Monday, January 23, 2012
Make Ahead Muffins ~ Easy Delicious Recipe
Truth be told, muffins aren't really my thing. In fact, pastries in general aren't really my thing but if I had a morning pastry of choice it would be a chocolate croissant. No fancy glazes or swirls on top. Just a great, flaky croissant with dark, dark chocolate inside. But really, in the morning I prefer to have a bowl of plain yogurt, a green smoothie or a piece of cold pizza.
But back to muffins...
Mike loves muffins. I think this is the only reason I can drag him into Whole Foods some days (some seriously good muffins over there, if you weren't aware).
As much as Mike loves muffins, I dislike making them. Muffin recipes frustrate me. Most produce dry, flavorless results that are only edible within the first 5 minutes out of the oven. The rest I end up feeding the dog later on in the afternoon.
When we opened our bakery, The Homestead, I knew I needed to find a good muffin recipe. I researched for weeks trying to find a basic recipe that would allow me to change flavors with the seasonal ingredients available.
And when I found this cookbook (yes, the same one that those amazing biscuits came from), I knew I had a winner. Customers at the bakery loved the strawberry/banana muffins the most with blueberry running a close second.
Again, as with the biscuits, the beauty of this recipe is that the batter can be made ahead, frozen in the muffin liners and baked from their frozen state whenever. No need to thaw. Genius.
I have indicated the slight change I made to the recipe with an asterisk.
(The Best Make Ahead Recipe Cookbook~Cooks Illustrated)
3 cups (15 oz) all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
10 Tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 oz) sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
*I use half buttermilk and half yogurt. I think the buttermilk makes it a bit tangier and fluffier. I tinkered with the ratios quite a bit at the bakery and half and half is where I ended up liking the flavor and texture the most.
1. Coat a 12 cup muffin tin with oil spray (I use liners). Set aside. Whisk together the flour, powder, soda and salt. Set aside.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and beat in half of the flour mixture, followed by one third of the yogurt (or yogurt/buttermilk mixture). Beat in half of the remaining flour mixture, followed by half of the remaining yogurt; repeat with the remaining flour mixture and yogurt.
4. * Mix in, by hand, any fruit or flavorings at this time. The amount of how much to add is always a personal preference issue for me. Start with 1 cup of blueberries, dried apricots, chocolate chips, etc... and go from there if you think it needs more.
5. Portion the batter evenly into prepared muffin tins or liners.
6. To store: Wrap the muffin tin tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours or freeze up to 1 month. (after the muffin batter is completely frozen you can pop the batter out of the tin or take the entire paper liner out of the tin and store them in freezer bags. Transfer back into a muffin pan to bake).
7. To serve: Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap the muffins and bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes if refrigerated, or 35 to 40 minutes if frozen.
* Here is another tip that I have learned along the way about getting good "height" on a muffin. Start the oven temperature up to 425 degrees and put the muffins in at that temperature for the first 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, lower the temperature back down to 375 and finish baking (it may take a little less time than what the recipe says, so keep an eye on them). The initial high heat helps boost those muffins up in height.