your batter reaches the right consistency, you can fill the tins for a wonderful dome on the muffins.
Bake the muffins until they’re a light golden brown. The muffin top should spring back when lightly pressed with the finger and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean. Over-baked muffins will be tough and dry. Under baked muffins could be heavy and moist.
It is easy to tear apart hot muffins trying to lift them from the tins. Instead, allow the muffins sit for a few minutes and you should be able to easily lift them out intact. Place them on wire racks to continue cooling.
Muffins are best served hot and don’t keep well beyond the first day.
Now for those streusel recipes that we promised:
Brown Sugar and Nut Streusel Topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Chop the walnuts into small pieces.
- Stir the walnuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon together.
- Cut in the cold butter with a pastry knife or two table knives.
- Spoon the streusel mixture over the muffin batter equally prior to baking.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon good quality cinnamon
6 tbsp butter, melted
Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a bowl. When you remove the muffins from the tins, dip the still hot muffins in the butter and then roll the tops in the cinnamon sugar mixture.