Making better muffins

Pictured above are Strawberry-Lemon Muffins, one of the sweet muffins featured below. 

Muffins are a quick bread that can be eaten for breakfast, as a snack, or with a meal. For evenly baked muffins that will release easily, use aluminized steel pans that feature ceramic or silicone nonstick coatings. When preparing the batter, mix wet and dry ingredients separately. Always mix the wet ingredients first and then add the dry ingredients to it. To avoid tough muffins, it is important to not overmix the ingredients; only 10-13 strokes with a large spoon is sufficient. Muffin batter is thicker, maybe slightly lumpy, but not runny. Adding buttermilk or plain yogurt will help with the muffins’ texture. How much should you fill each muffin cup with batter? If the recipe you are using does not indicate how much to fill each cup, it is recommended to only fill each cup in the muffin tin to about ¾ full. What should I do with the empty cups in the tin? Don’t worry about them. There is no need to fill the empty ones with water as this won’t affect the outcome of the muffins. To check the doneness of muffins, use a toothpick inserted into the center until it comes out clean. When done, cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 3- 5 minutes. The perfect muffin top is domed in the middle, a bit browned around the edges, and slightly crusty on top. Sweet muffins are featured below.

Strawberry-Lemon Muffins

• 3/4 cup melted butter

• 2 eggs

• ¼ cup vegetable oil

• ½ cup water

• ¾ cup sugar plus ½ TBSP.

• 1 lemon

• 1 ¾ cups flour

• 2 tsp. baking powder

• ½ tsp. salt

• 1 cup strawberries, diced

• Powdered sugar

In a large bowl, stir together the butter, eggs, oil, water, ¾ cup sugar, and 1 tsp. of lemon zest. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until incorporated. Gently fold in the strawberries. Scoop batter into well-greased muffin tins and sprinkle ½ TBSP. sugar on the tops. Bake at 425 degrees for 17-19 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for about 5-10 minutes. Combine 1 ½-2 ½ TBSP. powdered sugar with 1 tsp. lemon juice to drizzle on the muffins. Makes 1 dozen.

Banana Streusel

Muffins

• 1 ½ cups flour

• 1 tsp. baking powder

• ¼ tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. baking soda

• ½ tsp. cinnamon

• 3 large bananas

• 2/3 cup sugar

• ½ cup butter, melted

• 1 egg

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Topping:

• 2 TBSP. flour

• 2 TBSP. butter

• 1/3 cup packed brown sugar

• 1/3 cup pecans, chopped

• 2 TBSP. oats

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon; set aside. Mash the ripe bananas in a large bowl. Stir together the mashed bananas, sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla extract. Add in the flour mixture and stir just until combined; do not overmix. Spoon into greased muffin cups. In a small bowl, combine the flour, butter, and brown sugar until mixed together; stir in the pecans and oats. Divide the topping evenly over the muffins. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Makes 1 dozen.

Mini Cinnamon Muffins

• 1 ½ cups flour

• ½ cup sugar

• 1 TBSP. brown sugar

• 1 tsp. cinnamon

• 1 ½ tsp. baking powder

• ½ tsp. salt

• Pinch of nutmeg

• 1 egg

• 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

• ¾ cup milk

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Topping:

• ½ cup butter

• ½ tsp. cinnamon

• ½ cup sugar

In a bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, butter, milk, and vanilla extract. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until combined. Grease a mini muffin pan; divide the batter evenly between the 24 cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Remove from pan and then dip and roll the muffins in the melted butter to coat them, then roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Makes 2 dozen.

— Amy Fischer lives in Fort Payne, Alabama, and is a Southern food enthusiast who loves to spend time in the kitchen creating tasty recipes. You can contact her at facebook.com/MySouthernTable.

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