Salvaging Over-Baked Muffins


Muffins seem like a simple breakfast bread, but they need a careful hand and a watchful eye. They bake best in a hot oven -- around 400 degrees Fahrenheit -- so they rise quickly, but the line between perfectly done and baked to a crisp is thin. Overbaked muffins are dry and crumbly, with hard, mealy tops. Don't despair, though. A quick coverup is probably all they need to restore them.

Let Them Be

  • If you got distracted and the muffins got a bit burned, no worries. Let them cool for 15 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack. While the muffins are still slightly warm, pack them in zip-top plastic bags and seal them. Let them cool for an hour or two or overnight. The warm, moist air in the bags will slightly steam the muffins, relieving dryness. Unless they're burned to a crisp, when you open the bag, voila! The muffins are moist and tender.

The Brush Off

  • Banish dry, crumbly muffins with a quick brush of milk, half-and-half or cream. The fat and moisture in dairy products soak into the muffin tops to tenderize them and add flavor and richness. Don't go crazy, though, or you'll end up with soggy muffins. Just a bit will do.

Gloss Over Them

  • For a really tasty solution, glaze the muffins with a simple frosting. Combine milk and powdered sugar in a bowl to make a thin, pourable glaze. Drizzle the glaze on top of the muffins as they're cooling to moisten them and hide any imperfections. While you're at it, add a few flavorings for some extra pizazz: Add lemon juice to a glaze for poppy seed, blueberry or raspberry muffins, or whisk brown sugar into the glaze to give it a caramel flavor and use the glaze to top apple or pumpkin muffins.

Repurpose Burned Muffins

  • If the muffins are beyond repair, it may be time to find another use for them. Cut off any burned edges and break the muffins into 1-inch pieces. Toast the pieces in the oven briefly to dry them out and use the pieces as the basis for a delicious bread pudding or French toast casserole: Whip up a sweet custard from eggs, sugar and milk or cream, pour the custard over the dried muffin bits and bake for a quick and delicious breakfast treat.

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