One Million Muffins

Or, How To Make Three Kinds Of Muffins Without Doing Every Step Three Times Because Oh My God Who The Fuck Has Time

The universe likes to kick people. I like to kick the universe. The cycle goes merrily around, with lots of chest thumping and yelling about don’t tell me what to do and what do you mean that’s illegal and JUST WATCH ME.

When the cosmic pain machine turns on one of my friends, though, I turn off the yelling and turn on the oven. I can’t stop life from kicking anybody, but I can hand out baked goods (+5 to emotional resilience). This past week saw not just one, not just two, but three friends become cosmic soccer balls. And that calls for One Million Muffins. They taste like cake, they can pretend to be real food, and they make handy projectiles in case of emergency.

I’m not making any bold new moves in the recipe department here, but that’s not the point. The point is making three kinds of muffins at once without losing my goddamn mind. The basic technique here will work with any muffin recipe that has a “mix wet ingredients, sift in dry ingredients, fold in flavorings” structure. Feel free to substitute your own recipe.

I made blueberry, apple, and chocolate chip muffins, but this will work for any number of fillings. The base recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen’s Perfect Blueberry Muffins.

Makes 24 muffins (equivalent to One Million, statistically speaking): twelve blueberry, six apple, and six chocolate chip.

Base Recipe

10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cup plain yogurt
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Toppings:

1 cup blueberries
1 tsp lemon zest
1 apple, diced
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
Handful of chocolate chips (I don’t believe that anyone in the actual world measures chocolate chips. Any measurement I gave would be ignored anyway in favor of the impulse to add just a few more. Go forward and accomplish you dreams.)

Equipment

Hand mixer or stand mixer
A number of mixing bowls equal to the number of fillings you’re using—in my case, 3
Large stiff spatula/spoon
Measuring implements
Sifter
Muffin tin + muffin cups

Get your fillings prepped. Little blue mise-en-place bowls are totally optional, but they make me feel like an adult.

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Start with your largest mixing bowl. Drop the soft butter and both kinds of sugar into the bowl and cream until fluffy. Add your eggs and yogurt. Mix until everything is combined and everything looks disgusting.

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Here is the first place where my muffins part ways. The blueberry muffins needed lemon zest; the other two did not. Half of this batter is destined to contain blueberries. So split the batter down the middle as best you can and dump one of those halves out into a different bowl.

Blueberry Bowl: add in the lemon zest and mix well. Then measure out 1 ½ cups of flour, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp baking soda, and ¼ tsp salt. Drop all that into your sifter. Sift about half of that over the batter. Someone recently told me to love myself and get a real flour sifter instead of the sifter-strainer nonsense that I used to use. I don’t need a lot of pushing to spend five dollars at Home Goods. Thanks to that hand sifter, I hate my life way less than I usually do after this step.

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Mix the flour in. Gently. Like you’re trying to tuck a baby bunny in at night. If you manhandle the flour or overmix, the gluten will get extra sticky, your muffins will get tough, and then they’ll make better projectiles than baked goods. Think baby bunnies, not catapult stones. Sift the rest of those dry ingredients over top. Mix those in until everything is just combined.

Then dump your blueberries on top, fold them in, and distribute the batter into the muffin tin. Throw that in the oven until a fork comes out clean. The original recipe says 25-30 minutes; my muffins took about 20 minutes, because the inside of my oven is trying to compete with Lucifer. Your results may vary.

That Other Bowl: the apple and chocolate chip muffins stay together for the next step. Put the rest of the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the sifter. Sift half over the liquid ingredients, mix gently, sift in the remainder, and mix until combined. Now, split this dough in half and push one half into a separate bowl. Fold your apples into one bowl, and your chocolate chips into the other.

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Scoop out into muffin tins. For the apple muffins, combine the extra sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle that on top of the muffins. It’ll melt and make a crunchy topping. Pop in the oven until a tester comes out clean.

Whatever your muffin recipe is, this basic technique will stand. Just split the dough in halves or thirds at whatever step the muffin recipes diverge. That way, you don’t have to cream butter over and over again or wash bowls in between uses. And if you fuck up, you’ll always have something to throw at your enemies.

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YOU’RE WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING AND I HOPE THE BLUEBERRY STAINS NEVER COME OUT

The Mess Report:

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