Muffins, along with scones, soda breads, pancakes and pikelets, are categorised as quick breads – designed to be made and eaten the same day.
The “quick” in this title comes from the fact that yeast isn’t used so there is no delay in making them. Baking soda or baking powder is the main raising agent instead.
Consequently, once the wet ingredients are added to the dry ingredients they need to be incorporated as quickly as possible. A large serving spoon or spatula are ideal for this job.
Set the oven to preheat as soon as you think about making a batch of muffins. In the time it takes to assemble the ingredients, make them and fill the tins the oven will be up to temperature.
To prevent muffins sticking remember to prepare the muffin tin by either buttering, marging or spraying it well with an oil spray. Alternatively the holes can be lined with a square of baking paper or bought muffin paper cups. There are also flexible silicon muffin bakeware on the market which you twist to remove the muffins.
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, add the extra dry ingredients as required in the recipe, then make a well in the centre (in which to pour the wet ingredients).
There are several ways to combine the wet ingredients. Namely, put them – in a bowl and beat them with a fork or whisk; in a plastic shaker large enough to hold the ingredients and shake vigorously; put them in a beaker or jug and stick blend them or whiz them in a processor.
Pour the wet ingredients into the well made in the dry ingredients and briefly stir them together with a spoon or spatula. Never use an electric beater or mixer.
The secret to successful muffins is to not over mix the batter, just incorporate it sufficiently to combine the ingredients. Don’t fret about a few lumps and dry patches. That’s normal.
Don’t be tempted to re-stir the mixture once it’s blended together. Depending on the recipe it may look a bit watery halfway though filling the tins (as though a good deal of the solids have gone into the first few holes) but just continue filling the holes.
Most muffin recipes make 12 standard muffins per batch. A standard muffin batter will make 24 mini muffins or 6 Mex Tex muffins.
3/4 fill the muffin holes. Any higher and the batter will spill over while cooking and the muffins come out looking like mushrooms.
Some people find an ice cream scoop is ideal for filling the muffin tins. My preferred method is to take a large serving spoonful of batter in my right hand, hold it over the muffin hole, then use my left forefinger to gently ease it into the hole.
Sprinkle over the topping of your choice or use the one I have suggested if wished.
Immediately put the muffin tin in the oven. The middle shelf is the best position a nicely browned muffins. I like to use the fan bake function in my ovens but that’s my personal preference.
Start checking the muffins after 15 minutes of cooking. Ovens vary markedly. Your’s may cook quickly, others more slowly. I mostly check with a touch of the finger tip but I’ve been cooking for many years. If in doubt use a toothpick or similar. I have Nell’s, my late mother-in-law, hat pin that she used for many, many years until it came into my possession.
Remove the muffins from the oven and stand on a wire rack for a few minutes before removing to cool on the rack. Don’t leave in the tin to sweat or they will become soggy.
If the muffins are to be topped with a drizzle do it immediately they come out of the oven. If they are to be iced or frosted wait until they’re cool before attempting to do so.
Muffins can be baked in a variety of different shaped tins – Mex Tex tins, mini muffin tins, mini loaf tins to name a few. The baking time will differ from those stated in this book. Muffins baked in the larger Mex Tex size tin will take longer cook while the much smaller mini ones will need a shorter cooking time. Mini loaf tins are great size for lunch muffins.
Don’t worry about cracks in the tops of the muffins it’s typical of a quick bread. Peaking and tunneling can occur if the batter is over stirred.
If they’re browning up too fast for comfort cover with a foil tent. Rotate the muffin tin if your oven doesn’t heat evenly and the muffins are browning on one side and not the other.
If the muffins haven’t had a topping added before cooking they can be flipped out onto a wire rack, then righted and left to cool. To remove topped muffins from the tins, lightly press down and give them a gentle twist. If they want to stick rest the tin on a damp cloth for a minute and try removing them again.
Muffins are nicest fresh from the oven. If you cannot consume them on the day they’re made then freeze them for later. They should keep for several months if well wrapped and sealed.
To Freeze Muffins:
Individually wrap in foil or cling wrap and place in a plastic bag. Freeze.
To Thaw Muffins: Microwave method
Remove foil or cling wrap and place on rack in oven. Microwave on Medium High in 40 second bursts per muffin or until heated through.
To Thaw Muffins: Oven method
Place foil wrapped muffins in 180°C oven for about 5 -10 minutes or until heated through. Use the fan option if available.
The alternative to making a full batch of muffins and freezing some is to halve the recipe and bake fresh ones more often. This is a good solution if you have a bench top (mini) oven, especially if it has a fan-forced function. There are 6 hole muffin tins on the market that fit them nicely.
The Recipe Resizing page has a chart on Doubling or Halving a recipe.
Click KITCHEN ALCHEMY to be taken to more tips on cooking.