So I’ve been working hard in the test kitchen formulating the perfect basic muffin recipe. Having a recipe like this is important–muffins are a quintessential quickbread, and almost all quickbread recipes originate from the most basic mixing instructions, known as the “muffin method“. When I think of quickbread, I think of banana, zucchini and pumpkin breads, but technically, a quickbread is any non-yeast bread. It can be cooked as soon as the batter or dough has been made; there’s no need to wait for the dough to rise as you must with yeast breads. Pancakes, crepes, popovers, cornbread, muffins, cream puff shells, and biscuits are other examples of quickbreads. A good muffin is tall, light, and moist, with a cracked top and a fine crumb.
When making quickbreads, minimizing gluten formation is key in getting that perfect texture and crumb. That’s why you’ll see “do not overmix” on most muffin recipes. Gluten is a fascinating natural protein group, and understanding how it works can make or break a recipe! (Check out “Understanding Gluten“–my post about what it is and how it works!)
This is a recipe for basic muffins–these could easily be made into any other type of muffin with a few simple tweaks. Whether you want blueberry, banana, oatmeal, or heck, even ham and cheese muffins, this is the place to start! In fact, the simple addition of a cup of blueberries would really knock these tasty muffins out of the park (blueberry muffins are my favorite)!
2 cups AP flour
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
1 egg, beaten
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease the bottoms of a 12-cup muffin tin or line with cupcake liners. (Do not grease the sides of the muffin cups, as a little traction there will help the muffins rise up so you get a nice muffin top!)
2. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
3. Add the milk, oil, and beaten egg to the dry ingredients and stir just until everything is moistened*. The batter should be lumpy! Do not overmix!
4. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Cool on wire rack and enjoy.
Makes 12 muffins.
*If you are adding nuts, berries, chocolate chips or other inclusions to this muffin, gently fold them into the batter at Step 3, a few strokes before the batter is fully mixed.
-Roll any berries, nuts, raisins, or other inclusions in a little bit of flour before folding them into the batter. This helps the batter cling to the inclusion and helps prevent them from settling to the bottom.
-If you are going to attempt to make a savory muffin, such as a ham and cheese, first reduce your sugar to 1/4 cup. A little sugar helps keep the bread moist, but the less you use, the more a muffin begins to taste like a biscuit, which is typically a good thing if you’re going for savory! If you want to take the sugar down even more, you may have to increase the fat to keep the muffin moist. Or technically speaking, if you remove the sugar and egg and increase the fat, you’re well on your way to a bona-fide biscuit recipe anyway! Happy experimenting!