A tender, moist muffin depends on proper mixing and baking. Whether you prefer sweet muffins, savory muffins or muffins loaded with fruit and other additions, dry and crumbly muffins aren't appetizing. Although muffin recipes can vary greatly, they all depend on a few key ingredients and baking techniques to achieve their best texture.
The type of fat you use can affect the moisture in muffin. The lightest, most cakelike muffins require a solid fat, such as butter or shortening. Solid fats coat the flour and dry ingredient particles completely, resulting in a less crumbly texture. Liquid fats, like vegetable, canola or olive oil, tend to clump several flour particles together, which results in a more crumbly texture. Melted butter or solid shortening results in the same issue, but using cold, solid fats helps avoid the problem. Too little fat can also cause a dry muffin, as can low-fat shortening products that contain more water than fat.
Too much flour or dry ingredients in relation to the fats and other liquids in the recipe makes the muffins dense, dry and crumbly. When doubling or tripling a muffin recipe, ensure the fat and liquid-to-dry ingredient ratio remains the same. Scoop flour and other dry ingredients into the measuring cup with a spoon and level it off without packing, otherwise you may inadvertently add too much flour. Liquid measuring cups that have a spout, are not suitable for measuring out dry ingredients.
Mix It Up
Creaming the fat and sugar together properly results in lighter muffins. Beat the cold fat and sugars together for about five minutes, or until the resulting mixture is light, fluffy and filled with air bubbles. After creaming, add eggs one at a time, folding them into the mixture so you don't lose the air bubbles. Mixing the dry ingredients together before adding them to fats ensures the leavening, whether it's baking powder or baking soda, is incorporated evenly into the entire muffin batter. Stir in the flour until its just mixed in. Too much stirring can cause gluten to form, which makes the muffins dense and tough.
Turn Up the Heat
Baking at a temperature that's too low causes muffins to rise poorly, making them more dense and crumbly. They also require longer cooking at a low temperature, which dries them out. Most muffins form full tops and develop a soft texture when baked in a preheated 425-degree Fahrenheit oven. The high temperature causes the top to rise quickly while the inside continues to bake more slowly. If burning is an issue, lower the oven temperature to 350 F for the last 10 minutes of baking.
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