In response to a tweet from Winnie requesting a good muffin recipe, I am posting the basic muffin recipe from my Baking and Pastry class (taught by Jeanne Krauss).
5 oz. (1 cup) pastry flour (or 4.5 oz., 1 cup, of all purpose flour)
2.5 oz. (1/3 cup) sugar
1/4 oz. (1/2 tsp.) baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1.5 oz. (1 large) egg, beaten
3.5 oz. whole milk
2 oz. (4 Tbsp.) butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Sift dry ingredients together.
Combine wet ingredients.
Mix wet ingredients into dry, mixing until just moistened. Remember, lumps are okay! Mix in your add-ins before all flour is incorporated (a gentle folding technique works well). Remember, DO NOT OVERMIX!
Spoon or scoop batter into paper-lined, greased or lightly-sprayed muffin tins to about 2/3 full. A #30 (2 Tbsp) ice cream scoop works well for this.
Bake at 375F, until done, approximately 20-30 minutes. Doneness is indicated by a golden brown color, muffins that feel set to a light touch, and a toothpick that when inserted, comes out clean.
You can put anything that you want into this recipe: fruit, nuts, chocolate, whatever. The important thing to know is that you should never overmix your muffins! You don't want the batter to be completely smooth, and lumps are OK! The more you mix flour, the more you develop the gluten. This is desirable for yeast breads because yeast produces gas slowly, and needs a very elastic environment to contain it. Weaker batters can't hold onto the gas bubbles for long, so they use chemical leavening (i.e. baking soda, baking powder), which creates gas quickly. A batter that is too elastic won't let the gas bubbles distribute evenly. Baking soda needs the recipe to contain an acid such as buttermilk, baking powder can be used on its own.
You can tell an overmixed muffin by the fact that it's tough instead of tender, and if you break it open, you will often see 'tunnels,' long trails in the muffin that develop from the leavening gas getting trapped. Muffins mixed correctly should be light in texture and have an even interior.
- Pastry flour makes for a more tender product because it contains less gluten. You can also mix 1 part cake flour to 2 parts all-purpose flour for an approximation (in this case 1/3 cup cake flour and 2/3 cup all-purpose). But most people are going to use all-purpose only and that's fine. If you're feeling fancy, though, my favorite source of specialty flours is King Arthur (also found at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and other upscale or specialty grocery stores).
- You can use up to a 1/2 cup of sugar in this recipe if you like a sweeter muffin (and depending on your add-ins), and keep in mind that sugar also acts as a tenderizer.
- Sour cream (2.75 oz or 1/3 cup) could be substituted for the milk. Also substitute a 1/2 tsp. of baking soda for the baking powder. This is a nice complement to blueberries.
- Buttermilk could also be used instead of milk. The amount would be the same, and you can use baking powder or baking soda as your leavener.
- You can put a little water into any empty muffin cups to dissipate heat and create moisture in the oven.
Other highly recommended resources used for this post:
- The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.
- On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee.