To make perfect muffins, employ the techniques outlined here along with the techniques described in the mixing methods:
1. In preparation, grease the muffin tins. We like the spray oils from an aerosol can to reach the corners of the tins. Be sure to cover the top edges where the muffins will flow when baking. (You can use paper liners but since the batter adheres slightly to the paper, you will have slightly less volume to the muffins.)
2. Set the oven to preheat. Temperature is one of the secrets to those nicely domed muffins that you find in the better bake shops. Commercial ovens use precise heat settings and timers. In the kitchen, we can approximate those results by:
a. Making sure that the oven is completely heated before baking. We like to let the oven sit at full temperature for at least ten minutes before baking so that the heat is well-absorbed into the structure of the oven.
b. Closing the door as quickly as possible to keep the heat trapped.
c. Setting the temperature at a higher initial setting and lowering the temperature later. The higher heat creates a burst of steam that lifts the batter.
d. Placing the muffins in the upper third of the oven where it tends to be hotter and the heat more constant.
3. Always measure flour precisely using a scale if you have one. Muffin recipes are sensitive to the ratio of flour to liquid. Too much flour and the muffin will not rise properly and will be dry. Too little flour and the muffin will flow over the edges of the muffin cup rather than dome nicely. If you need to fine tune your favorite recipe, change the flour by a tablespoon or two.
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4. To make cake-like muffins, use a lower protein flour—cake or pastry flour. Higher protein all purpose or bread flours will make a muffin that is chewier and more bread-like.
5. If you are using fruit in your muffins, fold them in gently at the end of your mixing with a minimum number of folds. Fruit crushes easily in the thick batter and the juice will stain the batter.
6. Fill the muffin tins with a large spoon or ice cream scoop. Make sure that the muffin tins are evenly filled so that they bake evenly. Most recipes direct that the muffin tins be filled 2/3’s full to allow room for expansion. If your batter is at the right consistency, you can fill the tins for a nice dome on the muffins. (Our mixes are designed for full tins.)
7. Bake the muffins until they are a light golden brown. The muffin top should spring back when gently pressed with the finger and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Over-baked muffins will be dry and tough. Under baked muffins may be moist and heavy.
8. It is easy to tear apart hot muffins trying to lift them from the tins. Instead, let the muffins sit for a few minutes and you should be able to easily lift them out intact. Place them on wire racks to continue cooling.
9. Muffins are best served hot and do not keep well beyond the first day. Freeze any extras
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