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by: Max M Rasmussen
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Muffin base recipe and "The Muffin Method"

A simple plain basic muffin - made with the base recipe. - Max M Rasmussen
Video Recipe - A Muffin is a delicious simple and flexible cake. If you know the "muffin method", and the simple basic recipe, you can easily create and mix up your own recipes. So here is a thorough explanation of how the muffin is "constructed", and why.

The basic recipe which I describe here, I rarely use as is. I put in a variety of fillings, which then is based on this basic recipe. However, you can easily use it as it is. It tastes great.

Ingredients - basic recipe 

Provides 12 pcs. (In my molds)

Dry

  • 5 dl flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)

Wet

  • 2 1/2 dl yogurt, A38, curdled or similar. 
  • 1 1/4 dl oil / melted butter
  • 2 1/2 dl sugar
  • 1 egg

Directions - "Muffin Method"

An example recipe.

The muffin method is very simple.

A muffin is made up of wet ingredients, dry ingredients and fillings.

Mix the dry ingredients together - Just use the most inexpensive flour you can buy. What you pay for in flour is that it is high in protein. Which is what makes it suitable for fermented bread. Bread that must "feel like" bread. Crusty, glutenous and airy. Which is precisely what makes it unsuitable for cakes, that should preferably be moist and soft, but wihtout air holes and gluten structure. So the lower the protein % your flour has, the better it is for cakes. But if you are only able to find high protein flour in your local store, don't worry. Your muffins are going to be just fine wither the "higher quality" flour.

Rise of the muffin - Actually baking powder is enough to make muffins raise. When baking powder gets wet and heated, there is a chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide gas. That is the same gas that yeast releases, so there is nothing poisonous or odd in that. But if there is too much acid in the dough, then it change the chemical reaction, and the baking powder becomes less effective. Therefore, you should add baking soda, which is alkaline and prevents the acid. Especially if you use more acidic fillings. For example, lemon or other juice. In that case you should also add a little more baking soda. I usually try with ½ teaspoon at first. If that does not make it raise enough, try using a little more. In the base recipe I use 1 teaspoon of baking soda. That is mainly because there is fermented milk products in it, and that is acidic.

Mix the wet ingredients together - When you are baking cakes sugar is normally considdered a wet ingredient. That's because it gets dissolved. Crunchy sugar is not a sign of quality in one's dough ;-)

Mix the dry and moist fillings in with the dry ingredients - This is particularly true for moist things like berries, fruit and marzipan. The layer of flour that sticks to it preents it from sinking and ending up at the bottom of your muffins. If you use juice or liquids as a filling it should naturally be mixed in with the rest of the wet ingredients.

Mix the dry and wet ingredients quickly and efficiently - You do not need a mixer, Just a whisk, a ladle or something like that. The dough must not be kneaded. When you knead ordinary leavened bread, you do it to physically force the gluten molecules out of the flour. Gluten is a kind of elastic adhesives, which makes airtight bubbles in the bread where air and gas can be kept inside. It the little "bubbles" we are accustomed to seeing in bread and buns. The more you knead, the more elastic the dough will become. We are not interested in that for muffins. A good muffin offers little resistance when you bite into it, and you can easily break small pieces of it and put into your mouth.

As soon as all of the flour is wet, it has been mixed well enough! It does not matter that the dough is coarse and lumpy. It'll recover during baking.

The ingredient other roles

The "acidified" milk is not only for a liquid but also acid. Cakes without acid to counteract the sugar can taste rather flat and bland.

The fat/oil encapsulates the flour particle, and keeps the dough soft and moist for a longer time. So that it can be enjoyed for up to 3 days after baking. You can also easily use butter instead of oil. Just melt it first.

Sugar is a sweetener and it makes the muffins more spongy. Also makes the surface more brown as sugar "caramelizes" quicker than flour.

Egg provides fat and proteins, which causes the muffins to keep their shape, and makes the surface brown faster as well.

Baking and cooling

Pour the batter into muffin molds that are large enough that there will be 12 pieces out of  this portion. They should be about twice the size of cupcakes.

Bake at 200°C (390°F) for approx. 20 minutes. The usual needle test applies here. If raw dough sticks to a knitting needle, small knife or meat pin, when you stick it into the center of the muffins they are not yet done.

Let it cool for approx. 20 minutes before removing from the mold. Let them then further cool upside down until they don't stick anymore.

Your own variation and recipes

Principle # 1:  When I try with new fillings, I always think about whether it contains liquid Is "liquid neutral".  If it does add liquid to the recipe, I add 1 dl (½ cup) flour per 1 dl (½ cup) liquid in the filling. This is clearly the most important rule to remember.

Principle # 2: 100 g - 150 g (3.5 oz - 5 oz) of "liquid neutral" filler is usually suitable for this recipe. This avoids too much or too little filling in each muffin.

Here are some variations I've tried and can recommend.

Lemon Muffins

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 dl (½ cup) extra flour  (if there is only 1/2 dl (1/4 cup) lemon juice in your lemon use only 1/2 dl (1/4 cup) flour)

White icing on top. Preferably with lemon juice in it instead of water.

Cranberry Muffins

100 g (3.5 oz) of dried cranberry, soften them up for a few hours in orange juice or water. Drain the liquid away. Chop the berries in half, and put them in the flour.

Blueberry muffins

150 (5 oz) g of frozen blueberries. Just put them directly into the flour while they are frozen.

Chocolate muffins

The juice and zest of 1 orange

1 dl cocoa powder