Muffins that can make your morning
By Katie Scarvey
Cupcakes are on a roll lately. They seem to be getting most of the love we allot to baked goods, and that means that the muffin has been edged out of the spotlight that it enjoyed for a time in the 1980s.
And that’s a shame, because even though it doesn’t have frosting, a good muffin can make your whole morning.
This is the time of year when I hear the oven calling my name, and I’ve always loved to make muffins. You can make them regular or bite-sized, and you can get a little fancy if you like with designer liners. I prefer to use foil liners. They’re a little pricier, but they seem to work better than paper. I’ve never tried the silicone muffin pans, but they seem practical since they don’t require greasing or liners.
One thing to remember when making muffins is to have a light hand with the batter. Gently combine the wet and dry ingredients. Never beat, which will produce a tough muffin. You also don’t want to overbake, because nobody likes a dry muffin.
Muffins are best eaten shortly after baking, so it’s a good idea to freeze what you don’t want to eat right away.
You can find a great blog with some very useful tips about muffins at simplebites.net, a site I will surely return to for other cooking ideas.
I learned from Aimee Wimbush-Bourque that ingredients should be at room temperature for best results. I’m not sure that I’ll always have the foresight to do this, but it’s good to know.
Aimee also advises greasing the entire muffin tin and not just the holes, and that’s so when the muffins expand over the sides you won’t have problems removing them. It makes sense.
Putting a baking sheet under your muffin tin can also help prevent the bottoms from getting too dark, Aimee says.
I picked three recipes to make, and each one was more than satisfactory.
I love oatmeal, and One-Bowl Oatmeal Muffins makes good use of the healthy whole grain.
The real beauty of this recipe is that it is a base — allowing the baker to put together his or own perfect combination.
These are some of the combinations that Aimee suggests:
• 1 C. raspberries, fresh or frozen, and 1/2 C. dark chocolate, chunked or chips
• 3/4 C. diced apple and 1/2 C. toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
• 3/4/ C. dried cranberries and 1/2 C. toasted pecans, roughly chopped
• 3/4 C. white chocolate, chopped or chips, and 1 C. blueberries, fresh or frozen
• 1/2 C. toasted unsweetened coconut and 3/4 C. peanut butter chips
• 3/4 C. dates, pitted and chopped and [0xbd] C. pistachios
• 3/4 C. golden raisins and 3/4 C. grated carrot
I ventured off the ranch and tried my own combination: tart dried cherries and dark chocolate. I loved the result, and I’m looking forward to trying some other combos.
One-Bowl Oatmeal Muffins
Makes 12 medium muffins
1 C. buttermillk (or 1 C. milk and 1 tsp. white vinegar)
1 C. rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 large egg, at room temperature 1/4 C. dark brown sugar 1/2 C. butter (1 stick), melted and cooled slightly
1 C. plus 2 Tbs. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp.baking soda
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, freshly ground
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, freshly ground
add-ins of your choosing (see above suggestions)
Combine buttermilk and oats in a large bowl and let stand one hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and line with cupcake papers. (I used foil cupcake liners but did not grease the tin.)
Crack the egg into the oat and milk mixture; add brown sugar and mix to combine. Stir in melted butter.
Sift remaining ingredients into the bowl: flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, & spices. Gently fold into batter, taking care not to over mix.
Sprinkle add-ins and flavorings of your choice and combine muffin batter gently.
Use a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop batter into muffin tins. Bake until light brown and tops spring back when gently touched, about 10-12 minutes. Note: Muffins will take slightly longer to bake if you are adding fresh fruit such as blueberries or rhubarb.
Remove from oven and cool in tins. To remove, run a sharp knife around the edges and pop muffins out. Enjoy!
• • •
Need muffins for a crowd? This fabulously easy recipe fits the bill. And if you don’t need to make 36 muffins all at once, the batter will keep in your refrigerator for several weeks.
I wouldn’t have thought of combining dried fruit and fresh fruit, but these are very tasty muffins — and a snap to make. This particular recipe won a prize at the Hopkins Raspberry Festival Bake-Off.
(I baked mine at 350 degrees instead of the 325 suggested, and my muffins came out fine.)
Raspberry Raisin Bran Muffins
Makes 36 muffins
1 16-ounce box raisin bran cereal
5 C. unbleached all-purpose flour
2 C. sugar
5 tsp. baking soda
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 C. vegetable oil
4 C. buttermilk
1 C. raspberries or more to taste
In a large bowl, combine cereal, flour, sugar and baking soda. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, oil and buttermilk; add to cereal mixture and stir just until combined. Cover and refrigerate batter for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325. Gently fold raspberries into batter. Pour batter into paper-lined or greased muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes.
Note: batter will keep covered and refrigerated for about two weeks. Just add raspberries before baking.
• • •
I began thinking about doing a muffin food page last week,and since then, I’ve made these muffins twice. That’s how much I like them.
It’s the intense lemon flavor that makes this muffin stand out. It’s not nearly as simple as some muffin recipes — you need to juice a lot of lemons, and zest a few as well, which is not a task I particularly enjoy, but the results are so worth it.
I was tempted to skip the glaze, but was glad I didn’t. It pushes these scrumptious muffins over the top.
Fresh Lemon Muffins
— From “The Bread Bible” by Beth Hensperger
Makes 8 muffins
1 1/4 C. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 C. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Grated zest of two lemons
8 Tbsp. (one stick) unsalted butter, melted
2/3 C. fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
1/4 C. sugar
1/4 C. fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease or line eight standard muffin cups. Fill the other four cups half full with water. In a large bowl, using a whisk, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and zest.
In a large bowl using a whisk, combine the butter, lemon juice and eggs. Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, mounding full.
Place the muffin tin on a rack in the center of the oven and bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges and springy to the touch.
To make the lemon glaze: Combine sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Heat to just dissolve sugar but do not boil.
Pierce the baked muffins in a few places. Pour the warm lemon glaze over the muffins.