Saturday, March 26, 2011

Muffin Basics - Guest Post

Muffin Basics
by Jill Cooper

Muffins are very easy to make. Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and hand stir lightly. Usually, you only need to stir them about 12-15 times. The batter will be very lumpy but that is the way it should be. Muffins are one thing you don't want to over-mix. Pour them into greased muffin cups about 2/3 full. If you don't have enough batter to fill all of the cups in the pan, you can fill the empty ones with water if you like. I do this sometimes but not always.
  • If you are adding nuts or fruit, mix them in with the dry ingredients before you add the liquids. This prevents them from all falling to the bottom of the muffin.
  • Your muffins should come out with rounded tops and a light fluffy texture. If they don't, there could be a couple of things you are doing wrong:
    • Flat heavy muffins with tunnels may mean your oven temperature is too low.
    • If the muffin has a lopsided or misshapen peak, the oven temperature could be too high.
    • Knobs and peaks on top and long tunnels can also be caused by over-mixing.

Here is a basic muffin mix recipe from Dining on A Dime:
Basic Muffins
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
Mix ingredients together. Spoon into greased muffin cups, 2/3 full. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes. Makes about 12-15 muffins.

Add these ingredients to a basic muffin mix to liven up your muffins:
  • Bacon or Ham - Reduce sugar to 2 Tbsp. and add 1/2 cup chopped bacon or ham
  • Blueberries - 1 cup
  • Cherries or cranberries - 2/3 cup of cherries or cranberries, mixed with 2 Tbsp. of sugar first
  • Dried fruit - 1/2 cup apricots, currants, peaches, figs, prunes, raisins or dates
  • Nuts - 1/3 cup chopped
  • Cheese - 1/2 cup grated cheese and 1/8 tsp. paprika
  • Cornmeal - 1 cup cornmeal and 1 cup flour
  • Whole wheat - 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup flour. This is especially good with crumbled bacon.
    The sky is the limit with what you can add to a muffin if you only have a hand full of many different things. For example a little leftover corn would be good in a cornmeal muffin, a few chocolate chips would spruce up lots of different muffins, etc.

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt, by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit

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