14 February 2013

THE muffins

Dear Lissy,

You just rode off in Grammy's Volvo for a girls' afternoon out.  Shotgun.  You are getting big too fast!  I'm going to take a few minutes while you're busy with my momma to write out THE muffin recipe. It seems appropriate for my 200th letter.

I take peculiar delight in everyday recipes that exceed expectations.  The perfect crispy-juicy baked chicken.   A silky, creamy pan of mac and cheese with crunchy buttered crumbs.  These are my go-to muffins when I want to make something extra special.  They dome very high, and mushroom over their base with a crispy-crunchy sweet ring of muffin nirvana.  The inside is moist, sweet, and flavorful with a fine crumb.

They are, quite frankly, muffin perfection. There is a good reason for every ingredient, every step.  Don't substitute anything.   Follow directions perfectly.  If you're missing an ingredient, make a different muffin or take a trip to the market.  Not my usual instruction by a long shot, but any shortcuts or substitutions ruin the end product.
Just look at that crunchy ring of awesomeness around the top edge!
Bakery Muffins
from The Perfect Recipe
Makes 12 (1/2 cup) or 18 (1/3 cup) muffins -- check your pan size

Master recipe
Preheat oven to 375, place rack 1 slot above the middle.
Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with pan release (see recipe below).  Be sure to brush the top of the pan, too, so the domed portion of the muffin doesn't stick.  DO NOT USE MUFFIN PAPERS.  I haven't had good luck with pan spray, either, but if you have a teflon coated muffin tin, it might work.

Mix and set aside:
12.75 oz (3 cups) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

In a separate large bowl, cream together until light and fluffy (3 minutes or more):
10 Tbsp room temperature butter 
1 cup sugar

Add one at a time, beating well after each addition:
2 large eggs

Measure out:
1-1/2 cups plain, lowfat yogurt.  

Beat in half of dry ingredients.  All of the flour needs to be well coated with fat to prevent too much gluten from forming and toughening up the muffins.

**This is not a regular muffin recipe.  The ingredients need to beaten, not folded in.  The muffins will not get tunneled or tough.

Now beat in 1/2 cup of the yogurt.

Beat in the remainder of the dry ingredients, alternating with the remaining 1 cup of yogurt.
Mocha chip muffin batter ready to go in the oven for Valentine's Day breakfast. 
Use a large cookie scoop to divvy up the batter into 12 cups.  You will have to scoop under the batter like you're scooping ice cream.  The scoops will be rounded, not level.  There should be a ball of dough in each muffin cup, and it will look like way too much batter in each cup.  That's OK.
And. . .drumroll. . . hot out of the oven.  Remember that warning
about not substituting?  One half whole wheat flour meant these
muffins didn't "dome" properly.
Bake until golden brown and pick tests clean, 20-25 minutes.  Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes, and remove from pan.  Serve warm.

Pan release:  Beat together 1/2 cup Crisco and 1/2 cup flour until thoroughly incorporated.  Slowly add 1/2 cup vegetable oil with mixer running until mixture is light and fluffy.  Brush onto muffin, loaf, or cake tins with a pastry brush.  Store in airtight container at room temperature, stirring to recombine if needed.
Kitchen carnage!  
Lemon Blueberry:  Beat in 1 tsp lemon zest with butter and sugar.  Fold in 1-1/2 cup frozen or fresh wild blueberries tossed with 1 Tbsp. flour when batter is done.  While muffins are baking, heat 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan until sugar dissolves and forms a light syrup.  Brush warm syrup over muffins before serving.

Almond Poppyseed:  Cream in 2 Tbsp (1 oz) almond paste with butter and sugar.  Add 3 TBSP poppy seeds to dry ingredients before incorporating into batter.

Mocha Chip:  Dissolve 3 TBSP instant coffee granules into yogurt before adding to muffins.  Fold in 1 cup mini chocolate chips when batter is complete.  Sprinkle muffins with clear sugar crystals before baking.

Many, many more variation are in The Perfect Recipe by Pam Anderson.

Expensive and a nutritional bomb, these aren't our "everyday" muffins.  I make them when we have missionaries over, or a family is sitting in hospital with a loved one. I've often used this recipe for bake sales or just a little personal income since they sell well, too.  It makes me happy to think about you making these for your co-workers or family some day!

 Love you my little muffin,

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