Muffins…sweet ones are great for breakfast or brunch, and savory ones are perfect partners with a salad, soup or stew . The muffins at the coffee shop look so good, but you can make a dozen at home for about the price of one in a coffee shop or bakery. And they’re so easy to prepare; the batter is a simple mixture of flour, a leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda, eggs, oil or melted butter and a liquid (such as milk).
While muffins are easy to make, here are a few things you should keep in mind. First of all, muffin pans vary in size.
- A standard muffin pan cup is about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, and holds from 1/4 to 1/3 cup of batter.
- Giant or “Texas-size” muffin cups - hold slightly more than a half cup of batter.
- The mini muffin pan cups range from 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, and hold 1 to 2 tablespoons of batter.
You might also notice a variation in pan sizes within each size category. For example, a standard muffin pan cup might be slightly bigger or smaller than 2 1/2 inches in diameter, holding slightly more or less batter than stated above. That means when you’re baking muffins at home, the baking times you see on a recipe may need to be adjusted (which is normally reflected in the recipe).
- Muffins can be baked in either greased muffin pan cups or muffin papers that can be placed into the muffin pan cups and the batter spooned inside. The muffin papers make cleanup really easy.
- If you aren’t using muffin papers, grease only the bottom and halfway up the sides of the muffin pan cup. This allows the batter to rise up the sides of the pan properly. Note the comparison between a muffin baked in in a paper baking cup versus the same muffin baked in a greased muffin cup. Using a greased pan will result in darker edges and a slightly shorter muffin.
- Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl; stir to combine. In another bowl, combine all the liquid ingredients such as eggs, oil or melted butter and milk; whisk together so eggs are well blended with the other ingredients.
- When combining dry ingredients with liquid ingredients, stir only until mixture is combined. The batter may still be lumpy.
- Overmixing will slow down the ability of the baking soda or baking powder to work. This will create tunnels or holes in the baked muffin, and it will make the tops peaked instead of rounded. Here is a photo of a muffin showing “tunnels” since it was overbeaten.
- Adding ingredients like dried fruits or nuts to a muffin recipe can be done without affecting how they bake. For a dozen muffins, add anywhere from 1/2 to 1 cup of dried fruits, nuts or baking chips.
- Spoon batter into the muffin pan cups immediately after stirring. The leavening will begin to work as soon as the batter is made and you want that action to take place in the oven.
- Sometimes you do not have enough batter to fill all the muffin pan cups in the pan. If that happens, just place 2 to 3 tablespoons of water in the empty cups to keep the pan from warping during baking.
- It’s also possible to overfill a muffin cup. Try to divide the batter evenly and not overfill or you will have muffins that spread and have flat tops.
- Start checking at the low end of the baking time range to see if your muffins are done. Insert a toothpick in the center; if it comes out clean, the muffin is done.
- If you have trouble removing muffins from the muffin pan cups, place the muffin pan on a wet towel for two to three minutes. This helps release the muffins from the pan.
Want a change of pace for breakfast, or something to go along with a salad for lunch or dinner? Bake up a batch of muffins for the family. Here are some great recipes to get you started:
Blackberry Orange Ricotta Muffins
Almond Peach Yogurt Muffins
Bacon, Apple & Cheese Muffins
Chile Cheese Sweet Corn Muffins
Honey Carrot Muffins