Some of my relatives made a cookbook some years ago. It has some tasty recipes, but many recipes are simply a list of ingredients, followed by, “Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.” When I first started using the cookbook, I found this undesirable. Now, I often ignore the directions in recipes not written this way. Here’s how I make muffins.
The Muffin Method
- Put the dry ingredients in a large bowl and the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl. I usually use my liquid measuring cup for the wet ingredients, adding any eggs or vanilla last (I can add fractions, so this is easy).
- Whisk the dry ingredients, then the wet ingredients.
- Dump the wet ingredients on the dry, fold with a spatula until just combined.
- Scoop into muffin tins, bake as directed. If there are no baking directions, try 350°F for 20 minutes.
What’s with the strange details? I make a lot of muffins, and I have found this process uses the least utensils while making the best muffins. The two worst things in a muffin are (1) biting into a chunk of unmixed baking powder and (2) having a nasty texture. This method eliminates both those issues.
By whisking the dry ingredients, the baking powder (or soda) and salt get well combined. Whisking the wet ingredients beats the egg a little bit. If you’re not sure whether an unusual ingredient (e.g. raisins) is considered wet or dry, dump it in the wet container.
The key to a good texture is not stirring wet flour. Stirring wet flour creates gluten, which is generally good in yeast breads and bad in quick breads. I have found that if I don’t beat the egg a bit before adding it to the dry ingredients, it can be pretty tough to get the egg mixed in without over-mixing the batter. Once I decided just to leave the egg a bit lumpy. Bad idea. It resulted in a little chunk of cooked egg in the middle of a muffin.
This method could generally be used for other quick breads, such as banana bread. Actually, that reminds me it’s almost zucchini season, and I’ve never made zucchini bread…