If you love to bake, you may have heard of The Muffin Method. The muffin method is a simple technique where dry ingredients are mixed in one bowl, wet ingredients are mixed in another bowl, they are gently combined, and then baked. Sounds simple enough, but if not done correctly, the results may disappoint.
There seems to be a misconception when it comes to making muffins. When baking them, you would think the muffin technique is the only method used. If you see a recipe that requires a mixer, you are probably using the creaming method, which results in a finer texture resembling more of a cupcake. It’s just not a muffin. It’s a cupcake.
What equipment do you need to use the muffin method? A bowl(s), a whisk, a spatula and/or fork, measuring cup(s), measuring spoons, and your muffin pan. It's not even an arm workout to mix the ingredients because you need to gently mix, rather fold, the ingredients. You don't want to over mix or make muffins when you're angry and need to release some tension. You need a gentle hand when using the muffin method. Save the rough stuff for making bread.
What happens if you overmix? Well, you end up with a tough muffin filled with holes as if a mole just tunneled through it. That is easily avoided if you follow these steps:
Have your pan greased and ready to go. Use liners for your muffin tin which ensures an easier release. I'm torn with using paper liners versus greasing the pan. If you grease the muffin pan with a little oil or baking spray, the bottom of the muffins will turn out golden brown and you won't remove a layer of the bottoms when a paper liner is peeled off. However, using liners and not worrying about the muffins sticking to the pan is convenient. Either way, you should grease the muffin tin. Using a baking spray is easy and lessens the chance of bad things happening.
Have your liquid ingredients at room temperature unless the recipe states differently. You want the eggs and the liquid of choice being oil, butter, sour cream, etc. at room temperature.
The dry ingredients need to be thoroughly combined before adding the wet ingredients. Combining the dry ingredients with a whisk evenly distributes the flour with the leavening(s), salt, sugar(s), and spices(s). Mixing them thoroughly before adding the wet prevents globs of each ingredient. You don't want to take a bite of a muffin and get a dry pocket of baking powder in your mouth, do you? It actually happened to me when eating a muffin from a fancy bakery. Maybe they should read this post.
Same rule goes for mixing your wet ingredients. Mix them before adding them to the dry. Break those yolks with a fork or whisk and combine them with the other liquids. This gives you a head start combining with the dry ingredients.
Combine the wet and dry. Self explanatory.
Use a spatula to mix or fold the wet and dry ingredients. You don't want to be mixing while listening to your favorite fast tempo dance song because you're apt to get carried away. Trust me, I know. You want to mix just until the flour is combined. It's okay if there are some flour streaks in the batter. It will work out. When mixing, move the spatula starting away from you scraping along the side and bottom in one fell swoop towards you. Then turn the spatula with your wrist going away from you. The mixture will fold into itself. It's a gentle but thorough mixing.
Filling the muffin tin to the top is key to getting a high domed muffin. If the batter is thick, you can feel at ease filling to the top, even slightly overfilling. The batter gets a head start on height. You can place the muffin tin on top of a baking sheet before placing in the oven just in case it overflows (which it won’t, or never has for me). It’s also easier to remove the baking sheet out of the oven instead of squishing a muffin with my potholder when grabbing the pan. No one likes their muffins squished.
Bake at a high temperature. Start your oven 25 to 50 degrees higher than the baking temperature. When placing the pan in the oven, lower the temperature to what the recipe states. The muffins will rise higher because the higher initial heat boosts up the leaveners in the batter. If using liners, the bottoms will be (should be) lightly golden. Otherwise, they'll be golden brown.
After baking, let the muffins cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and no more. If you leave them in the pan, they will end up soggy from the steam trapped in the pan. No one likes soggy bottoms. Some recipes may state to turn the muffins out immediately.
There you have it. The muffin method explained. Follow this method and people will say...
“Wow! Your muffins are so big and beautiful!” Why thank you. Thank you very much.
Be happy, eat well.
All the photos from this post are by Ryan Gregory.
The Muffin MethodPRINT PIN
- spatula and/or fork
- measuring cup(s)
- measuring spoons
- muffin pan
- Start the oven at a higher temperature then stated in recipe. Usually muffins are baked at 375 degrees, therefore, start your oven at 425 degrees.
- Have your pan greased and ready to go. You can either line or spray pan with baking spray.
- Have your liquid ingredients at room temperature unless the recipe states differently. This is true especially when using melted butter. If your other ingredients are cold, the butter will clump.
- The dry ingredients need to be thoroughly combined before adding the wet ingredients. Use a whisk or a fork to combine well.
- Mix together your wet ingredients. You can use a whisk or fork to combine well.
- Combine the wet and dry. Usually, you pour the wet onto the dry. Some recipes state to make a well in the center of the dry before pouring, but I've done it with a well and without without any difference.
- Use a spatula to mix or fold the wet and dry ingredients. Do not over mix your batter. Clumps may be present and that's okay.
- Filling the muffin tin to the top is key to getting a high domed muffin.
- After baking, let the muffins cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and no more. I usually go 5 to 10 minutes. Tilting the pan makes it easier to release muffins. If they are stuck, use a fork to nudge them out.
- Wait until the muffins are cooled a bit before eating them. This step is totally optional.