Baking muffins at the correct temperature is a delicate balancing act. If the oven isn't hot enough, the muffins won't rise properly and will have low, flat tops. If the oven's too hot they'll produce sharp peaks rather than a properly rounded dome, and might still be doughy in the middle. Jumbo muffins can be even more problematic because they take longer to bake completely. They still require a high temperature, but not as high as smaller muffins.
Muffins are one of the simplest types of baked goods to prepare. Usually they're made by mixing the wet and dry ingredients separately, then combining them quickly until just mixed. When they're baked at the correct temperature, the batter's outside edges will set quickly in the oven's heat. Then, as the baking powder or baking soda does its work, the batter in the middle will rise vigorously to produce a high, domed center. During the final stage of baking, the continued heat cooks the batter through to the middle. This forms a firm but soft crumb, which retains the muffin's height as it cools.
The Temperature Problem
Many recipes call for baking the muffins at 350 to 375 F. That's a good temperature for most cakes and quickbreads, but muffins will seldom rise as they should at that low a temperature. Most will rise more effectively at 400 to 425 F, doming vigorously in the middle. Dark baking pans absorb more heat, so the lower temperature should be used for those. When you're baking jumbo muffins you have correspondingly more batter to heat and set, and the laws of physics dictate that you'll have to bake them for longer.
For jumbo muffins, the best solution is to change temperatures during your baking time. They'll need the same high temperature as any other muffin to quickly set the sides, which provides the necessary structure to support the muffins' rise and expansion. Start your jumbo muffins at 425 F -- or 400 F, if you have dark metal pans -- for 15 to 18 minutes, until they're well risen and somewhat browned. Then reduce the oven temperature to 375 F, and continue baking for another eight to 10 minutes or until a tester inserted into the thickest part of the muffin comes out clean.
The initial burst of heat from the preheated oven is important to the rise of your muffins, but just opening the door to slide them in will take away some heat. To compensate for that, preheat your oven to a higher temperature. For example, if you're starting your muffins at 425 F, preheat the oven to 450 F instead. Then reduce the heat to your intended temperature once they're in. Jumbo muffins work best with relatively thick, dry batters rather than thin and wet ones. Stiffer batters have less moisture content to heat, and will bake better in the larger cups.
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