A Muffin Primer

Muffins
Muffins

A Muffin Primer

Who can say NO to muffins? Definitely NOT me. Everyone in the world adores muffins regardless of they may say. If you have never tried one before, you will become a believer once you take your first bite.  Muffin recipes come in many different flavors which make them more irresistible.

Muffins are small, sweet cup-shaped bread usually served in a paper baking cup or straight out of a muffin tin and are accompanied by jam, butter, Cheshire cream and much more.

Muffin quick breads are delicious and a perfect addition to your breakfast. They are very versatile. You can make savory like cheese and ham muffins or sweet like strawberry and banana chocolate chip muffins.  There is an array of muffin recipes out there today.

A Brief History of Muffins

Bakers started making muffins in the early 1700s They were little flat, quick bread or cake with little sugar and easy baking. The word was spelled “moofins,” and many language historians suggested that the word comes from either the French word “moufflet,” meaning “soft bread,” or from the German word “muffe,” which is often applied to a type of cake.  Regardless of where they got their names, muffins have become very popular.

These little round bread became much sweeter in the 19th century. Some bakers still used yeast while others relied heavily on baking soda but were still round and flat.  Many chefs used plain wheat or corn and baked them on a griddle instead of in the oven.

Modern muffins look like cupcakes, but the first sets were a lot like what we call English muffins. One big difference between the ancient and modern muffins is that the first muffin recipes had a limited number of flavors, while current ones come in almost every flavor one can imagine such as chocolate, strawberry, pineapple, pumpkin chips, banana, and et cetera.

Different Types of Muffins

There are two main types of muffins – the English muffins and the American muffins. Both vary in style, flavor, and history.

English style muffins have a dry texture. They are a flat yeast raised muffins with nooks and crannies that are cooked on a griddle rather than baked in an oven. This muffin recipe dates back to the 10th century in Wales. The muffins were then cooked in hoop-like muffin rings and on the bottom of a skillet or directly on a stove.

So what are American muffins? American style muffins differ from the English style muffins. They are quick bread made with flour in individual molds. This is because the mixture forms batter rather than dough.  American muffins are leavened with potash which produces carbon dioxide gas in the batter. These muffins can be further divided into two categories – cake-like and bread-like muffins.  Both categories have peculiar techniques of mixing the batter. The surface of American muffin quick bread is bumpy because the volume of the batter usually doubles during baking. They are traditionally served for breakfast.

In the United States, three states adopted an official muffin. Blueberry muffins are the official muffins in Minnesota. Massachusetts adopted the corn muffins in 1986 as its official state muffin and in 1987 New York adopted the apple muffins as its official state muffin.

The Different Approaches to Making Muffins

Breakfast

Breakfast muffins are normal muffins but with extra nuts, veggies, fruits, and whole grain flours. You can bake a batch of healthy morning muffins during the weekend and they will take you for the week or you can easily bake a fresh batch every morning.

Sweet vs. Savory

Sweet muffins don’t have to contain excess fat, sugar or calories. These muffins are soft and light with a delicious taste of different flavors and fresh ingredients.

Winter is coming! This means there will be lots of savory dishes like stews and soups and baked goods like muffins.  Savory muffins are perfect for the toppings to the batter, filled with Bacon, spring onions and other spicy ingredients. They are ideal as a soup side and are great for a lunchbox treat. Extra virgin oil makes it more virtuous.

Muffin Mixing Method

When making muffin quick bread, there is need to pay close attention to the order and manner in which you mix the ingredients in the recipe. If the ingredients are mixed in the appropriate way, it will produce perfect results. The dry and wet ingredients should be mixed in separate bowls. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and then pour in the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

Cooking Tip

  • To make muffins that are soft, light and fluffy, you must avoid over mixing the batter. The over-mixed batter will not give the desired outcome of a perfect muffin; it makes muffins too dense and ruins the airy texture.
  • Always remember to use a muffin liner or grease your muffin pan thoroughly before you scoop in the batter. If you skip this step, baked muffins will lose their shapes when you finally take them out
  • Preheat oven before baking time. This makes the muffin batter less dense and allows for easy baking and puff up.
  • Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients and then stir in the wet mixture until combined.
  • Don’t overfill muffin cups. Filling the cups to the brim will alter the beauty of the baked muffins. Aim to fill your muffin cups ¾ full.
  • After removing muffins from the oven, let them cool off in the muffin tin for 5-6 minutes, and then remove and transfer them to a cooling rack for further cooling before storing or serving.
  • Allow muffins to cool off completely before storing them. Put muffins in sealable plastic bag or airtight container. Use a paper towel to line the base of the container and cover the muffins with another paper towel. You can also put muffins in freezer bags or wrap in foil and store in the fridge.
  • Creativity is the spice of life. Be creative. Do not adhere strictly to the available Try something new by adding some form of creativity to the recipe. Be bold and let your imagination run wild.

Related References

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