Muffins are my very favourite snack. They are fast, easy, taste like cake but count as a sensible breakfast, and there is no upper limit to the flavours you can try. Personally I'm not a huge fan of savoury muffins, so I don't make them very often; and lately I've had to limit myself to the Low FODMAP diet. However, muffins are easily adapted to most food intolerances: in fact, you can substitute every single ingredient in a muffin recipe for something else!
We have two excellent basic muffin recipes over in the muffin node - one is standard, the other vegan - or you may have your own favourite recipe. Use whatever works for you.
A muffin is a simple cake. It is usually heavier than a cake; the ingredients and method require a muffin to rise, but still be strong enough to hold up whatever flavourings are added. Plus the method is a lot simpler, with fewer steps focussed on incorporating airy lightness than a cake. A good muffin should be sturdy enough to be taken on a picnic or in a lunchbox. Depending on the flavouring used, muffins can be a little dryer than cakes, but also significantly less sugary. They are equally at home with sweet or savoury flavours, and some types taste even better if you zap them in the microwave for 10 seconds and add a little bit of butter.
Muffins are usually made in two parts: the wet ingredients are mixed in a bowl or jug, and the dry ingredients are mixed in a bowl. The wet ingredients are then added to the dry ingredients, and lightly folded together. The secret to a good muffin is to mix as little as possible. Overmixed muffins are rubbery.
Most muffin recipes are very forgiving. Approximate measures are fine, especially when looking at quantities of fruit and chocolate chips. A muffin mix can be fairly dry through to really runny and work out fine, and you can make neat little muffins with a 2/3 full muffin cup or pile it high and create a great big muffin top.
Cooked muffins generally freeze quite well. Defrost them in your lunchbox or throw them in the microwave.
All the muffin varieties listed below are flavours I have made and tested myself. They all use Australian (that is to say, metric) measurements. I have tried to use links to clarify ingredients and measurements, but please be aware that my kitchen equipment, grocery availability and personal cooking style may be very different from yours. To make each muffin variety, simply start with a basic muffin recipe and adapt it as specified. I strongly encourage you to make and try your own variations! If you find any errors, or if any ingredients seem to be unfamiliar or confusing, please /msg me and I will help you out.
Okay, you ready for this? Let's go:
- ANZAC muffin
Use 1/4 cup brown sugar and 2 tbsp golden syrup for the sugar; reduce the flour to 1 1/2 cups, add 1/4 cup oatbran,
1/4 cup almond meal and 1/2 cup rolled oats. (If you are making these for a school lunch, leave out the almond meal and use 1 3/4 cups SR Flour).
- Apple and blackberry
To the wet mix add 3/4 cup of stewed apple (fresh or canned), mashed lightly. After mixing the wet and dry mix together very gently, add 1 cup of frozen,
fresh, or well-drained canned blackberries and mix very gently so the blackberries don't get crushed.
- Apple cinnamon
Grate 1 apple and add to the wet mix, along with any juice collected from the grating. Add 1 tsp ground cinnamon to the dry mix. Use raw or demerara sugar.
If you like, add 1 tsp cinnamon to 1/4 cup raw or demerara sugar and sprinkle this lightly over the top of the uncooked muffins to create a sugary crust on top.
- Apple and coconut
Add 1 grated apple or 3/4 cup stewed apple to the wet mix. Instead of oil/butter and milk, use 1 cup (or 1 can) of coconut cream. Add 1/4 cup of desecrated or shredded coconut to the dry mix.
- Apple and date
Chop 1/2 cup of dates. Put them in a bowl and sprinkle over 1/4 tsp bicarb, and 1/4 cup boiling water. Add to the wet mix along with 1 grated apple. Use an extra 1/4 cup of plain flour
in the dry mix, and use wholemeal flour if you have it.
- Apple tea
DO NOT simply use Turkish Apple Tea in a muffin. It is a Very Bad Idea. Measure 4 tsp (or 4 teabags) of green tea into a cup and add 1/2 cup of boiling water. Allow the tea to steep for 15 minutes, or longer if you like very strong tea. Leave the tea until it's cool. Add 1 cup of well mashed stewed or canned apple to the wet mix, along with the tea, and reduce the milk to 1/2 cup.
- Apple pineapple
Take the apple in one hand and the pineapple in the other hand. Say 'unh' while shoving them together and declare "apple pineapple!" Do not add any pens.
- Apple and sultana
Grate 1 apple and add to the wet mix along with 1/2 cup plain yoghurt. Reduce the sugar by half and use wholemeal flour. Mix the wet and dry together very gently, then add 3/4 cup sultanas and fold through very gently, taking care not to overmix (this is a cookbook way of saying 'stop as soon as it looks like the sultanas are kinda mixed through!') You can serve these ones warm with butter, if you want to.
Fresh apricots, like fresh strawberries, suck when baked in muffins. Instead, take a cup of dried apricots, dice them, pour just enough boiling water over them to just barely cover
them, and soak for 15 minutes. You can also use apricot jam swirled through the muffin mix if you like - don't forget to use muffin papers when messing about with jam, otherwise the
jam will stick to the muffin tray.
- Apricot and bran
Prepare the apricots as above, but sprinkle 1/4 tsp baking soda over them before you add the boiling water; reduce the flour by 1/4 cup and add 1/2 cup of bran to the dry mix. Replace 1/2 or all of the milk with plain yoghurt or buttermilk. Yoghurt or buttermilk make a moister muffin than plain milk.
- Beetroot chocolate
Grate 2 raw beetroots, or mash some that you cooked at home. Do not for the love of everything you hold dear use canned beetroot! Ewwwwwwww! Add the beets to the wet mix, and 2 or 3 tbsp
of cocoa to the dry mix. Stir in some dark chocolate chips. These muffins do taste a tiny bit earthy and they are also dark reddish-purple. If you want to emphasise the similarity to a
red velvet cake, blend a little icing sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice with cream cheese and pipe/dollop onto the cooked and cooled muffins.
Add an extra 1/4 cup self raising flour to the dry mix, and replace 1/2 cup milk with 3/4 cup of yoghurt or 1/2 cup buttermilk. Thoroughly drain a can of blueberries and stir them through
at the end, very gently, so you don't squish them. If you prefer, you can reserve 1/4 can of blueberries and press them carefully into the tops of the uncooked muffins, to ensure each
muffin looks nicely berryish.
- Banana choc chip
Mash 1-3 overripe bananas and add to the wet mix. Stir 1 cup of chocolate chips in with the dry mix. The wetness of this mix will vary with the amount of banana. That's fine.
- Banana and coconut
Mash 1-3 overripe bananas and add to the wet mix, along with 1 spoonful of honey. Add 1/2 cup of dessicated coconut to the dry mix.
- Blackberry and rosemary
When you have too many blackberries, and they get a bit squishy in the bucket, make muffins. Use 1 cup of fresh or defrosted and slightly squishy blackberries in the wet mix, with a squeeze of lemon juice. Use a pestle and mortar to grind 1 stick or 1 spoonful of rosemary with the sugar before adding it to the dry mix.
- Carrot and apple
Grate 1 small carrot and 1 small apple and add to the wet mix. If you like, you can add 1/4 cup chopped walnuts. You can also top the cooked muffins with cream cheese (blended with a little lemon juice and icing sugar) for the full late nineties carrot cake experience.
- Cherry and almond
Fresh cherries, like fresh strawberries, suck in muffins. Plus, stones. Make a plain muffin mix, and stir through 1/2 cup chopped glace cherries and 1/2 cup slivered almonds, very gently. Reserve 6 glace cherries or 12 halves and press one half cherry lightly into the top of each uncooked muffin. If it's Christmas, use red and green muffin papers, add a few drops of brandy essence to the muffin mix, and drizzle the tops of the cooked muffins very lightly with glace icing (mix icing sugar with a few drops boiling water and a few drops lemon juice, so that it drizzles off your spoon.)
- Cherry and coconut
Add 1/4 cup dessicated coconut to the dry mix. Replace 1/2 the milk with coconut milk or cream. Carefully stir 1 can drained cherries through the mix.
Add 2-3 tablespoons (40-60mL) of cocoa to the dry mix.
- Chocolate Chip
Not chocolatey enough? As above, and add 1 cup of chocolate chips.
- Mega Chocolate Chip
Not chocolatey enough? As above, and put 1/2 cup chocolate, any kind, in the food processor or blender and whizz into powder, stir through the dry mix.
- Mega Choc Top
Not chocolatey enough? As above, and top with ganache made from 1 cup chocolate melted with 1/4 cup butter/oil.
- Choc Milo
Add 2-3 tablespoons (40-60mL) of cocoa and 1/4 cup Milo to the dry mix. In a separate bowl put 3 tbsp (60mL) plain flour, 3 tbsp Milo, 3 tbsp raw sugar and 3 tbsp butter or margarine.
Use your fingers to rub the ingredients together. You should end up with a weird chunky crumbly mix. It looks gross but tastes epic. Sprinkle this over the tops of your uncooked muffins.
So many parts of a muffin recipe can be substituted with coconut. Use coconut milk instead of regular milk. Add shredded or desecrated coconut to the flour, which will make the mix a little dryer (you may want to add more liquid). Use coconut cream instead of milk but make sure you halve the amount of sugar and oil/fat/butter!
- Coconut rough
Add 1/2 cup dessicated or shredded coconut and 3 tbsp (60mL) cocoa to the dry mix. Add 1/4 cup of yoghurt or buttermilk to the wet mix. Mix 1 cup icing sugar and 3 tbsp (60mL cocoa). In a separate bowl mix 1 heaped tsp butter with 1 tsp (5mL) milk and 1 tbsp (20mL) boiling water, stir to melt the butter. Pour this into the icing sugar to make a smooth and fairly runny icing. Pour this over the cooked muffins, and dip each one in dessicated coconut.
You would think that nicely brewed espresso would make great cakes, but no. The way to make coffee flavoured cakes and muffins is to use instant coffee. Measure out a few spoonfuls (depending on how strong you like your coffee) and dissolve in a small amount of boiling water. Add this to the wet mix. Feel free to add cocoa, nuts, chocolate chips or brandy.
- Date and honey
Chop 1 cup dates into small pieces. Add 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/4 cup honey and pour over just enough boiling water to cover. Soak for 15 minutes.
Leave out the sugar, and replace the milk with 1/2 cup buttermilk or yoghurt. If you like, add a bit of nutmeg.
Make plain muffins in patty pans (or mini muffin pans) without muffin papers. In a separate bowl mix 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. As soon as the muffins come out of the oven, remove them from the muffin tins and pop them into a large Tupperware along with the cinnamon sugar. Seal the lid tightly, and gently tip the container upside down and roll it around a few times to thoroughly coat the muffins. Leave the lid sealed for 5 minutes to trap the moisture as the muffins cool, as this will help the sugar stick and give you a real doughnutty experience.
- Fig and anise
Place 1 cup of milk in the microwave or over a very low heat on the stove and add 2 or 3 star anise. Heat until it smells nice, but do not boil. Allow the milk to cool and fish out the star anise. Use the milk to make plain muffin mix (I suggest wholemeal flour for this one). Gently stir fig jam through the muffin mix, so that it's nicely marbled. Make sure you use muffin papers so the jam doesn't stick to the trays.
- Fruit mince muffin
Add your leftover fruit mince to a plain muffin mix along with 1/2 cup grated apple and 1/2 tsp cinnamon or mixed spice. Do not replace the milk with brandy, that's a waste. Just drink the brandy.
- Fruit salad (yummy yummy)
Add 1 cup canned, drained fruit salad to a plain muffin mix for the very easiest muffin ever. The ones with banana and crushed pineapple work best.
- Ginger (ground)
Replace the sugar with brown sugar, and add 1 tsp (5mL) ground ginger to the mix. Lower the oven temperature by 10oC to slow down the cooking time (this will reduce the cracking on top as the muffin rises). Once cooled, have the nearest children use royal icing and lollies to decorate each muffin with a gingerbready face.
- Ginger (crystallised) and lemon
Finely chop 1/4 cup of crystallised ginger and add to the wet mix with the zest of 1 lemon. Reduce the milk to 1/2 cup, and add 1/2 cup plain yoghurt and the juice of the lemon you just zested. Decorate the tops with long strips of lemon zest and extra pieces of ginger, if you like.
Substitute 1/2 cup of milk for 1/2 cup of orange juice. If you're using fresh oranges, grate a bit of zest in. sift some cocoa into the flour. Go on, throw in some dark chocolate chips as well. If you are hosting a fancy breakfast or brunch, serve these slightly warm (from the oven or zapped in the microwave) with whipped cream and your very best coffee.
Add a few spoonfuls of your malt powder to the dry mix.
- Malt Chocolate
As above, and add add cocoa
- Malt Peanut
Make as for Malt muffins above, and replace the butter/oil with peanut butter.
Take 2 bags of Malteasers. Reserve 12 malteasers out of one bag. Close the bag back up (or tip the rest into a zip lock bag) and use a rolling pin/your fist/an enthusiastic preschooler to crush the Malteasers. Somewhere between depressed and thoroughly oppressed should do it. Add the crushed Malteasers to a plain, chocolate or malt muffin mix. Top each muffin with one of the reserved Malteasers. You may eat the second bag of Malteasers while the muffins are baking.
- Orange cardamon
Add the zest of an orange, 1 tsp (5mL) of ground cardamon, 1/4 cup almonds to the dry mix. Use brown sugar and half wholemeal, half regular self raising flour. Add the juice of the orange to the wet mix.
- Orange poppyseed
Replace 1/2 cup of milk with orange juice. If you are using fresh oranges, add some zest. Stir a couple of teaspoons of poppy seeds into the dry mix. How many teaspoons? Well, stir it into the flour and have a look. Does it look nicely dotty? If not, add more seeds. Use any citrus fruit you please for this one, they all work.
Whole nuts, or even large chunks of nuts, are disconcerting in a muffin. Plus they tend to sink to the bottom. To make a nutty muffin, put the nuts in a blender or food processor to grind them into either small chunks or into fine meal. You can also replace the butter or oil with peanut butter. Nut flavours usually work best when combined with something else, like spices or fruit.
- Pear and almond
Add 1/4 cup almond meal to the dry mix and 1 stewed or grated pear to the wet mix. Use slivered, flaked or whole almonds to decorate the tops of the uncooked muffins.
- Polenta and corn
Replace 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of polenta and 1 tsp baking powder. Add 1 small can or 1/2 cup creamed corn to the wet mix. Halve the sugar.
- Raspberry white choc
Add 1 cup of frozen, fresh or canned (drained) raspberries to the wet mix. Add 1/2 - 1 cup white chocolate chips to the dry mix. Do not be tempted to use the liquid from canned fruit in your muffin unless you also significantly reduce the sugar in the recipe.
- Rose and white choc
Add a couple of drops of rosewater and 1/4 tsp vanilla essence to the wet mix along with 1 cup of white choc bits. Melt 1 cup white chocolate with 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup sugar to make ganache. When the ganache is cool enough to spread, thickly cover the top of each muffin and decorate with a fresh or dry rose petal.
- Sherbert (the tingly powder, not the sorbet)
I'm still working on it. It didn't suck completely, but it isn't ready for eating yet.
- Smartie Pants
Add an extra spoonful of sugar and 1 cup of Smarties right at the end and mix very delicately - you don't want the Smarties to get wet enough that the colour runs. Top uncooked muffins with any leftover Smarties. It's a good idea to use muffin papers for these ones, as the crispy shells sort of melt into the muffin creating a halo of brightly coloured candy-muffin around each chocolate blob. These are amazing for kid's parties. And adult's parties!
Fresh strawberries in muffins kinda suck. They lose their flavour and their textural integrity when baked. Take a cup of strawberries, fresh or frozen, and pop them in the blender with 1/2 cup yoghurt, 1 tbsp strawberry jam and 1/4 cup milk. Use this smoothie as your liquid in a plain muffin mix. If you are feeling fancy, put a few more spoonfuls of jam in the microwave for say 20 seconds to melt it, drop a small amount on top of each uncooked muffin, and use a skewer to swirl the jam into the top of the muffin mix. Unswirled jam will sink to the bottom of the muffin and stick to the pan, so it's a high risk move - best to do it when you are using muffin papers.
- Wednesday muffin (it's pink)
Lightly blend 1 cup fresh, frozen or canned raspberries and and a few drops of grenadine. Replace the milk with 1/2 cup of yoghurt and reduce the sugar by half as well. If you want a swirly marble effect, add the raspberry mix separately to the other liquids and stir gently. If you want completely pink muffins, add the raspberry mix to the wet mix and stir well to combine before adding to the dry mix. You can also add a drop of rosewater to make it really fetch.
- White chocolate and pistachio
Use your blender or food processor to process 3/4 cup white choc chips and 3/4 cup pistachios into 'coarse crumb' sized pieces and add to the dry mix.
- Zucchini and chocolate
Add 1 small to medium grated zucchini to the wet mix along with a little extra sugar. Add 3 tbsp (60mL) cocoa to the dry mix. Replace the milk with buttermilk.
- and don't forget
Chocomarmalaska, a fabulous muffin-centric variation on a baked alaska.
A reQuested writeup