It’s county fair week here, and my brain is on 4-H. If you’ve ever been in 4-H, you probably remember the motto, “To Make the Best Better.” You know that in reality, the motto could be, “To Over-do Things Ridiculously in the Quest for a Champion Ribbon.”
This year, one of my girls made muffins for the fair. Prior to that, we went to a muffins workshop. Yes, my friends, an entire evening devoted to nothing more than the study of how to make the perfect muffin.
Although I’m pretty far from a Martha Stewart wannabe, I have to say I enjoyed the evening. Here are some things I learned:
- Most people add too much flour when baking. Do you scoop out flour with the measuring cup? Don’t! First, “cut” through the flour in the cannister with a knife or spoon, and then spoon the flour lightly into the measuring cup. She spooned some in lightly this way, and then tapped in, pushed it in, etc. to show us how much more flour we would actually add if we measured it this way.
- When you’re ready to add the wet ingredients to the dry, form a “well” in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet in, gently “folding” to wet all the dry stuff. There will be some flour remaining slightly unmixed.
- Do not overmix muffin dough. Mixing the dough causes gluten to form, and gluten tends to create large, unattractive (at least to judges) air tunnels.
- If you’re making muffins with pumpkin, banana, or other fruits, they’ll be better the next day because the moisture from the fruit will “spread” out to the muffin.
- Only grease the bottoms of muffin tins (not the sides). If the sides are greased, the dough attempting to climb the sides will keep slipping back down.
- Don’t overfill muffin tins – perfect muffins should not have muffin tops (although honestly that’s the part we all want to eat).