Basic Muffins (with berry and oatmeal versions)

This recipe is a taking-off point; use it to create your own favorite muffins by adding fruits and flavorings, nuts and vegetables, or substituting various grains. Muffins, being so easy and quick to make, are wonderful for experimenting. For instant gratification, of both the taste buds and the creative spirit, nothing beats a muffin!

Prep
10 mins
Bake
15 to 20 mins
Total
30 mins
Yield
24 mini or 12 standard
Basic Muffins (with berry and oatmeal versions)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F. Lightly grease the cups of a standard 12-cup muffin pan. Or line the cups with papers, and grease the papers.

  2. Blend together the dry ingredients.

  3. Beat the liquid ingredients together — milk, oil or butter, eggs, and vanilla — until light.

  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Take a fork or wire whisk and blend the two briefly — about 20 seconds should do it. The secret to light and tender muffins lies in blending together the liquid and dry ingredients gently. It's OK to leave some lumps that look as if they want more stirring; they really don't. So, no matter how hard it is, resist the impulse.

  5. Fill the cups of the muffin pan two-thirds to three-quarters full. Sprinkle with sparkling white sugar, if desired.

  6. Bake the muffins for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, and as soon as you can handle them turn them out of the pan onto a rack to cool.

Tips from our Bakers

  • If you leave the oil out, you can reduce the calories in your muffins by about 30%; the flavor will still be excellent, but muffins won't be quite as tender, and won't keep as well should you happen to have any left over.
  • To make oatmeal muffins: If you like the old-fashioned taste of oats, you'll love this easy variation. Instead of using 2 cups of flour, use 1 cup rolled oats and 1 1/4 cups flour. If you like a heartier muffin, substitute brown sugar for granulated. These muffins don't rise as high as the basic muffins, but they certainly taste wonderful!
  • To make berry or fruit muffins: Add 1 1/2 cups of berries to the recipe (or finely chopped, well-drained fresh fruit: peaches, apples, etc.; or chopped dried fruit; or Jammy Bits, sweet, soft little morsels of fruit purée). To make sure berries or fruit stay evenly distributed throughout the batter, add to the dry ingredients and mix until coated before adding the liquid ingredients. This prevents them from sinking once the liquids are blended in.
  • From amaranth to teff and more, ancient grains offer a world of baking possibilities. Want to learn how to incorporate these special grains into some of your favorite recipes for muffins, scones, pancakes, and bread? See our Baking With Ancient Grains Guide.