Monday, March 16, 2009
MUFFINS WITH A STREUSEL TOPPING
The most exasperating thing, for me, about making muffins is when they don't dome. It drives me nuts when they don't dome (enough). And nothing could make me feel worse than when I step into a Starbucks and one of the first things that greet me are their ridiculously domed muffins.
Their muffins are so domed that I was discouraged from making muffins for a time. I had became so envious of their domed muffins that all I did when I went there was to drop my jaw, hurry home, check out some muffin recipes, test them out and having achieved less than perfect domes I simply went back there and gawked again.
I scrutinized the edges, inspected them, furrowed my eyebrows and then one day I had the AHA! moment. I realized, finally, that Starbucks have, very, very sneakily, used custom made muffin tins in which they have had 'steps' installed. Ones that rimmed over, above and around the rims of the normal muffin moulds which elevated the edges of all their muffins one step higher, tricking us into seeing and believing that their little/huge muffins were oh so very, very domed. Smart little alecs! I thought.
Just to be certain that I wasn't just imagining this, out of the envy that was burning a hole in my heart, I went back there yet again, goggled stupidly at them muffins and trotted back home completely satisfied. Yup! it was the mould all right! I drew a cross-section of a Starbucks muffin in my little notebook, showed it to my children and I convinced them vehemently that it was the mould, all in the mould and nothing but the mould. I rested my case. Now just in case you were thinking that this is all a made up story for the sake of being silly let me tell you that it isn't. Baking activates the nutty in me and I let nothing surpass me. Not even an unbelievably domed Starbucks muffin.
So this is a pretty good if not a very good muffin recipe extracted from about.com. Its plain vanilla but with a very lovely streusel topping that adds a just right sweet edge to every bite. Very YUM!
But I can't stress enough how important it is to never overmix the muffin mixture. It does make a lot of difference to its tenderness after its baked. The mixture that I mixed looked like curdled/rancid milk with some lumps of not quite mixed in flour. But that was good, I was told, ugly but good. And so it was. And the muffins turned out beautifully domed. As domed as a dome that a common muffin tin could produce. Makes 8 muffins.
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt1 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 large egg
4 oz butter, melted and cooled
Sift and mix dry ingredients. Beat eggs and sugar in another bowl. Add vanilla. Add cooled, melted butter to the egg-milk mixture bit by bit until incorporated.
Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients using a fork or spatula until just incorporated but not smooth. Let it be lumpy with some bits of flour still visible. That's is perfectly ok. Spoon immediately into muffin tins almost filling the paper cases or muffin tins. You'll get about 8 muffins. Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with the streusel mixture and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 C for the first 10 minutes and 180 C last 10 minutes.
PS : Filling the tins almost full (more than 3/4 full) and baking them at a high temperature for the first ten minutes helps in getting them nice and domed. Don't forget to turn the temperature down after that otherwise your muffins will be dry and overbaked!
Streusel mixture :
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 oz butter
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Mix all ingredients together until like breadcrumbs. Sprinkle on top of muffins just before baking them.