The Simplest Muffin Recipe Ever

“One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.” ~ Oscar Wilde

 

blueberry muffins

blueberry muffins

I call most muffins in stores or bakeries cupcakes because they contain a lot of sugar and are the consistency of cake. Some sugar is necessary for browning and texture, and taste, of course. But after experimenting with different recipes over the years I’ve reduced the amount of sugar in muffins with no loss of taste. I get flavorful results that I feel good about eating first thing in the morning.

About

One-quarter cup of sugar (the amount in this recipe) contains about 56 grams. You will get 12 to 14 muffins from the following recipe. Each with about 4 grams of sugar depending on how many you make.

Muffins are quick breads, using baking powder instead of yeast to rise, and can be quickly assembled then baked while you do something else. I use 2 eggs instead of only 1, which is called for in most recipes, to increase the protein, the extra egg also changes the texture a bit.

Following is a basic recipe for muffins that takes about 20 minutes to bake. The recipe can be varied depending on what fruit, nuts, and spices you have on hand.

If you think about it the night before, mix up the muffins, cover the bowl, and let them sit overnight. This is a time-saver, you’ll only have to fill the muffins pans and bake in the morning. Plus, presoaking helps remove some of the phytates.

These muffins freeze well. Place in a container or freezer bag after they are completely cooled.

Tips

  • Have all ingredients out and at room temperature. Put them away once you’ve added them to your bowl, so you won’t forget anything.
  • Cut the butter into pieces and melt it in a microwave. Let the butter cool to room temperature.
  • Put the eggs in a bowl and whisk together, stir in the milk (or water if you are using powdered milk). Stir in the cooled melted butter. Everything will remain liquid if they are at the same temperature.
  • If you are using dried milk, add the milk powder with the dry ingredients, the water with the wet ingredients. The powdered milk you buy will have the powder to water ratio on the package. Mine is ¼ cup powder to 1 cup water.
  • If you mix your recipe the night before, your muffins will be lighter due to the double-action of modern baking powder—they will start their first rise, then finish rising in the heat of the oven. I usually mix the batter and let it sit at least an hour if I’ve not mixed it the night before.

About the milk

I usually buy a gallon of organic milk from pastured cows to make yogurt. I use about half a gallon for the yogurt and divide the rest into 1 ¼ cup portions that I put into glass recycled peanut butter jars and freeze. Just remember to take the milk from the freezer the day before you plan to use it.

Any kind of milk will work for this recipe: full-fat dairy, non-sweetened coconut, almond, or powdered milk.

muffin batter with measuring cup and spatula

muffin batter with measuring cup and spatula

Basic Muffin Recipe

Makes 12 to 14 muffins depending on the extras you add
Have your ingredients ready and at room temperature (see above tips)
Grease your muffins pans with butter (vegetable oil does not work here) or line them with paper liners
Preheat oven to 400°F
Prepare the fruit you are using (see below)
Chop the nuts if you are using them
Prep time: about 20 minutes
Baking time: 15 to 20 minutes
Servings: 12 to 14

muffins ready for the oven

muffins ready for the oven

Ingredients
2 cups white or regular whole wheat flour
¾ cup rolled oats
¼ cup dehydrated cane sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons ground flax seed (optional)
3 tablespoons melted butter (see above tips)
2 eggs from humanely raised chickens
1 ¼ cups milk: coconut, dairy, unsweetened nut, or powdered milk plus water

Directions

  1. Place in a bowl the flour, oats, sugar, salt, baking powder, flax seed, spices, nuts, and milk powder if using. Stir in the fruit and nuts you are using. Combine ingredients with a fork. Make a well in the center.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, melted butter, and milk (or water if using milk powder). Pour the wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients and fold in with a rubber spatula just enough to combine. Don’t over-stir as it can toughen the muffins by developing gluten.
  3. Drop ¼ cup of dough into the prepared muffin pans using a measuring cup and a rubber spatula.
  4. Place the pans in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, check for doneness by inserting a toothpick. The muffins will be a bit brown around the edges when they are done. Let them bake a few more minutes if not done to your liking.
  5. Remove from the oven and let them sit for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
  6. These muffins freeze well. Make sure they are completely cooled before putting them into a freezer bag or you will have frozen steam on the inside of the bag.

Variations

Use seasonal fresh fruit when you have it. Chop small, about the size of raisins.

Strawberries

Check over the berries when you get them home from the market for soft spots that will cause mold. Cut off soft spots

Rinse off only the berries you intend to use today. Cut the berries into small pieces and fold about 1 to 1 ½ cup into your batter. If you are using frozen berries, do not thaw.

Blueberries

Rinse the berries and let them dry. Fold about a cupful or more into your batter. To freeze blueberries use the same procedure as for strawberries. Do not thaw blueberries before adding them to the batter.

Apples

About one medium unpeeled apple is the right size for apple muffins. Cut them in small pieces, or grate them. I usually cut them because I like the small pieces and cutting is easier. If you are not knife friendly grating is best. Stir into the dry ingredients: 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon and 2 tablespoons ground ginger. The amount of spices is to your liking. Add ½ cup diced walnuts if you like.

Dried fruit

If it’s the dead of winter and you have no fresh or frozen fruit on hand, dried fruit is good. It’s best to soak dried fruit in hot water, or the milk you are using, to soften the fruit and prevent the dried fruit from sucking moisture from the batter. Put the fruit you are using in a bowl and cover with hot water or milk. You can use the soaking water or milk as part of the liquid called for in this recipe. Soak about 20 minutes. If you are using raisins or cranberries, leave them whole. If you are using apricots or other larger fruit, cut them into pieces, sprinkle the fruit with a little flour to prevent the pieces from sticking together, then soak them.

Spicy nut

Use any spices you like, 2 – 4 tablespoons ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and/or cloves. Add to the dry ingredients. Cut up nuts you like and have on hand: walnuts, almonds, pecans. Add to the dry ingredients. Freshly grated ginger and its juice is good with added candied ginger a real treat.

Coconut Orange

Add 3/4 cup of organic dried coconut shreds to the dry ingredients, 1 tablespoon of orange extract, add zest from an orange.

 

Notes

  • Use real butter.
  • Baked products get stale if kept in the refrigerator so all breads and muffins and the like should be stored in the freezer if they won’t be eaten within a few days.
  • You can use any fresh or dried fruit, just make sure they are cut small to bake properly and so they don’t break up the muffins.
  • If using frozen strawberries which will give off a lot of their moisture as they bake, use less milk.
  • For when I don’t have frozen milk I store milk powder in the freezer and add the powdered milk with the dry ingredients and put just the water that reconstitutes the milk in with the wet ingredients.
  • If you happen to have some leftover cream from another dish, use it to replace some or all of the milk.
  • I like to include coarsely chopped walnuts in muffins because I like the crunch and because it adds some important fatty acids and protein.
  • Play around with various spices and their amounts.
  • Some recipes recommend adding water to empty holes of muffin pans. A recent article in Cook’s Illustrated magazine explained that the folks at American’s Test Kitchen tried all variations on this theme only to learn that there is no difference in the quality of the muffins. So in the interest of safety, I no longer do that long-believed ritual.

This recipe is so simple that once you’ve made it a few times, you won’t need to read the recipe.

Cooking is supposed to be fun. Enjoy!

Author:Sharon Reese

Lacto-ovo vegetarian for over four decades.

Follow HeathfulCooking

I will be pleased to hear from you. I’ll try to answer questions you might have about cooking or nutrition.

2 Responses to “The Simplest Muffin Recipe Ever”

  1. November 21, 2014 at 4:20 am #

    Sharon,
    I loved your Basic Muffin Recipe. Came out better than I expected, and I’m sure I’ll make them even better the next time. Thanks.

    • Sharon
      November 22, 2014 at 8:38 am #

      Thank you for your kind words. The recipe is so simple. After making it a few times you won’t need to look at the recipe any more. Just remember to get out all your ingredients ahead of time and put them away as you use them so you don’t forget anything. These freeze well.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge