If your morning routine includes a coffee shop stop to grab joe and a muffin, you need this story.
If your dinner menu’s looking a little uninspired, you also need this story.
We have a way for you to have your muffin and eat it, too — any time of day, any way you want it. It’ll help your wallet, too. Whether you want sweet, chockablock with fruit and nuts, or savory, redolent with cheese and chiles or other savory ingredients, this baking mix lets you have muffins in minutes.
The baking mix is also a boon to have on hand for last-minute baking tasks, such as when your child informs you at 9 p.m. that tomorrow is her day to take a treat, or when friends pop by unexpectedly.
Store the mix at room temperature and make up a batch whenever you have a few minutes. Then freeze the cooled muffins in individual portions for quick grab-and-go snacks. It’s better to freeze the baked muffins than to freeze the batter.
Having the mix on hand allows for easy improvisation. Add a little vanilla to the batter if you’re going for sweet muffins. Top the muffins before baking with a simple streusel of 3 tablespoons flour, 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons softened butter, if you like. Or, while the muffins bake, you may wish to make a simple glaze or icing from powdered sugar, milk and vanilla to gild them when they’ve cooled.
Some sweet add-in combinations that I especially like include:
— ¾ cup toasted coconut, ¾ cup diced pineapple and 1 tablespoon rum extract
— ¾ cup diced apple or pear and ¾ cup chopped dates
— 1 cup peanut butter chips, ¼ cup powdered peanut butter and ¼ cup cocoa
— ¾ cup mashed banana and ½ cup chopped walnuts
— 1 cup mashed pumpkin or butternut squash, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 teaspoon each of nutmeg and ginger
— 1 cup fresh blueberries (toss these with the dry ingredients so they won’t sink to the bottom of the muffins) and 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
On the other side of the fence, savory muffins match up well with simple suppers of soup, stew or chili. Some savory add-in combinations that have pleased me include:
— 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels, ½ cup shredded cheddar and ¼ cup diced roasted chiles OR 1 tablespoon chili powder and 2 teaspoons cumin
— 1 cup diced brie (with rind removed) and ½ cup chopped walnuts
— 1 cup thawed frozen chopped spinach, ½ cup crumbled feta, 2 teaspoons dried oregano and 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
— ¾ cup diced ham, ¾ cup diced Swiss or Emmentaler cheese and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
— ¾ cup crumbled blue cheese, ¾ cup cooked, crumbled bacon and 2 teaspoons sage
— ½ cup pesto, ¾ cup pine nuts and ½ cup grated Parmesan (sprinkle some of the cheese on top before baking)
Keep this mix on hand for easy muffins in a jiffy. After mixing the ingredients, divide the batch into recipe-sized portions and store in 1 quart canning jars or zip-close quart bags. It keeps perfectly well at room temperature for several months. Whisk the dry ingredients for each batch to be sure they’re well blended. The baking temperature instructions are a little unusual: If you put the muffins into a hot oven for a short time, they rise higher and look better. Then reducing the temp lets them continue to cook through.
MULTIPLE MUFFIN MIX
7 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled
1 cup whole-wheat flour or cornmeal, spooned into measuring cup and leveled
3 cups sugar: any combination of firmly packed brown sugar OR white sugar
3 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
For each batch of 12 regular or 6 large muffins:
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
½ cup oil: melted coconut oil, canola oil OR vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla, for sweet muffins (optional)
2¾ cup baking mix (above)
Add-ins: up to 1½ cups any combination of fruit, vegetables, grated or diced cheese, baking chips, nuts or toasted coconut
Make the baking mix: In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Combine thoroughly and portion for storage.
At baking time, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line the cavities of a muffin pan with paper liners.
Combine egg, milk and oil in a large bowl. Whisk to combine well. Add baking mix and your choice of add-ins; combine with 15 to 20 strokes. There will still be streaks of white showing and the batter will be lumpy. Do not overmix.
Fill the muffin cups three-quarters full with the batter. Bake, 10 minutes. Then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 8 to 11 minutes more for regular-sized muffins, or 15 to 20 minutes more for large muffins.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring muffins to a rack to finish cooling.
Once cool, the muffins can be individually frozen on a baking pan before transferring to zip-close bags for longer storage, up to 3 months. Thaw by microwaving for about a minute or allow them to thaw naturally at room temperature.
Prep: 30 minutes; bake: 28-31 minutes; makes 4 batches, or about 36 large or 48 small muffins.
Nutrition information per serving: 221 calories, 10 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 17 mg cholesterol, 30 g carbohydrates, 14 g sugar, 3 g protein, 204 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.