I’ve been hunting for you. I’ve been dropping serious dime in cafés everywhere to find out where you are. What makes you so dangerously irresistible? I’ve been asking around, and I’ve been tipped off by professionals in your kind of business. I’m on to you, Muffin. I’m on to you. I finally know what makes you tick. And I’m about to expose you for the greater good of all muffin lovers everywhere. Consider yourself found.
~ Gal Foodie
For years, the perfect muffin has eluded me. I don’t consider myself a prolific baker. I tend to shoot from the hip when I’m in the kitchen, and baking is so, well, safe. But to be able to wake the house up on Sunday morning with the smell of perfectly moist, fresh baked muffins? I’ll risk playing it safe. Sort of.
I have used mixes. I have used recipes from Joy of Cooking, Fannie Farmer, Stonewall Kitchen, the Internet… the list goes on. I had yet to make a muffin that wasn’t flat on top, with the consistency and taste of dry cardboard. And then my friend Jean Kerr gave me a copy of her cookbook Windjammer Cooking: Great Recipes from Maine’s Windjammer Fleet, and after I was done deftly identifying all the schooners I had sailed or worked on in my “former life,” I discovered the recipe on page 82 for Orange-Chocolate Muffins.
I didn’t make them.
But the recipe intrigued me because unlike other recipes, it required very little butter, the liquid was orange juice, not milk, and it had very few other ingredients. It also didn’t have “penalty of death” warnings of over-mixing, although I will tell you that through trial and error, over-mixing muffin batter usually does result in lead-like muffins that are better suited for Tom Brady-style practice throws off my deck.
I decided to use this muffin recipe as my baseline, and started switching things up, experimenting with different liquids and measures and ingredients. I shared an almost perfect batch of the modified muffin with Jean and the cookbook’s co-author, Spencer Smith, and both gave it a resounding “Delicious!” But I wasn’t done. It still wasn’t right.
Batches later… Victory was mine. I captured the Perfect Muffin.
Strawberry Banana Peach Muffins
Makes 5-6 Jumbo Muffins
2 cups Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Eggs, beaten
1/2 – 3/4 cups Peach Juice
3 tbsp Melted Butter
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Very Ripe Banana, mashed
2 cups Sliced Fresh Strawberries
Sugar In The Raw for sprinkled topping
1. Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease a jumbo muffin tin – I use jumbo muffin cup liners to make it easier to clean.
2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, making sure to mix well.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together all wet ingredients, including the banana.
4. Combine all ingredients in the large bowl, add strawberries, and hand mix until just combined. The batter should be wet but not runny. If it seems too dry, add touches of juice until it is mixable. Do not over mix unless you want to practice your football passes later.
5. Fill muffin cups completely to the top. This will result in a nice round top. Sprinkle with raw sugar.
6. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until centers are firm to the touch, and tops are just beginning to brown. I have found that this particular recipe yields about 5 jumbo muffins. Smaller muffin cups can be used, just reduce the cooking time, but still fill cups to the top edge for a full muffin experience.
Variations on a Theme:
I have used 1 cup of fresh chopped cranberries with orange juice – just add a little extra juice to accommodate for the missing moisture the banana would provide – or add a banana! I have also used 2 cups of Maine blueberries. I added them frozen right to the batter. I used milk but preferred using orange juice. Banana nut? Carrot raisin? What’s your poison? The key is making sure the batter has enough liquid, but isn’t runny.
Light, moist, sweet deliciousness is all mine.
Now that the hunt is over, I plan to sleep in next weekend.
~ Gal Foodie
P.S. There’s still time to enter the Dishin’ Up Love Recipe Contest!
P.S.S – Still need a sweet treat for Valentine’s Day? Check out last year’s blog post For the Love of Cheesecake.