Muffins

Copyright © 2000 Sarah Phillips Sarah Phillips, Inc. All rights reserved.
Blueberry Streusel Topped Muffins RecipeMuffins are smaller versions of quick-breads and are often the moister, richer and sweeter cousins of scones or biscuits. Muffins are so easy to make, that if you are a beginner, after cookies, they should be the next baked good to make.

Muffins come in many varieities and are traditionally baked in muffin tins from a drop batter made from a mixture typically containing all-purpose flour, sugar, a leavening agent (baking powder/soda), eggs, fat, liquid (milk, buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream), and salt. The general ratio of flour to liquid is generally 2:1. Dried or fresh fruit, nuts, chocolate, extracts, herbs and spices, cornmeal, bran, oats are some of the flavorings that can be added to a basic batter. A streusel topping, a sprinkle of coarse sugar or a drizzle of a glaze can be added for additional flavor and texture. All muffins are good served warm, cooled or reheated. They tend to be good keepers and should not be refrigerated, unless they contain perishable items. They can be frozen, and keep for a month or more.

MUFFIN TYPES AND MIXING METHODS
There are two types of muffins: Standard (bread-like) or cake-like, each mixed using a different method and containing different proportions of fat and sugar to flour. The optimum proportion of ingredients, mixing, and baking results in a the ideal muffin which has a good volume, a slightly rounded, golden brown and pebbly top mixed with the Muffin Mix Method or a smooth top when mixed with the Creaming Method.

Healthy Oven Buttermilk Bran Muffins Recipe TutorialStandard Muffins: Contain less sugar and fat with a coarser interior crumb than a cake-like muffin. The fat used is usually in liquid form, either an oil or melted butter. Mixing is done by the Muffin Method and stirring must be kept to a minimum so the gluten is not overdeveloped. The interior crumb has small, and more irregular air holes.

The Muffin Method is used to mix most Standard muffin batters. Only two bowls are needed to make the batter. One bowl is used to mix all the dry ingredients together.  The second bowl contains all the wet ingredients. 
SARAH SAYS: I include the sugar ingredients with the liquid ones for better aeration.

For best results, the wet ingredients are usually poured into the dry ones and mixed with a large spoon until just combined. It is done this way so the gluten protein in flour is not developed until the last minute when wheat flour and moisture are mixed, resulting in a tender and flavorful recipe. Liquid fat is less effective than solid fat from preventing gluten and this mixing method helps to prevent excess from forming. This is the opposite of yeast breads that require kneading to develop the gluten.  

  1. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl, mixing well. If you didn’t mix them before combining with the liquid ingredients, when baked, the muffins will likely get elongated holes (tunnels) inside;  
  2. Combine wet and sugar ingredients in another bowl, beating well until frothy and small bubbles appear.  
  3. Finally combine the dry and wet, by hand with a wooden spoon, just enough to blend - DO NOT OVERMIX. Only 10 to 15 strokes are needed to moisten the ingredients and the batter should be still lumpy - don't try and smooth it. The lumps will disappear when the batter bakes.  When lifted with a spoon, the batter should break and separate easily.  
  4. Form and bake immediately in a well-preheated oven. DO NOT OVERBAKE. 

Characteristics of Standard Muffins:
AppearanceRough, pebbled surface
Golden brown top crust
Even contour, slightly rounded
top — no peak
TextureFairly large gas holes uniformly
distributed
Free of long, slender tunnels
Medium thick cell wallss
TendernessLittle resistance when bitten and
chewed
FlavorBland or slightly sweet

Lemon Blueberry Cake Muffins Recipe Cake-like Muffins: A higher sugar and butter content. The mixing is done with the creaming method, or where butter and sugar are creamed together and need more stirring to develop the desired structure. The interior crumb should have smaller air holes and tender, more like a cake.

To Mix With the Creaming Method: is prepared using the same method as mixing a butter cake batter where the butter and sugar are creamed together. The higher sugar and fat content in this type of muffin act as tenderizers by minimizing gluten, thereby producing a richer cake-like muffin with a softer crumb. 

  1. The butter and sugar are creamed together 
  2. The eggs are mixed in;  
  3. The wet and dry ingredients are added alternately;   
  4. Batter will look smooth. DO NOT OVERMIX;  
  5. Form and bake immediately in a well-preheated oven. DO NOT OVERBAKE. 

Chocolate Muffin Tops or Muffins RecipePROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS - DO NOT OVER- or UNDER-MIX AND/OR OVER BAKE MUFFINS AND OTHER QUICK BREAD RECIPES
Pale
Too little batter in muffin cup
Overmixed
Too cool an oven

Unevenly browned
Too hot an oven
Oven does not heat uniformly
Pans filled too full
Wrong proportion of ingredients, too much baking powder or sugar

Too brown
Incorrect time and temperature
Too much sugar

Peaks
Pans filled too full
Overmixed
Insufficient leavening
Batter too stiff
Oven temperature too high or uneven
Dropped from spoon held too high above the pan

Tough, elastic
Too much flour
Too little fat or sugar
Overmixed

Compact
Wrong time and temperature
Improperly mixed
Insufficient leavening
Too much flour or liquid
Irregular grain or tunnels
Overmixed
Too much liquid
Inaccurately measured
Too little fat or sugar

Smooth crust
Overmixed

Hard crust
Baked too long
Oven temperature too high
Too close to heating element in oven

Harsh, dry crumb
Batter too stiff
Too much flour
Overbaked -  to prevent, the muffin tin should come out of the oven just when the muffins have a tiny bit of baking to go!

Rough surface, sharp edges
Undermixed
Too much flour

Waxy, shiny
Egg and milk insufficiently mixed

Flat flavor
Too little salt
Over mixed the batter and/or over baked  

Gray interior
Too much leavening

Yellow spots
Ingredients insufficiently blended

Cracked
Wrong-sized pan
Too high an oven temperature

Sticky
High proportion of sugar or sweetener, oil in recipe 
 
Tunnels
Overmixing -  excess of air bubbles beaten into the batter, stretch the gluten while baking. To prevent, STOP mixing when you have generally just combined the dry and wet ingredients.