The Basics: Muffins
2 Muffin Recipes: Apple Carrot and Blueberry Muffins
Been to Starbucks or Panera Bread lately? Seen those giant muffins hanging out in the display case? Is it me or have all baked goods increased in size? Well, instead of purchasing the mass produced giant muffins, you can make them easily at home. You just need to know the basics of muffin baking which is rather easy.
So you are probably wondering, why does it matter muffins are made? As it turns out there is a science behind baking – cakes, pies, cookies, quick breads, and yeast breads. Muffins fall into the quick bread category. Quick breads are made with chemical leaveners like baking soda or baking powder for rising. Some even use steam and air (biscuits and popovers) to rise as well. The science of baking includes how the batter is mixed together, what chemical leaveners are used, and the baking method.
When it comes to muffins, there’s a method to the mixing of the batter. Why? Well, it prevents overmixing. Overmixing the batter leads to tunneling (holes/pockets in the muffin and pointed top) and overdeveloping the gluten where instead of a delicate crumb, you create a tough texture. You want a muffin with a nice domed top and delicate, moist texture.
Incidentally, the muffin method can be used for pancakes, too. In fact, this is the way you should be making pancakes if you want stacks of fluffy pancakes waiting to be drenched in maple syrup.
So, to get you excited about muffins, here are two of my favorite muffin recipes. I'll post more in the weeks to come.
Apple Carrot Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins
Topping or filling:
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line muffin tin with cupcake papers (or forego the cupcake papers and grease the pan well).
In a bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, Greek Yogurt, olive oil, butter milk, carrots, and apple. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Remember, the batter should contain some tiny lumps and it should not be smooth.
In a small bowl, mix together the butter, walnuts, and brown sugar.
Fill the muffin tins ¾ full with batter. Top each with the walnut mixture (you could add this mixture into the center of each muffin instead of on top). Bake for 20-25 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center – should come out clean when muffins are done.
Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.
Yield: about 18 muffins
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Grease 2 medium muffin tins (or you can make mini-muffins or extra-large muffins).
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, oil, and lemon zest. Pour milk mixture in the flour mixture and mix until just combined (leaving small lumps in the batter is ok -- do not overmix). Carefully fold in the blueberries.
Spoon batter into muffin cups to 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes (mini-muffins won't take as long and the extra-large muffins will take longer -- watch your oven) until lightly golden. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then remove and place on a rack. Leaving muffins in the tins will cause them to get soggy.
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