A small cup shaped bread we call a muffin began to appear in the eighteenth century. These delectable baked items were normally served hot and with tea. By the nineteenth century muffins were becoming more common and were being sold in England by street vendors. Muffins ultimately branched into two common types, the English muffin and the American muffin. Originally, muffins were leavened by adding potash to the batters/dough which produced carbon dioxide causing the batters to lift. It wasn’t until about 1860 when potash gave way to baking powders.
American muffins are more of a quick bread than a dough and require baking forms to hold the batters while cooking. The English muffin is more of a dough and are pan fried to create the flat golden brown appearance we all love today. American muffins come in many varieties and some states have even adopted specific muffins as their state muffins. New York’s state muffin is apple while Minnesota’s is blueberry and Massachusetts is corn. Perhaps Utah’s state muffin should be zucchini.
While making my favorite banana muffins this past week, I discovered a trick. This simple baking trick created the most amazing banana muffins I’ve made. As with most baked goods, creaming together the fat and sugars is crucial. Without the proper creaming time, baked goods can flatten in the oven and not emulsify correctly. With this in mind, I decided to treat the banana’s like the butter in my recipe. My ripe bananas and sugar went into the mixer and creamed together for three minutes. Once the bananas and sugar had been creamed together, I added the butter and creamed the butter with the banana mixture for another three minutes. The additional care taken to cream the bananas together with the sugar was a winning discovery. However, the order of addition for the remaining ingredients is just as important.
Once the banana’s, sugar, and butter have been creamed together add the eggs one at a time. Allow each egg to completely blend before adding additional eggs. The thorough blending of the egg is crucial. The eggs act as the emulsifier for the batter, allowing the fats and waters to suspend. When the eggs are blended add any remaining wet ingredients and make sure everything is well incorporated.
When preparing the dry ingredients for a recipe take special attention to the way you measure flour. Gravity causes flour to compact together and may give you an inaccurate measurement. To ensure you measure flour correctly, fluff it up. I like to stick the handle of a wooden spoon into the flour bag and give it a quick stir. Once the flour has been fluffed, simply measure as needed for the recipe. This simple flour technique ensures a more accurate measurement. Measure all of your dry ingredients into a large bowl and whisk them together. Whisking all of the dry ingredients together evenly distributes them and allows for even mixing when added to the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients in batches to ensure proper incorporation. The most common mistake when make muffins is over-mixing, so simply mix until your dry ingredients are blended.
Muffins are both fun to make and delicious. They freeze great and are perfect any time of the day. Be sure to cream the fats and sugars well, add the eggs one at a time, whisk the dry ingredients together, add dry ingredients in batches, and don’t over-mix the batter. For a complete recipe of my banana walnut muffins, simply search it out on my website.