Some days you just want a good muffin for breakfast, snacking, or even the early lunch. One of the easiest ways to learn how to make great muffins is to start with a cake mix. Making muffins is all about texture and flavor. The larger the muffin the easier it is to become dry, hard, crumbly, or tasteless.
I have found the best way to start a novice muffin baker is to start with a cake mix and work from there. Cake mix allows for the addition of fruits and chips while automatically keeping the base well balanced. Once you learn how muffins should rise and appear, moving on to homemade muffins is a piece of cake!
Here are a few things to remember when making muffins...
- Less is more. You do not need to add a variety of flavors and textures into your muffin. Simple flavors equal bold, full flavors.
- Toppings are not toppings. If you are choosing to add a strudel, crumb, or confection topping, make it part of the muffin not an add on. Adding too much to the top can overwork the flavors of the muffin. Plan your muffin to work with the topping not against it.
- Bigger is not always better. Just because a muffin is extremely large in size does not mean it is better tasting. Most muffins are perfect when the muffin cup is filled 2/3 of the way full before baking. Filling larger can create a dry or over baked flavor.
- Too much is not enough. Baking your muffins to the right temperature is key. Half baked muffins can not be re-baked to finish them. Even worse over baking muffins can turn them hard and the will lack in flavor.
- Cooling is key. Most recipes need to be cooled properly to allow muffins to set the the right texture. Allow muffins to cool for a short time in pan and then on a cooling rack. Do not cool muffins in closed containers or bags, it creates excess moisture and muffins become soggy or will go bad faster. Do not cool in refrigerator, muffins will become hard and will not regain a fully soft texture when at room texture.
Now that we have talked about the keys to making a great muffin lets get started on a batch. You are going to need a few things to get started:
The needs for base-
1 box cake mix, any variety as long as it is 17-19 oz
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
For Mix-ins (choose 1 or 2 maximum)-
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup berries (blueberry, raspberry, ect)
1 cup chopped nuts
2 tsp poppy seeds
Preheat you oven to 325' and line a 6 cup muffin tin with paper liners or lightly spray them with cooking spray. I highly recommend the liners, better for the portability of muffins later.
Mix all base ingredients in a large bowl until well blended.
Fold in your mix-ins.
Spoon batter into muffin tin, filling 2/3 of the way.
Bake in oven for 25 minutes and then rotate tray 180'.
Bake for an additional 10-20 minutes, checking to see if they are done at the 10 minute mark.
To do so, insert a toothpick into the center of the largest and smallest muffin. If it comes out clean of both. If it does not bake in for an additional 5 minutes and retest.
Once baked, allow pan to sit for 2-3 minutes.
Flip muffins out carefully and let rest until fully cooled on a wire rack or cutting board.
Muffins will be good for 5-7 days is kept in a sealed airtight container.