This Pantry Staple Is the Key to Next-Level Muffins
Let me be honest with you right off the bat: I’m not a baker by nature, and I prefer my comfort zone of savory, rustic recipes. So anytime I find something to increase my odds of baking success, you better believe I’m trying it out!
Recently while endlessly scrolling TikTok, I stumbled on Kale Junkie’s (aka Nicole Modic) video in which she sprinkles uncooked rice in the bottom of her muffin tin cups before adding cupcake liners and then the batter. Her claim is that the rice absorbs excess fat and moisture and creates fluffier, more evenly baked muffins. It’s also supposed to keep the bottom of your muffins from getting greasy. This intrigued me because my muffin game has seen better days, so I decided to brush off the cupcake pan languishing under my oven and try it out.
Testing the Muffin-Pan Rice Trick
For testing purposes I chose this classic lemon blueberry muffin recipe because of its simplicity and deliciousness.
I whipped up the muffin batter, then set up my rice hack station. It was as easy as adding 1 teaspoon of uncooked Jasmine rice (I just chose whatever I had the most of in my pantry) to the bottom of 6 of the 12 cups in the pan. Then to create a control, I left the other 6 empty, so a side-by-side comparison could be made, post-bake.
I lined the pan with standard paper muffin liners and dolloped 1/2 cup of batter into each indentation, per the recipe. The rice didn’t affect the bake time, as the muffins were fully cooked in the recommended bake time of 20 to 25 minutes. After cooling for 5 minutes, they were ready to remove from the pan.
When I flipped the muffins over, I instantly felt like Paul Hollywood, inspecting each Bake Off contestant’s confectionery, looking for any imperfections. I was surprised to see the muffins over rice had a more even bake, with lighter bottoms and sides.
There was also no excess grease or moisture on the bottom of the muffin, which I did see with the rice-less version.
After the baked goods cooled completely, I cut them down the center and saw no big differences inside. They both looked moist, fluffy, and gorgeous, but following a taste test, I had a clear winner in my mind. However, I felt like I needed a second opinion, so I enlisted the help of my partner, who has a deep appreciation for all baked goods.
I set up a blind taste test for him, and he immediately chose the muffin baked over top of the rice! We both commented on the softness of the muffin, how much more moist it was, and that it was generally lighter than the second muffin. My only explanation for this is the rice must conduct heat better, spreading it throughout and allowing the inside of the muffin to bake at the same rate as the outside.
So, is this hack worth it? My answer is if you’re someone who bakes often, is a muffin aficionado, and/or loves food science experiments, give this a try. If you want to take your baked goods to the next level, rice could be the answer.