Why a basic muffin? It's a good question. Assuming you want muffins, wouldn't you want them with blueberries or chocolate chips or nuts or raisins or, you know, something?
But before you answer the question, consider these three words: plain cake donuts.
In other words, sometimes you're in the mood for something simple. In fact, sometimes simple ends up being better. For one thing, you actually taste the muffin.
But also, sure, you might want to start with this basic muffin recipe and stir in a cup of something, blueberries, chocolate chips or whatever. And if you do, here's a tip: Add your stir-ins with the dry ingredients, rather than stirring them in at the end. Coating them with flour will help prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins while they bake.
By the way, using freshly ground spices instead of ground spices from jars is always going to produce better results, because the ones in the jars go stale quickly and lose their flavor. You can get whole cinnamon sticks and whole nutmeg and grate them using a spice grater like this Microplane.
Finally, if you want to spruce your muffins up a little bit, here's a recipe for a cinnamon streusel topping you can mix up in just a few seconds.
- 260 grams all-purpose flour (about 2 cups) or pastry flour (2 1/4 cups), sifted
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 4 Tbsp butter (½ stick)
- Preheat your oven to 400F.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
- Heat the butter in the microwave, in a microwave-safe bowl, for about a minute, until it's thoroughly melted. Set it aside at room temperature to cool, but don't let it solidify again.
- Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and then add the sugar, milk and vanilla.
- Thoroughly grease and flour a 12-cup muffin pan (or use paper muffin liners).
- Ensure that the melted butter is warm but not hot. Pour a tiny bit of the butter into the egg-vanilla-milk mixture and stir it in. Repeat a few more times, adding a slightly larger amount of the liquid butter each time until it's all incorporated.
- Now add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones and mix just until the dry ingredients are barely incorporated. Don't mix too long! Ten to 15 seconds at the most. The batter will be visibly lumpy, and you may see pockets of dry flour, but that's okay. Overmixing the batter will cause your muffins to be rubbery.
- Let the batter rest for 10 to 15 minutes, to allow the glutens in the flour to relax, and some of those pockets of dry flour to dissolve.
- Gently pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and bake immediately.
- Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.