The Muffin Method

Now, that's a muffin!

Now, that's a muffin!

Pastry Chef Online Welcome

Here's another one of those basic mixing methods that can really mess us up.  Sure, it sounds like a day at the beach:  Dry in one bowl.  Wet in another.  Wet on dry.  Stir, stir, stir.  Bake and hope for the best.  

You've got two basic options when it comes to making muffins:  you can use The Creaming Method, or you can use The Muffin Method.  As far as I'm concerned, the creaming method is for cakes.  What you end up with when you use the creaming method to make a muffin is a cupcake.  Tasty and all, but just not the same thing.  So, let's forget the creaming method for muffins and focus on the eponymous Muffin Method.

How to Do The Muffin Method

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  1. says

    Yes, bakers need not fear hot temps! Muffins need it for that poof.
    No mixers for tender muffin batter – and this also helps when you make blueberry muffins so you don’t end up with purple batter instead of muffin batter with blueberries in it!
    What’s your take on fresh vs. frozen blueberries for muffins and tossing blueberries in flour before adding (to prevent bleeding)?

  2. says

    I’m wondering now have I ever really tried to make muffins or have they all really been cupcakes (or what I would call buns). For the first time I think I have a clear picture of what the differences are and why (that’s what this blog is all about, ain’t it 🙂 ). Also interested in the response to the blueberry question above…

  3. says

    John B–Read your recipe for cranberry-lime muffins over at your place. They sound really good!

    Daily Spud–Hooray! If you understand the differences between muffins and cupcakes, and why they are different, I am doing my job! Yay–I’m giving myself a 100% raise immediately:D

    Gastroanthropologist–I say either frozen-not-thawed or fresh-not-mushy blueberries. Never frozen-then-thawed. I always just barely fold them in right before the muffins are “completely” mixed–when there are still large pockets of flour in. A couple of folds, and I’m done. I’ve never floured them, as I just don’t see that it makes a huge difference. I do take a few and press them into the top of the muffin batter (so their little tops are still showing) for added insurance there will be Even Berry Distribution.

  4. says

    Goodness, what a wealth of incredibly useful information. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Are you sure we shouldn’t be paying you for baking lessons?

    Now I’ll never have to eat all those failed, lumpy muffins by myself ever again…

  5. says

    I had to make blueberry muffins (we called them breakfast cakes for our guests to enjoy the following morning after their dinner) by the mountains! I had to use frozen – the little IQF wild ones from Maine. I kept them in the freezer till the very last second…they thaw so quickly and I agree, you don’t want that. Yes – I always sprinkled more berries on top and a little crumble topping. If you make enough of them you know exactly how much batter to put in the ice cream scoop for the perfect sized muffins.
    I’m a blueberry muffin over a cupcake (with frosting) person any day!
    oh, the flour thing…agree, its unnecessary.

  6. Tara says

    Hi Jenni-

    I had been searching for the reason why my muffins were flat and not domed. I also wanted to have a recipe that would give me the really tall dome like you get in bakeries. I just made your recipe and everyone should know that these were absolutely terrific and everything that you said they would be… tender and moist inside with a slightly crunchy top.

    My only question is how do you get a higher dome? I had little domes on my muffins with filling the muffin pan 3/4 full. Can I fill it higher to get more of a dome, or can the muffin pan have something to do with it? I used a calphalon muffin pan. The only slightly different thing I did is used all purpose flour, maybe that’s it as I know you discussed the flour in your directions. Just curious on your thoughts to getting closer to that “bakery muffin” result. Thanks so much for this website, it’s absolutely terrific!!!!

    • says

      Hi, Tara! Glad the muffins turned out so well for you! You can try filling the cups almost all the way to the top, especially if your batter is nice and thick. You can also add a judicious amount of extra baking powder. We don’t want any muffin lava flowing all over your oven, so I’d try maybe just an extra 1/4 teaspoon.

      I can’t imagine that the pan was the issue. If your pan is that dark Calphalon color, it would have helped to set the sides more quickly, which is really what you’re going for if you want a nice peak.

      Thanks for reading; it makes me happy to know that there are folks learning from and enjoying my mad ramblings 🙂

  7. Tara says

    Thanks for responding Jenni! So I take it the all purpose flour was in fact okay to use? I also live at around 5000ft. elevation, so should I change anything else with high altitude?

    I really appreciate what you do because it allows us “at home wanna be professional chefs, but can’t be” learn and have success in our own kitchens.

  8. says

    I’m glad you told me you live at a higher elevation. Scratch the add-more-baking-powder idea and just fill the cups a bit higher. And, yes, your AP flour is just fine to use:)

    I always say that we’re all home cooks when we’re cooking at home! We should all help each other be better bakers; I learn something new every day.

  9. says

    Thanks for stopping by at my website, it’s been an honour ^^, yes your post made me don’t shy away from muffin anymore. I always Overmix it, thinking still not undermix ^^, now I know the reason. Thanks to you

  10. xiangling says

    helo! boy, i LOVE this website! I have always been a why this, why that person … and I wanted insights on reasons to why we had to do the steps in muffin making! and of course, proper techniques. most people will juz giv u the recipe and expect u to magical conjure up good muffins … poooooh. So, my highest compliments to the creator of this! thank u very much! 🙂
    oh, my question is regarding the nuts and fruits that i would like to use, when shud I add it? with the wet ingredients? add lastly after he wet-dry mixing? and could I have the formula for a basic muffin please?

    again, my highest compliments to u, who has the good heart of sharing ur knowlegde to other bakers! Cheers! 🙂

  11. says

    Thank you thank you thank you for this educational post. I never knew there was a “muffin method” and what a differance it made in my muffins! Did I say Thank you yet?

  12. says

    Hi Jenni!

    I second all the responses — what a great and informative article. I have a question about muffin crispiness — I seem to be able to get a pretty good texture and shape to my muffins, but what main factors affect the “crisp” on the outside of a muffin. I love love muffin tops that are a little crunchy to contrast with a soft inside. It seems like higher temperatures help, but when I cook at 425, sometimes the insides don’t get cooked.

    Are there any particular ingredients to use/stay away from in my quest for crunchy muffins (dairy, certain oils?), or is temperature the main thing?

    Thanks in advance!

    • says

      Hi, Jess–glad you stopped by; I hope you found some answers to your questions. 🙂

      Rather than messing around w/baking temperatures–which, as you’ve noted, have a way of leaving you with less than perfect results, I would apply a crunchy coating to the outside of top of the muffins before baking. A healthy sprinkle of Sugar in the Raw or even white sugar will caramelize in the oven and lend a lovely crunch. For even more of a crunch, pile on the streusel before baking. An easy one is more-or-less equal parts of butter, sugar and flour with a pinch of salt. You can also substitute some oats for part of the flour, add chopped toasted nuts and/or any spices/zest that will complement your muffin batter.

      As far as ingredients to stay away from, I’d not use honey in a muffin, especially if you’re looking for a crisp top–honey is very hygroscopic. As such, it’s good for keeping muffins moist, not maintaining a crisp topping.

      Best of luck with your muffins, Jess!

  13. says

    Thanks so much for the great advice. Moist batter = moist muffins makes sense. I will try peaking the whites and maybe adding a little sugar to the tops for crunch!

    Yum. I can’t wait to try some of your recipes.

  14. says

    Hey that sounds like great advice ! I am going to try and apply that right now 🙂
    Thanks for using my picture as an example heheheheh I feel very flattered. I got my recipe from the BBC cooking site and they did say you’re supposed to only stir for a short time but I hadn’t understood why, so thanks for the explanations !

  15. Chein says

    I have a muffin problem…..Whenever I bake muffins, then store them in a container after they are completely cool the next day the tops are always wet! I’ve even left them for hours before storing them, and still wet tops!

    Any suggestions?!

    • says

      Muffins are one of those types of baked goods that don’t really keep very well. I find they tend to go stale very quickly. For storage, what I normally do is cool them to room temperature and then bag and freeze them. When I want one (or three), I just take out what I need and warm it/them up in the toaster oven.

      If you prefer to keep them at room temp, don’t wrap them airtight. If your muffins are especially sweet, or you put a sweet topping–or just some sugar on top–they will draw moisture. Try storing them in a paper bag so they can breathe some. If you go this route, I wouldn’t keep them longer than a day or two. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to make a new batch. 🙂

      Good luck with them!

  16. Raffaella says

    Well. I just baked oatmeal muffins (recipe from magnolia book) following all the suggestions I read. After many past attempts, the muffins came with a nice dome. FINALLY! I will try try to elevate the temperature to 425 instead of 400 and also add 1/4 tsp of more BP. I will post the results.


  17. Raffaella says

    Hello Jenny,

    Hope you can answer my questions.

    – if I find a recipe that needs both baking powder and baking soda what should I do with the batter. Should I bake it immmediately or wait the 15-20 minutes. Or can I “convert” the baking soda into baking powder.

    -When I mix the wet into the dry ingredients should I use a wooden spoon or a metal one. Why some recipes do specify what to use?

    -Since I live in Cyprus there is no such thing like half and half. Can I make my own with cream (the one that can be whipped) and milk? If not what can I substitue it with?

    Thank you very much in advance.

    PS: ALL of my muffins look great!!! THANK YOU for sharing your knowledge.

  18. says

    My muffins turned out the best! Thank you so much for sharing! I make muffins for the kids every single week, and they have never turned out this great.

    I have been searching your site for something regarding cookies. Do you have a direct link to share? TIA!

  19. ling says

    Hi!I’m a beginner in baking muffins.
    This website really helps me alot!
    But I have some questions here,hope that you can answer it for me.

    (1) I was baking apple raisin muffins yesterday but it turns out wet and not fluffy at all inside. Can you please help me t solve this problem?

    (2) Is it possible to keep the muffins for 4 days in an airtight container under room temperature without freezing it?

    Thanks in advance!^^

    • says

      Hi! I’m glad you’re finding my site useful:)

      I’d love to answer your first question, but I really can’t w/o seeing your ingredient list and understanding your procedure. Just off the top of my head, I’d guess that 1) the oven was too cool and/or 2) you left out your leavener by mistake. As to keeping muffins, the short answer is “no.” Homebaked goods don’t contain preservatives and will stale very quickly if not treated right. Freezing will not hurt the texture of your muffins at all–just bake, cool completely and then freeze immediately. Take out what you need about half an hour before you need it, then heat them up in the toaster oven. They’ll taste just-baked fresh.

      If you can’t do that, you can store them as you describe, but then I’d suggest sprinkling them w/a little water or apple juice or something, wrapping them up in foil and reheating them in the oven. No promises, but I think it might work.

      Good luck, and feel free to email me your ingredients and procedure for your muffins.

      • ling says

        Hi, thanks a lot for your explainations!!I am going to try and apply that right now.haha!!These are the ingredients & methods that i got from other website^^

        o 1 apple, coarsely chopped
        o 3½ tbsp lemon juice
        o 150g castor sugar
        o 150g butter
        o 2 large eggs
        o 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
        o 100ml apple juice
        o 225g self-raising flour
        o 1/2 tsp baking powder
        o 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
        o 75g raisins

        Place chopped apple, raisins, lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat. Allow to simmer, stirring for 5-6 minutes or until the sugar dissolves and the apple has softened. Set aside to cool.

        Line patty tins with paper cupcake cases and preheat oven to 190°C.

        Sift self-raising flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda onto a piece of greaseproof paper. Set aside.

        Beat butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time and add the vanilla essence. (Should the mixture curdle, add a handful of sifted flour to mix.)

        Fold in the apple mixture and lastly add in the flour. Stir in apple juice to mix.

        Fill the paper cups with the muffin mixture and bake for 25- 30 minutes or until muffins spring back when lightly touched.

        (2) I’m using small, pensonic oven to bake my muffins. But i’m thinking wanna get a new one. What kind of oven or which brand do you think would be suitable for baking muffins?

        Thank you!^^

      • ling says


        thanks a lot for your explanations!!I’m going to try it right now!^^
        These are the ingredients & methods for my muffins:

        o 60g butter, melted
        o 2 eggs, lightly beaten
        o 250ml UHT milk
        o 1 tsp vanilla essence
        o 250g self-raising flour
        o 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
        o 125g chopped walnuts
        o 55g castor sugar
        o 2 large ripe bananas, mashed

        o 250g cream cheese, at room temperature
        o 1 tbsp icing sugar
        o 2 tbsp plain yoghurt

        Preheat oven to 210 ºC. Lightly grease a muffin pan.
        Combine melted butter, milk, eggs and essence in a mixing bowl. Gradually sift in flour and bicarbonate of soda and add in chopped nuts and sugar. Mix evenly. Stir in mashed bananas and mix. (do not overdo the mixing.)
        Spoon mixture into muffin pan to three-quarters full and bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
        Remove and leave in wire racks to cool. Spread with cream cheese topping, if desired.
        To make the topping: beat cream cheese with a handheld electric mixer until softened. Add icing sugar and yoghurt and continue to beat until smooth and well combined.

        (2) Recently I’m thinking of want to get a new big oven (produce 12 cups in one time). Can you please give me some suggestions on which brand or what kind of oven should i buy?^^
        p/s:The Pensonic oven that i’m using now can only fit in 6 cups in one time.

        Thank you!!=)

  20. jt says

    Lovely! Thank you for the article.
    To get the “higher” looking middle, I always fill the cups 2/3 then go back and add a tablespoon of batter to each MIddle of the cups. The dense middle makes a bigger peak for me!
    Thanks for the why behind the how 🙂

  21. Yvonne Dighton says

    Have a friend who wants to know why her muffins come out with a “lean” to the right or left and not a peaked in the middle top. I don’t seem to have this problem so hope you can provide the answer

    • says

      It could be that her oven bakes unevenly so she might have to turn the pans after the first few minutes or so. She can check this by taking the temperature in different parts of her oven. Short of seeing her recipe and hearing about her whole technique in detail, this is the most likely culprit. Also, she might not be baking at a high enough temperature. Hope that helps.

  22. Jane says

    Hi! Wow, these are really interesting points! I’m wondering how i can get a softer outside to the muffins, they’re coming out a wee bit firm/crunchy on the sides. Thanks:)

  23. Kymmie73 says

    I want to make blueberry muffins, and the only blueberries I have access to are frozen. Will adding the frozen ones alter or change anything in the batter. What is best in this situation?? Please help.

    • says

      I often use frozen berries in my muffins.  Barely fold the still-frozen berries in at the very end of mixing, and you’ll be fine. Make sure they’re not starting to thaw, so they don’t bleed color. Enjoy your muffins!

  24. Jmboerner says

    why do my muffins always have a harder coating surrounding them and the harder outside seperates from the good moist inside?  Would like them the same cake like moist all around.

    • says

       Without knowing your recipe or exactly the way you mixed them, it’s hard for me to say for sure, but it sounds like you may have over-mixed and perhaps baked at too high a temperature and/or for too long a time.  Check your oven temp, and make sure that once you introduce the wet to the dry, you mix for a bare minimum of time. Hope that helps.

  25. Mikey says

    Hey, I have been making muffins for years for my family and I thought I had it down. Now, because of your writeup I let them sit for a few mins. The muffins come out great. Thanks.

  26. Ian says

    The grain in my muffins is gooey and waay too moist. What am I doing wrong? Too much liquid, or overmixing?

    • says

      From what info you’ve provided, it sounds like they’re underbaked. If you could give me a lot more specific information, maybe I can help you troubleshoot a little better. Thanks!

    • says

      Well, this post is really more about the technique than the recipe. But, if you want to play around with turning this into a chocolate muffin while keeping the mixing method the same, you can start by subbing in cocoa powder for a portion of the flour (equal substitution, by weight). Maybe start with 1.5 oz of cocoa powder and 6.5 oz of flour to start with. You could also consider subbing part buttermilk, part coffee for the milk called for in the recipe. The buttermilk will play well with the cocoa and the coffee will reinforce the chocolate flavor.

      If you do that, add in a teaspoon of baking soda along with the baking powder to balance the acidity in the coffee/buttermilk.

      You can also stir in some chocolate chips as well.

      Hope that is helpful.

  27. Chris says

    The recipe below produces what seems to me to be cupcakes – not muffins. The look of the crumb looks like cake, I swear. The cakes turn out very good. Still, there is no creaming method involved. Would you say the method in this recipe is the “muffin method” anyway?

    Vanilla Cupcakes:
    1 1/4 cups cake flour
    1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 eggs
    3/4 cup sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    1/2 cup oil (vegetable, canola or extra light olive oil)
    1/2 cup buttermilk

    * Preheat oven to 350*F.
    * In a medium bowl, add cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir together with whisk, and set aside.
    * In the bowl of an electric mixer, add eggs and beat 10-20 seconds. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed about 30 seconds. Add vanilla and oil, beat.
    * Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture. Add half of the milk, then the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk. Beat until just combined. Scrap down the side of the bowl.
    * The batter will be thin. Pour batter into a muffin pan prepared with paper liners. Fill liners about 2/3 full.
    * Bake cupcakes in pre-heated oven for 12-14 minutes.

  28. healthnut says

    Thanks so much for a delicious and perfect muffin recipe! As an avowed health nut (who, unfortunately still has a sweet tooth and a desire for that irresistible crunch of muffin tops) I switched out the flower for King Arthurs White Whole Wheat flour (it’s the best WWW out there!) and put in a quarter cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil as my fat, but it still was delicious!

    Brilliant tips, beautiful explanations and delicious muffins!! (how much better can you get?)

    • says

      Oh yay! I am so glad it worked out for you, and I’m really happy to know that my post was helpful to you. Thank you so much for stopping in and commenting, and enjoy the muffins! (and if you’re feeling very healthy, add some flaxmeal to some streusel topping)! =)

  29. Vanessa says

    Hi, I recently made pumpkin pie and had about 2.5 cups of leftover mix. The site suggested making pumpkin bread or muffins with the remaining mix but didn’t give instructions so I followed a suggestion in the comments and mixed together baking powder and flour. Then I added some oil to the liquid mix and mixed the dry in with the wet. The batter seemed a decent consistency but the muffins turned out very dense and undercooked even though I cooked th over 25 minutes. I did bake them at 325 because my pie was still cooking. Emma’s the oven way too low? Was there another issue? I’d appreciate any insights you might have!

    • says

      First of all, yay for you for just going for it! When I want to try something new (to me, anyway), I do some research and find some recipes that are similar to what I’m going for to look at proportions of ingredients. Off the top of my head, it sounds like you needed more leavening and a higher temp. Muffins generally bake in a hot oven–maybe 425F or so, so the slower rise probably made for a denser muffin. How was the flavor, otherwise? For me, the flavor is the thing, so if that part is good, you’re more than halfway there!

      • Vanessa says

        Hi Jennifer,

        Thank you for taking the time to respond to my question. The muffins were pretty bland. I’m going to do some research as you suggested because the pie came out so well I’ll make the recipe again, which means another try at the muffins!

        • says

          Hopefully it’ll go better this time. Do make sure you’re using a reasonable amount of salt in them. All desserts need it, but pumpkin *really* needs it to perk up the flavor. =)

  30. Chaya says

    Thank you so much for your well written information. Very helpful!
    I am iinterested in making whole grain muffins with whole spelt and whole wheat flour.
    Can I still expect to get a crusted top with these? Have you any tips or guidelines for baking muffins with whole grains?

    Also if I simply replace milk with soy, rice, or almond milk to make it non dairy would that work?

    • says

      Hi, Chaya! Glad you found the post helpful!

      I don’t do much baking with whole grain/whole wheat, so I don’t really know how to advise you there. I think that to get the nicest texture/peak, you may have to only sub about 30% of your total flour for whole grains.

      As to the milk, generally speaking, you should be fine to sub in coconut milk, soy milk, etc for the dairy. There may be a bit of a difference in texture, but it should be minimal.

  31. Chaya says

    Woops I left a a defunct email address in the previous post. Please use this one instead.
    I’m interested in the difference between using baking soda or baking powder. Why would a recipe call for one over the other in muffin recipes ….the effects etc.

    • says

      If you look at my post on leaveners, that will give you the basics: Baking soda is the actual leavener in both soda and powder. The powder is soda plus an acidic ingredient to balance the pH of the batter. Basic rule of thumb is to use baking powder as the neutral leavener and also baking soda to balance any acidic ingredients, at the rate of about 1/4 teaspoon per cup. Acidic ingredients that would need soda to balance them out include coffee, buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream, molasses/brown sugar (if enough if used), etc.

  32. Suzanne says

    I made 2 dozen Blueberry Banana Oat muffins this morning…tasty, but pretty darn flat. I found this post and decided to try your recipe right away. This time I made Chocolate chip muffins, what a difference! I doubled your recipe but only had about four oz of milk..made up the difference with 6 oz of greek yogurt and a little water. They turned out beautiful! Can’t wait to fiddle with it some more! Thank you!

  33. Mauricio says

    Hi there , I find very good article , but I have a guestion , when we bake the muffing at 400 f , how long should we bake ?? 10-15 min ??

    Thank you

    • says

      It depends on a lot of factors: how dense your batter is, how accurate your oven is, what size muffins, etc. That’s why I often hesitate to give a solid answer. The glib answer is “until they’re done,” but it’s also true. I would give them a good 10-12 min and then check them and go from there. They could take as long as 20-ish minutes. I wish I could be more specific, but there are just too many variables. The good news is that once you figure out how long it takes in your oven, that can be your new target time.


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