If you ever bake muffins from scratch, do the tops fall flat? Do the berries fall to the bottom? Do they burn, or does the paper liner stick to the bottom and sides? Do you find it to be a messy process just getting the batter into the muffin tins? If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, please read on.
Whether you’re baking them from a box mix, or from scratch, either way can result in less than desirable results. It doesn’t have to be this way. After all, you just want to pull some muffins out of the oven that halfway resemble the kind from the bakery, right? With a few simple tips and tricks that you might not know about, you’ll be on your way to muffin success in no time.
After years and years of trial and error, I can honestly say that it’s pretty difficult for me to turn out a bad muffin, unless I make some epic error like forgetting to add the baking powder. Without it, they simply won’t rise. More on that in a bit.
At some point in one’s life there seems to be a yearning to bake muffins at home. Sometimes it’s a way to say “I Love You” to the family, or maybe it’s an aspiration to be like Betty Crocker. Whatever the reason, usually the best way to start out is to buy the pre-packaged mix which takes alot of guesswork out. But even those can have their issues.
The first thing to think about is the type of pan you’re going to bake them in. The ones I have the most success with are made out of lightweight aluminum. Please avoid the dark non-stick ones at all costs (literally). Everything I’ve ever tried to bake in them have baked too fast and burned.
So now that we’re straight on the baking tin, let’s move along to the actual process of making great blueberry muffins. Once you know how to master the steps, you’ll be wanting to bake them all the time.
Always preheat your oven, so get it going because by the time you have your muffins mixed up and in the pan it will be ready for baking.
It’s always best to mix the dry ingredients in one large bowl, and the wet ingredients in a separate small one.
When adding the flour, sugars, salt, etc. into that large bowl, it’s important to give it all a good whisk to incorporate the ingredients thoroughly.
Once this is done, the wet ingredients can be whisked together. It’s important to put the eggs in first and whisk them well until adding the remaining liquid and oil.
Before adding the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, it’s best to add any fruit or nuts you are going to use to the flour mixture. By tossing or folding them in gently prevents them from sinking to the bottom during the baking process.
This is where frozen berries are the best, as they don’t break open and cause the batter to darken when you stir them in.
Now we’re ready to add the egg mixture in to the dry mix. Gently stir it in until everything is just moistened.
I’ve found the cleanest way to fill the muffin cups is by using an ice cream scooper. I was a sucker for years buying up any new and improved gizmo that was made to supposedly make my life easier. They’ve since been exiled to the thrift stores and yard sales. You might find something else that works better. Feel free to try what is best for you.
Most instructions tell us to fill the muffin cup only two-thirds of the way. As you can see mine are pretty full. Now, in most cases, if you were to slide this pan in to an oven where the recipe calls to be at 375 degrees, they would fall flat as a pancake on top. There would probably be a huge mess as well, not to mention the muffin tops would be sticking to the pan.
The key here is to start out the oven at 500 degrees. You probably think this is crazy. Once you pop them in and close the door, you will immediately reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. By doing it this way, you get a nice rise, or “crown” to your muffin top. The high temperature kickstarts the baking powder into fast action.
The result is a beautiful, nicely shaped muffin with a rounded top.
I love seeing bursts of blueberries. You can see that they were randomly disbursed throughout the batter by using the method I described above.
Now that the muffins are baked, out of the oven, and cooled down, there are a number of ways to give them a finishing touch. You can leave them plain, sprinkle some sugar on top, or lightly drizzle icing as I did.
Adding lemon extract to a mix of powdered sugar and milk made for the perfect pairing with the blueberries. The flavors go so well together.
You can always dress them up a bit more if you so desire by setting them into fresh paper liners. It makes them easier to handle and are less messy to deal with for the lucky ones that get to sink their teeth in.
Don’t forget to set one (or two) aside for yourself because they’ll go fast.
Tender, fruity, light and tasty muffins are a wonderful treat. They’re great to make on the weekend when you might have a little more time and can truly enjoy them. I love to have one with a fresh cup of coffee. Milk washes them down pretty darn good, too.
Here’s a recap of the critical tips I provided:
- Use a lightweight aluminum baking pan. Throw out any dark non-stick pans you have.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, wet ingredients in a small one.
- Coat the berries in the flour mixture before mixing in the liquids.
- Start baking with the oven preheated to 500 degrees, then immediately reducing it to 400 degrees.
- Let the muffins cool on a rack before adding icing.
Are you ready to bake up a batch of homemade blueberry muffins? Here’s the recipe I came up with, adapted from a base muffin recipe that can be found at King Arthur Flour.
- For the batter:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup frozen blueberries
- ½ cup chopped pecans, if desired
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon coarse sparkling sugar, optional
- For the icing:
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon milk
- ½ teaspoon lemon extract
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
- Line standard-size muffin tin(s), 12 liners total
- In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt.
- In small bowl, whisk the eggs. Then whisk in milk and oil.
- Gently fold in frozen berries and nuts to dry mixture until coated.
- Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients, gently stirring just until mixed and moistened.
- Using an ice cream scooper or large spoon, evenly distribute batter in muffin cups.
- Evenly sprinkle small amount of coarse sugar over top of batter in each cup.
- Place pan in oven, close door, and immediately reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.
- Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until just starting to turn golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove pan from oven. Allow to cool on wire rack for 5 minutes.
- Carefully remove muffins from pan and return to wire rack.
- While muffins are cooling, whisk together icing ingredients until completely smooth.
- Using a small spoon, lightly drizzle icing over cooled muffins.
- Place muffins inside paper liner.
Have you had success with baking muffins at home? Not so good? Please share your trials and successes, and what works best for you. We’d love to hear your stories.
Have a great weekend!