Welcome to another mixing method post. Today, we’re talking about how to do the muffin method: what is the muffin method, muffin method steps, examples and more. There’s even a video for you to watch to learn the steps in the muffin mixing method.
Settle in, friends, because I’m not only going to teach you how to do the method but also help you understand why we make muffins using this method. Let’s go!
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The Muffin Method Mixing Method
Here’s another one of those basic mixing methods that can really mess us up. Sure, the muffin method sounds like a day at the beach:
- Dry in one bowl.
- Wet in another.
- Wet in dry.
- Stir, stir, stir.
But like with many things that seem easy and straightforward (yes, I’m talking to you, creme brulee), there are ways you can trip up.
And I don’t want that to happen to you.
What Is the Difference Between a Muffin and a Cupcake?
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.
What Else Can I Use The Muffin Method For?
The muffin method is the right mixing method to use if:
- The fat content is relatively low and is in liquid form (oil or melted butter)
- The sugar content is relatively low
- The amount of liquid is relatively high
Recipes that check these boxes, aside from muffins, are quick breads, pancakes, and waffles. Here are some recipes on my blog that use the muffin method:
- Brown Butter Blueberry Buckle
- Ritz Carlton Blueberry Muffins (pictured above)
- Sparkly Double Cinnamon Raisin Muffins (pictured below)
- Alton Brown Fruit Cake (you’ll see this is a modified muffin method because the wet mixture is cooked)
- Southern Cornbread with Hummus and Za’atar
- Pancakes for One
- Peachy Black and Blueberry Cake
How to Make Muffins, Step by Step
Here are the steps in the muffin method. This is a method you do not want to use the mixer for.
Trust me, as much as you love your stand mixer, your muffins will be better if you mix them gently by hand. More on this in a bit.
[bctt tweet=”As much as you love your stand mixer, your muffins will be better if you mix them gently by hand.”]
1. Whisk the dry ingredients–low-protein flour (White Lily is a nice one if you’re in the southern US, or use cake flour) together with salt, sugar, leavenings and any spices–together in a large bowl.
Whisk your dry ingredients together very well. You are looking for even dispersal of the salt and leaveners. Sifting doesn’t necessarily do a great job of this, so whisk all the dry together thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds. More would be good.
To be extra sure, sift and then whisk.
2. In another bowl or a large liquid measure, combine all the wet ingredients–dairy (milk, cream, 1/2 and 1/2, sour cream, creme fraiche), eggs, liquid fat, liquid flavorings.
Notice I said “liquid fat.” This is one of the points where the muffin method differs from the creaming method which relies on creaming solid fat and butter together to help with leavening.
When you add the fat to the liquid, you want to make sure that all of the liquid ingredients are at room temperature.
You want the fat to be evenly dispersed throughout the batter. For this to happen, you’re going to have to have the rest of the wet ingredients warm enough that the butter won’t turn hard on you the moment you pour it in the measuring cup.
3. Pour the wet on top of the dry and fold them gently together.
Let’s take a moment to really look at what’s going on here.
You’re trying to mix a lot of water-type ingredients together with flour that hasn’t been coated with fat. Remember, in the two-stage mixing method, we coated our flour with a good amount of fat to inhibit gluten formation. Here, we don’t have that luxury.
In the muffin method, we are pouring a ton of wet ingredients on poor, defenseless flour. How do we keep from having dense, chewy muffins, then?
- we’re using a low protein flour, so that’s a good thing–low protein equals less gluten formation.
- When mixing wet into naked flour with the intention of producing a tender muffin, easy does it. You really just want to fold the ingredients together, making sure that you limit agitation as much as possible.
Alton Brown says to stir for a count of ten, but your ten and my ten might be different. I say:
The batter will be somewhat lumpy, and it will be much thinner than a batter made with the creaming method, but you’ll just have to trust that it’ll be okay.
4. Scoop your batter into well greased (or paper-lined) muffin tins. Fill the cavities about 3/4 full.
At this point, if you are leavening with baking powder, you can let the batter sit for 15-20 minutes. This gives the flour time to properly hydrate.
It will sort of magically finish mixing itself. Double acting baking powder gives some rise when it gets wet and then some more when it gets hot, so your muffins will still rise in the oven, even after sitting out for a bit.
If the recipe only calls for baking soda, skip the resting step, as the bubbles are all given up when the soda gets wet.
With recipes that only call for baking soda, you want to get those little guys in the oven as quickly as possible before the chemical reaction stops.
5. Bake at a relatively high temperature–400 or even 425 degrees, F.
So, why this high temperature?
To me, and to lots of folks, muffins are defined by their crowns–their majestic peaks.
In order to get this to happen, you have to bake at a high enough temperature that the edges of the muffin set pretty quickly.
Picture it as the batter will setting in concentric circles, from the outside, in, and as each “band” of batter sets up, the remaining batter will continue to rise.
The last to set is the very peak. If you bake at a lower temperature, you will end up with something that looks more like a cupcake rather than a peaked muffin.
If you like them that way, go for it, and bake at a lower temperature. Just wanted you to know the “why” behind the peak.
6. Remove from oven. Cool in pans for about ten minutes, and then turn out to cool completely–or not. You could just go ahead and eat one.
After you’ve baked your muffins, you can test yourself to see if you’ve done an Excellent Job with the muffin method.
What To Look for In Your Muffin Crumb
- Cut or break a muffin in half, right down the middle, from peak to bottom.
- Look at the crumb. It should be fairly coarse but moist.
- It should also be very uniform. If you have little tunnels running up through the muffins, you know that you were a little too exuberant in your mixing.
- The tunnels show the path of air bubbles as they passed through the batter and were caught by sheets of gluten. The gluten then sets in that bubble-path shape, a silent reminder of your enthusiastic mixing.
- Tunnels are a sure sign of over-mixing your muffin batter.
[bctt tweet=”The tunnels show the path of air bubbles as they passed through the batter…”]
The Muffin Method: Video
Here is a great example of how to do the muffin method from Baker Bettie. If you are more of a visual learner, this video should help you to learn the steps and their sequence.
To get straight to the method, fast forward to the 29 second mark.
A Summary of the Steps in The Muffin Method
- Whisk dry ingredients together thoroughly.
- Have all wet ingredients at room temp. Not the creaming method’s magical “cool room temperature,” because you’re not worried about the butter remaining plastic–it’s already melted. By room temperature, I’m talking probably 75 degrees, F.
- Fold gently. Stop before you think you’re finished.
- Let the batter sit (baking powder only).
- Bake at a relatively high temperature.
What Size Should I Make My Muffins?
The keen thing about making muffins is that you can make them in all sorts of sizes–mini muffins, regular muffins or jumbo muffins. Pans are readily available, too, which makes it easy to get started.
I don’t recommend baking muffins in silicone muffin tins.
While they won’t stick, which is great, they also don’t brown since silicone is such a good insulator.
Save silicone molds for goods you won’t be baking, like ice cream and candies, or for lining your pans, as with Silpat. As far as I’m concerned metal pans are the way to go for baking muffins.
Basic Muffin Recipe using The Muffin Method
Here's a basic recipe to practice with. By basic, I mean: add any fruit, nuts, spices, zests that you want. Add chocolate chips. Change up the fat--use oil. Experiment with changing up the dairy. Top with streusel if you want. Make it your own.
A Note About Measurements
NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
This is the scale I use, love, and recommend:
I really hope this post helps you out, you guys! If you make muffins using the muffin method, please share a photo with me, either in the PCO Facebook Group or on instagram by tagging @onlinepastrychef and using hashtag #pcorecipe. Thanks, and enjoy!
- 8 oz low protein flour, ( 2 scant cups) such as cake flour, pastry flour or White Lily flour
- 3.5 oz (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 6 oz (3/4 cup) whole milk at room temperature
- 2 1/2 oz (5 Tablespoons or a little over 1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled to barely warm
- Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 425F.
- Line a 12-cavity muffin tin with paper liners or spray lightly with pan spray. Set aside.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl--flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Whisk together the wet ingredients in a small bowl--egg, milk, and melted butter.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the wet, and stir/fold until mixed but still a little lumpy.
- Allow the batter to sit for about 10 minutes, then portion out using a disher (ice cream scoop).
- Bake until well risen, nicely peaked, and deep golden brown on top, 15-20 minutes.
Baking time and yield are both for standard muffins. If making minis or jumbos, adjust accordingly.
Nutritional Information is calculated for the basic recipe, without any mix-ins.
- Flavor the batter with citrus zest, spices, extracts, and/or herbs.
- Mix in up to 2 cups of inclusions: fresh or frozen fruit (don't thaw frozen fruit), nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, etc. Toss together with the dry ingredients right before adding the wet ingredients. Use a mixture of inclusions to equal 2 cups. For example, 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, 1/2 cup chopped oranges, well drained, and 1/2 cup toasted pecans
- Top muffins with sparkling sugar or a simple streusel.
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Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1 muffin
Amount Per Serving Calories 166Total Fat 5.9gSaturated Fat 3.5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 30mgSodium 125mgCarbohydrates 25.4gFiber 0.6gSugar 9.2gProtein 3.2g
Now, go make some tender muffins. No tunnels.
Thank you for spending some time with me today. Take care, and have a lovely day.