Song: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye
I might not be a master in creating gourmet dessert or haute cuture cuisine, but I may humbly say that I rarely fail in baking mountain high muffins, no matter what recipe I used. I guess it’s a gift? Noooo, no, no, no, no. You can tackle any muffin recipe as long as you grasp the basic principles of muffin baking, ones I would like to share with you on this cloudy monday.
- Do not be confused by different methods.
There are two kind of methods I know: the classic method, one that tells you to pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir them just until moistened, creating lumpy batter; and the one you whip with electric mixer while hot, creating a batter similar to pancake’s, I call this Ruri’s method (‘coz Ruri introduced this method to me).
Both methods work fine. They’re just slightly different in texture. The first method creates crumbly texture, while the other one creates spongy texture. You just have to try both to decide which ones you like the best.
- The dynamic duo: leavener and temperature
These two things are the essentials in rising the muffin in the oven and create those high mounds we love. So make sure the leavener is fresh and works well (baking powder and or baking soda), and your oven is very hot to work sparingly with the leavener. Preheat your oven at high temperature (200-220 Celcius degree) for at least 15 minutes before the actual baking. After you put your muffin in the oven, you can adjust the temperature as needed.
If you’re using electric oven, use BOTH UPPER AND LOWER HEAT. This is important, because one of the reasons why muffins refuse to rise high is because the upper area of the oven is not as hot as the lower area. Therefore, make sure your oven heats evenly.
- No tapping, please
Do not tap the pan. While sponge cake batter needs to be tapped once in a pan to eliminate any excess bubles and spread the needed buble evenly in the cake, it is NOT the same case with muffin. It needs no tapping, it even hates tapping! On the other hand,….it needs the batter to be mounded up in the middle.
- Mound up your batter
The fastest and easiest way to do this is using the pastry bag/piping bag, otherwise you can use ice cream scoop or two spoons (thanks, Liz). Drop the batter right in the middle of each muffin hole and let it spread itself from there. Classic method muffin will create the mound alright, but Ruri’s method will create flat batter. That’s alright, do not panic. As long as you drop the batter right in the middle of each hole, we’re gonna be okay.
- Fill it up
Fill your muffin tins full to the upper rim. It’s not cupcake, remember? We need our muffin to be high, so it needs all the batter available in one tiny cup to rise and rise more. Don’t worry about the batter would spill. The batter on the rim would have been baked already and become a firm guard when the middle starts to rise, forcing the batter to break through the middle, creating the mound you want. In fact, if you have like 1 cup batter left, do not use it to fill another cup. Instead, use it to add a little bit extra batter to each hole. Once again mind you, drop it right in the middle.
- With a little help from the steam
Try not fill all the cups with batter. Leave one empty, and instead, fill it halfway with water. The steam will help the batter rise even better. Do not fill it too full, unless you’re ready for water splashing tragedy.
If you already filled them all, well, don’t be discouraged. Your muffins will be okay still. You can always experiment anytime you want.
- Oh, so hot!
By the time you reach this stage, your oven should be very hot, both upper and lower area. That’s good. Now, put the pan on the middle rack of the oven and set the actual temperature. Mind the rule of thumb: the smaller the food, the faster it should be baked, therefore the hotter the temperature should be. The bigger the food, the longer it should be baked, therefore the cooler the temperature should be. My magic numbers are 200 Celcius degree for 15 minutes for mini muffins, and 180 Celcius degree for 20 minutes for large muffins. You know your oven better, so you know what to do.
- Watch it rise
Check your muffins about 2-3 minutes before it’s done and watch them rise high. High, high up in the sky! Test with skewer, and take it out from the oven. DO NOT OVERBAKE or they will turn out dry. Let it cool on the rack. Wrap individually to ensure their freshness.
Muffin batter in Ruri’s method. Left: Before adding the eggs. Right: After adding the eggs.
About the muffins:
- Chocolate muffins: adapted from Eliza’s muffin recipe
- Other muffins: adapted from various recipes, including Ruri’s.
Flickr’s tag: muffin