Friday, April 28, 2006

Baking Is Hazardous To Your Muffins

Last night, I made muffins for the first time in a very long time. I don't do much baking, really, but the other night I was flipping through one of my cookbooks featuring recipes for muffins, cakes, quickbreads, etc. and I found a recipe for Coffee Cake Muffins that looked pretty easy. Best of all, I already had most of the ingredients on hand. On the way home from work yesterday I picked up some milk (the only thing I was missing), and I was away to the races. Sort of.
The first batch I made did not exactly come out as planned. There are no pictures, as it was just too horrible. I put the muffin pan into the oven picturing fluffy, golden coffee cake, but what I got was cinnamon-flavoured charcoal. Harrumph.

So. I decided to modify my approach somewhat. The directions say to bake the muffins for between 20 and 25 minutes. Just a tip - 25 minutes is TOO LONG. For my oven, anyway. Plus, the batter seemed really gloopy and sticky. I had a hard time getting the stuff from the supposedly non-stick silicon spatula into the muffin cups. In addition to that, the directions say to 'lightly grease' the muffin pan. Well, OK, I admit it, I have a crappy muffin pan. But, I faithfully 'lightly' greased the cups, and then needed a cold chisel to get the little suckers out.

My second attempt was this morning. Armed with the knowledge gained from the miserable failure of the previous evening, I set out to make some edible muffin-like cakey things. Now, they weren't what I would call perfect, but as I generally prefer NON-crunchy coffee cake, I declared them a success.

First of all, I smeared those muffin cups with a generous amount of butter. Not an outlandish amount, but they knew they'd been smeared. Then, I decided to add a bit more milk than the recipe calls for in an effort to make the batter a little less gloopy and thus easier to work with. This did work, but the muffins didn't end up rising quite as much as the first batch. I'm still tinkering with the formula. This will require additional experimentation, but I'm sure my co-workers (on whom I've been recently foisting my baked goods) will not mind.

The additional lubrication on the muffin cups worked a charm. And, I suppose, only baking the muffins for exactly 20 minutes helped as well. They came out golden instead of black, and were easily extracted from the pan. Now I just have to get them to rise a bit more.

Oh yeah, you guys probably want to know the recipe, don't you? OK, OK, keep it down, here it is.

Coffee Cake Muffins
from Company's Coming - Muffins & More by Jean Paré
Makes 12 Muffins

Muffin Batter
1½ C All-purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Salt
¼ C Butter, softened
½ C Granulated Sugar
1 egg
¾ C Milk (2nd attempt I used 1 C milk)
½ tsp Vanilla

Preheat oven to 400ºF. (200ºC)

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Stir. Make a well in the center. In another bowl combine butter, sugar and egg. Beat well. Mix in milk and vanilla. Pour into the well in the flour mixture, and stir just to moisten. Spoon part of batter into lightly (heh) greased muffin cups 1/3 full. Sprinkle Spice Mix over top. Spoon rest of batter over top filling to 2/3 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Spice Mix
½ C Brown Sugar, packed
2 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Cinnamon

In small bowl combine all ingredients. Stir well. Sprinkle over batter as directed above.


evelyn said...

I add a little butter to the topping mixture for mine.

Coffee cake, apple crisp, peach crumb pie - they're all just crunchy cinnamon topping delivery systems, aren't they?

Anonymous said...

I have an outstanding muffin recipe that is simple and VERY adaptable to any fruit/filling, if you are interested. Muffin eaters rejoice!

Ian said...

Hi Evelyn,
Thanks for the tip. I'll try that on my next attempt. And yes, I looove that crunchy cinnamon topping!

I am ALWAYS on the lookout for new recipes. Especially for muffins. Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ian, sorry for the long delay but here's that recipe. Country Style Muffins: 2 Cups all-purpose flour (I sometimes use wholewheat instead and if you do, use only 2tsp baking powder and swap only 1 cup of all-purpose flour for the wholewheat flour) 1/3 cup sugar, 1 Tbs baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/3 cup softened butter, 1 egg, 1 cup milk. Preheat oven to 400°F (205C). Grease 12 med-sized muffin cups or line with paper liners. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add butter, egg and milk. Stir with fork just until ingredients are blended. Fill prepared cups two-thirds full. Bake 20-25 mins or til golden. Makes 12 muffins. Variations::Sourcream muffins: use only 2 tsp baking powder and add 1/2 tsp baking soda. Sub sour cream for milk. Blueberry muffins: Add additional 2 Tbs sugar. When all ingredients are blended, carefully fold in 1 cup fresh or partially thawed frozen blueberries. Honey-Orange Muffins: use 2 eggs. Place in bottom of each cup, 1tsp honey and 1 thin slice unpeeled orange cut into quarters. Spoon batter on top. Apple Muffins: Use 1/2 cup sugar. Add 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon to flower mixture. Add 2 cup shredded, raw, tart apple along with butter. Sprinkle top of batter in cups with a mixture of 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, 1/3 cup chopped walnuts and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon. Date & Nut Muffins: add 1 cup each finley chopped dates and finely chopped walnuts or pecans to flour mixture before adding liquid. Note: Often I use raspberries and marionberries that I pick locally and freeze. Just follow the Blueberry recipe for such substitutions.
Happy Muffin Making!!

Elizabeth said...

Hi Ian...

Just stumbled upon your blog today and am liking it...! Looking forward to reading some of the archives now.


Ian said...

Thanks, Elizabeth! Enjoy!