Monday, December 21, 2009

Muffin Mania

Now that I know how to make muffins, I no longer have to purchase the overpriced muffins at our local bakery.

Even more satisfying -- I can bake my own muffins to bring to the girls' school for their breakfast "winter celebrations" this week.

Now I'm playing the role of the happy homemaker who vies to outshine the other parents with her homemade contributions. But don't feel bad if you didn't have time to make your own croissants or fresh szueezed orange juice. I'm just overcompensating for all of the years of bringing in napkins or plates.

The only catch is that Avo is out of town snowboarding and I'm stuck inside with a sick kid and only three eggs and one banana (luckily, I stocked up on butter!). I just used two eggs for the sour cream muffins I baked for Ruby's class. Now I might have to get creative and make a pseudo-banana muffin for Jesse's class with one egg and one banana, rather than the 2-3 bananas called for in the recipe.

I learned a couple of tips about muffin-making (forgive me if you already know this):

1. Don't over mix muffin dough. It should be clumpy or else your muffins will be too dense.

2. If you're not going to eat the muffins right away, add more butter or oil than the recipe calls for or else they'll get too dry.

3. You know your muffins are done when the tops are golden and spring back lightly when touched, a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Oops. Apparently, you're supposed to put the muffin pan on the middle rack in the oven. I didn't do this, but the muffins still turned out okay. Still, it seems like good advice.

Another tip I learned too late for this batch: Sift flour for best results and use fresh baking soda and powder since so muffins rise nicely. I just checked and my baking soda expired in 1993!

Luckily, I knew enough to let the muffins sit in the tin for a few minutes after removing them from the oven. Usually, I rush to take them out and they fall apart.

But I didn't know that some muffin experts advise setting the pan on a cool wet towel to prevent the muffins from sticking to the bottom. Just be careful that you don't keep the muffins in the tin for longer than 5 minutes or else they might get soggy.

Clearly, I still have a lot to learn about baking muffins! Still, the first batch came out pretty well.

"It tastes like cake!" said Jesse. I think that qualifies as a good review. Personally, I think they're a little too bland, but I doubt that the pre-K kids will be too discerning.

Aside from the pride I take in bringing in homemade goods, I'm also appreciating the warmth that the oven is generating since it's freezing here in Brooklyn!

UPDATE: That'll teach me to get too cocky about my muffin-making skills. The banana muffins were a disaster. Since I didn't have enough bananas, I poured in some milk. To compensate for the lack of banana sweetness, I tossed in some chocolate chip cookies. I forgot that unlike cooking, baking requires that you follow the recipe. I paid for my "creativity."

Instead of the nice, puffy muffin tops I aspired to, my muffin tops turned out deflated and basically concave. The inside is gooey and undercooked.I think even the pre-K kids are savvy enough to notice that these muffins suck. Jesse agreed that the muffins are inedible. Sadly, I just tossed them in the trash.

Now it seems I might have to patronize the pricey bakery around the corner. Maybe I should have volunteered to bring the napkins and plates after all.

Meanwhile, if you have muffin problems and need to diagnose what went wrong, check out this helpful site.


Lorraine said...

Don't be discouraged. You just need a few more practice runs.

Though two eggs are nice, one is enough for any muffin recipe.

I have a feeling you added too much milk--you only need enough moist ingredients to barely bind the dry ingredients.

Try adding less milk and blending with few swift strokes: Over-beating is also a killer for muffins as it toughens the batter.

For "Emergencny Muffins," when you're short on an ingredient--like bananas--try adding instead:

*Grated apple or applesauce and cinnamon
*Juice and finely grated rind of an orange
*Any fruit puree (Peel and cook fruit in a little water. Drain and puree in blender)
*Canned pumpkin or peeled baked yams (mashed) plus cinnamon

Bernie Bernstein said...

It's Me, Mom - I can't believe you're teaching me now. I never knew to use a cool, wet towel under muffinsw while they're cooling.

As for Lorraine's Emergency Muffins..don't add all of the suggestions at once, just choose one line from the list or you'll run into trouble.

As I've said before, I'm really, really proud of you.