Guys. GUYS. I’ve come up with a muffin recipe that I think comes super close to those cake-mix-enhanced Costco/Dunkin Donuts/Panera Bread muffins. And not for lack of trying. Indeed, I’m quite certain that my office kin either love me or hate me, or are currently in a state of emotional turmoil over whether to love me or hate because for the past month, I’ve been bringing in muffins every. Single. Week; in order to use these poor (?) souls as my guinea pigs.
Well. Let’s be honest.
In order to use these poor souls as a less wasteful garbage disposal. I’m certainly not going to eat 12 muffins every week by myself; and for as much as I admire Ryan’s ability to sock food away in that black hole of a stomach of his, he draws the line at 6 in one sitting. They nevertheless have crowned me “Queen of the Fourth [floor],” and I am now happy hour liaison and muffin harbinger.
If you read my blog, I’m sure by now you are familiar with my particular brand of neuroses, whereby I choose a foodstuff and commit to working at it until I reach my brand of perfection. Why it was muffins this time, I do not recall. It’s been so long since the inception of the obsession that I’ve forgotten. BUT. I do recall the goal: Mazarro’s Italian Market’s daily rotating muffins. I worked there for three years, and above all other pastries (cannolis included, mind you), the muffins were always my favorites. They were moist (oooohhh, so moist), but not cake-like. They had just enough structure to push them past the daintiness that exemplifies the “cake,” and had this almost oily density, which prevented the crumb from disintegrating in your fingers as you pulled chunks from it to shove unceremoniously into your piehole.
And those sugar-coated tops?!
But I knew that they were doctored up with processed baking mix (which, in addition to hydrogenated fats, contain certain gums and other starches that are not easily accessible to the lowly weekend baker). That’s not to say I won’t tackle the doctored muffins next; but this attempt was more a matter of pride: nature v. artificial…man v. machine…SURVIVAL OF THE ORGANIC IN THE FACE OF A.I. DESTRUCTION!!
Or something like that.
So, I set about researching. I spent hours pouring over Martha Stewart and Alton Brown; King Arthur Flour and AllRecipes; Copycat Starbucks and Otis Spunkmeyer…and of course, my heroes, Brown Eyed Baker and Sally’s Baking Addiction; until I pieced together a starting ratio. After that, came experimenting and adjusting until I came up with this:
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons All Purpose Flour (I use White Lily)
2 ½ teaspoons Baking Power
½ teaspoon Salt
1 cup Sugar
½ cup milk (full fat) (you may need to add a couple of tablespoons more depending on whether you add any juicy fruits/purees/ etc.)
½ cup oil
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin tin.
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (including the sugar).
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until emulsified.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet, then fold just to combine.
- Fill the muffin cups all the way to the top.
- Sprinkle with large sugar granules and pop into the oven.
- Bake for 17-25 minutes—you’ll know they’re done when they are slightly brown and puffed up. You can always use the toothpick test to be sure.
Add ½ cup citron; 1 teaspoon orange peel, and sub the 2 tablespoons of mils with 2 tablespoons of orange juice (freshly squeezed from that orange you just zested). Top with cinnamon sugar.
Add 1 cup of blueberries.
Banana Chocolate Chip
Sub most of the milk with 2 mashed bananas. Keep 2-3 tablespoons of the milk to maintain a batter-dough-like consistency. Add four 2/3 cups of chocolate chips.
More variations to come.