by Jillian Cristofalo
Nothing beats a freshly baked muffin. Crumbly but not dry, tender but not falling apart--they're perfect for breakfast, brunch, or snack time. Check out these tips for baking the best muffins, and then try them out with some of our great muffin recipes.
1) Most muffin recipes use the standard muffin method: mix your dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately, then combine them. It's really important not to overmix the batter when you combine the wet and dry ingredients—mix only until just combined and all the flour just becomes moistened. The batter should remain lumpy! If you mix until the batter becomes smooth, your muffins will turn out tough. About twelve strokes with your mixing spoon should be sufficient.
2) Be creative in your mix-ins! If you have a favorite blueberry muffin recipe, you can try adding blackberries, dried cranberries, or chopped apples in place of the usual blueberries. Experiment with adding different citrus zests or flavored extracts to muffin batter, or add chopped pecans, macadamia nuts, or sunflower seeds. There are endless possibilities! When you add mix-ins, toss them with a little bit of flour before quickly mixing them into the batter at the end (remember, not too many strokes when you do add them!). Tossing them with flour prevents everything from settling to the bottom of your muffins while they're baking, so your ingredients will remain evenly distributed throughout the batter.
3) You can use any size of muffin pan with any muffin recipe. If you want to end up with mini or jumbo muffins instead of standard size muffins, note that mini muffin pans hold about 2 tablespoons of batter per cup, while jumbo muffin tins can hold up to one cup of batter. Remember to adjust baking time accordingly—the smaller the muffin, the faster it bakes. Expect to bake mini muffins for about 5-8 minutes less than regular muffins, or add 8-13 minutes to the standard muffin baking time when baking jumbo muffins.
4) Don't fill the cups in your muffin tin more than 3/4 full of batter, or you'll end up with very flat muffin tops. To get nice domed tops, fill them about 2/3 full. If you don't have enough batter to fill up every muffin cup in your tin, put 2 to 3 tablespoons of water in the empty muffin cups to prevent the pan from warping.
5) To make cleanup a breeze, grease your muffin pan very well, and don't forget to grease the top of your muffin tin, too—if any batter drips there or the baking muffins expand over the cups onto the top of the pan, it will make removing the muffins and cleaning the pan easier. Using paper muffin cups makes removing the muffins from the pan easy, and helps keep them fresh longer, too.
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