All good things come in small packages.
No other adage could describe how I feel about muffins better than this one. Muffins are like little morsels of happiness, which melt in your mouth and burst with flavor when eaten. Whether they have a fine, spongy texture, or fruity and nutty one, you’re sure to relish every bite you take.
Aside from being delicious, muffins are also considered one of the easiest things to bake. Yes, they are easier and quicker to make compared to biscuits and cookies as the dough does not require kneading, rolling, and cutting. Simply scoop it into greased molds and they’re ready for the oven.
Typically, muffins are made sweet and served with tea or after meals as dessert. They can also be savory and can be eaten as breakfast, or can be considered an instant lunch/dinner option.
And what’s more? They can also be extremely nutritious. You can make them using whole-wheat flour, bran, wheat germ, fruits, nuts, and honey.
Here are a few tips on how you can always churn out the perfect muffins.
Use the Best Ingredients
For best results, try not to skimp on the ingredients you use. A muffin which doesn’t taste as good as it can, will leave you dissatisfied with the final product. Using high-quality ingredients will make a big difference to your muffins.
Whether it is the vanilla extract, the cocoa powder, buttermilk, or a flavoring that you’re using, ensure it is rich and pure in quality for muffins with mouthwatering taste and divine aroma. This aspect should be prioritized over others, if you’re running low on baking funds or supplies.
Use Ingredients at Room Temperature
Using cold ingredients when baking muffins is a big no-no as they do not combine well with other dry and room temperature ingredients. Mixing them will lead to the formation of a lumpy, sticky batter hampering the taste, quality and appearance of the muffin. It can also result in dense muffins, rather than light and fluffy ones.
Whether it is the eggs, milk or butter, bring them down to room temperature before using them, else they will take longer to break down and combine, increasing the risk of over-mixing the batter. And that can’t be good.
Mix Dry and Wet Ingredients Separately
For really great muffins, mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate mixing bowls and then combine them. Mix the dry materials like flour, fruits, nuts, by stirring them together and push this mixture towards the sides of the bowl to create a depression in between. Pour the (combined) liquid ingredients into the depression and then mix them together to form a smooth batter/dough.
As mentioned above, over-mixing your batter cannot be good. That’s because the more you mix it, the more glutinous it becomes, making the muffins dense with tighter grain. Over-mixing bursts the air bubbles in the batter leading to holes inside your muffins and even a cracked surface.
Under-mixing is bad too as it prevents the formation of enough gluten leading to collapsed muffins. For proper mixing, beat the batter until the ingredients have just about blended together.
Scoop It In
Pour the same amount of batter in each cupcake liner to ensure uniform baking. The best way to do so is to use a cookie scoop to fill them. Fill the liners about 3/4th of the way for best results.
Choose the Right Pan/Mold
Good quality muffin pans tend to be heavy and shiny. Pick the pans according to the size of the muffins you prefer. Large-sized pans will not work well for making small-sized cupcakes. Do keep at least 2 pans handy because that way you won’t have to wait for one pan to cool to scoop in the batter for the next batch.
To remove the baked muffins easily from the pan, use muffin liners or grease each mold/well.
Don’t Forget to Preheat the Oven and Bake at Proper Temperature
Preheating the oven has its own purpose i.e. to get the oven ready for baking. So do not underestimate or skip this step. Make sure your oven has reached the desired temperature before putting your muffin pan in.
If you do not trust your oven temperature, invest in a good oven thermometer to take the guesswork out of the baking process. This will also ensure that you always bake your muffins at the right temperature. If your oven cooks food faster at the rear end, rotate your pan halfway through the baking time.
Don’t Leave Them in their Pan
Once the baking time is up and you’ve removed the muffins from the oven, do not leave them in the pan for more than a few minutes. Move them to a cooling rack as the heat from the pan can cause them to overcook and dry out. Gently shake the muffins out of the pan, and place them on the rack to allow them to cool down completely.
Keep the Door Shut
While it is extremely tempting to take a peek at your muffins and absorb their fragrance, refrain from opening the oven door over and over. This causes the temperature inside the oven to change which is bound to affect the muffins and may leave them undercooked, dense and unstructured.
Eat Them Fresh
Ideally, baked items should be should be consumed within 48 hours of their preparation for getting the finest taste. So do make sure you do not bake too many of them and eat them fresh, although I’m sure finishing muffins can never be too much of a challenge.
Avoid refrigerating your muffins as the chill will dry them out and cause them to lose their texture. If you must store them, keep them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
If you’ve baked before, you would understand the importance of not only following a particular recipe to the tee, but also that technique is of grave importance to the success of the dish. This principle applies to baking muffins as well. Now that you’re aware of what goes into making the perfect muffins, don’t waste time. Go into your kitchen, whip some up, and enjoy the Heaven-sent drops of joy!