How To Make Muffins: The Simplest, Easiest Method

How To Make Muffins: The Simplest, Easiest Method

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Meghan Splawn
Oct 18, 2016
The basic muffin method. Learn this by heart.
(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

My high school required all students take a class called "Life Skills," which replaced Home Economics with lessons in checkbook-balancing, button hole-mending, and entry-level cooking.

Paramount to the life skills curriculum was a blueberry muffin recipe that we had to perform as part of the quarter final. Why? Muffin-making is an essential baking lesson. With a short ingredient list and only a few key steps, it's a simple recipe that works for a basic breakfast, a celebratory office treat, or even an improvised dinner roll. Here's the most basic muffin recipe — one to know by heart.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Master the Basic Muffin Method

The muffin method, also know as the muffin mixing method, refers to a standard procedure of mixing ingredients together in a specific order. (This is the basic method used in nearly all quick breads.) For muffins, the dry ingredients are whisked together in a large mixing bowl, while the wet ingredients are mixed together in another bowl or measuring cup before the two are added to each other.

The muffin method also requires that the wet ingredients be added to the dry ingredients, never the other way around, and mixed gingerly.

Once the wet mixture meets the dry mixture, work to quickly but efficiently combine the two, as not to develop too much gluten in the batter (too much gluten equals tough muffins). Some lumps are welcome, especially as fruit, nuts, cheese, or chocolate chips will be added to the batter after mixing.

Read more: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Muffins

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Add Mix-ins to Make Them Your Own

This simple muffin batter can hold from 1 to 1 1/2 cups of flavorful mix-ins. Blueberries or chocolate chips are gold standards, but any combination of fruit (fresh, dried, or frozen), nuts, or even cheese can be added to make a beyond-basic batch.

5 Favorite Muffin Mix-in Combos

  • Apple-Cheddar: Peel and dice 1 Granny Smith apple (about 1 cup) and add with 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese to the muffin batter.
  • Banana-Nut: Finely chop one ripe banana and 1/2 cup walnuts, add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to the dry mixture, and fold banana and nut into the finished batter.
  • Cherry-Chocolate: Soak 3/4 cup dried cherries in warm water, drain, and fold with 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips into the finished batter.
  • Coffee Cake Muffins: Add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg to the dry ingredients. Top the muffins with the below streusel topping before baking.
  • Funfetti Muffins: Add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract to the wet mixture. Fold in 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles into the batter.

How To Make Muffins: The Simplest, Easiest Method

Makes 12 muffins

What You Need

Ingredients
For the muffins:
Paper muffin liners or cooking spray
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 to 1 1/2 cups mix-ins, such as chocolate chips, blueberries, dried or chopped fresh fruit, or grated cheese

For the streusel topping: (optional)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon fine salt

Equipment
Measuring cups and spoons
Mixing bowls
Whisk
Rubber spatula or wooden spoon
Standard 12-well muffin pan

Instructions

  1. Prepare the pan and oven: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F. Line a standard 12-well muffin pan with papers liners or coat the wells with cooking spray.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients: Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl; set aside.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients: Whisk the milk, oil, egg, and vanilla if using together in a medium bowl until combined.
  4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Some lumps are fine.
  5. Fold in any mix-ins: If you're adding mix-ins to your muffins, fold in the fruit, chocolate chips, or nuts gently until distributed. Four or five folds is all it should take.
  6. Fill the pan and bake: Divide the batter amongst the prepared muffin wells, about 1/3 cup of batter per well. Bake until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: Muffins will keep at in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. They can also be frozen, then thawed at room temperature.
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