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Muffin Magic

An all-purpose muffin recipe teaches kids how to make (and customize) their own quick breads.

Chocolate-Muffins

You’ve probably heard the saying, “The best gifts come from the heart, not the store.” We couldn’t agree more. Our December Kitchen Academy kit, “The Gift of Food,” is full of ideas for delicious, edible gifts kids can make all by themselves, from granola and chocolate-dipped pretzels to flavored sugars and salts.

But first, your Little Sous will start by learning how to make muffins using an all-purpose recipe that can be customized with his or her favorite mix-ins, from blueberries to chocolate chips.

Here are a few teachable tips from this lesson:

Rise and shine!
Muffins are a type of “quick bread,” which is any bread made with a “leavener,” such as baking powder or baking soda, that can be mixed and baked right away. This means you can make a pan of muffins first thing in the morning and eat them for breakfast, or bake them the day before and have them waiting for you when you wake up!

Microwave melting
It’s easy to melt butter in the microwave, but it can also be messy if you heat it for too long. Because microwaves heat the butter from the inside out, large chunks of butter can splatter when the water inside (yes, butter contains lots of water!) gets hot. It’s better to cut the butter into smaller pieces, which helps them melt more quickly and evenly. If you stop microwaving the butter just before all of the pieces have melted, you can stir it with a spoon until everything has melted.

Sili-what?
Included in the “Gift of Food” box is a set of colorful muffin liners. They’re made from silicone, which is a flexible, oven-safe material used in many cooking tools. Although they seem nonstick, you should always spray silicone muffin liners with nonstick cooking spray before using them.

Why do muffins rise?
As muffins bake, you can watch the batter rise up above the rim of the pan, forming a dome shape on top. Why does this happen? It’s because of a chemical reaction that occurs by mixing a “leavener” (like baking soda or baking powder) with the milk and eggs in the batter. During baking, this reaction creates tiny carbon dioxide bubbles, which get trapped in the proteins and starches found in the eggs and flour, and makes the batter expand, creating a tender, fluffy muffin.

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All-Purpose Muffins

The best thing about this all-purpose muffin recipe is that there are many ways to customize it with your favorite flavors—we’ve included a bunch of ideas at the end of the recipe to get you started.

muffins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

For the muffins:
  • 1 ½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Mix-in options:
  • 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries, plus 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 ½ cups chopped strawberries
  • 1 cup chopped apples, plus ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped banana, plus ½ cup chopped walnuts

Steps:

  1. Step 1

    Cut the butter into small pieces (about 1 tablespoon each), and place them in a large glass measuring cup with a spout. Microwave the butter at 50% power for 15 seconds at a time until most of it has melted and a few small pieces of butter remain. Stir the butter until the rest has melted.

  2. Step 2

    Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with silicone or paper muffin liners. Spray the liners with nonstick cooking spray.

  3. Step 3

    In a medium mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.

  4. Step 4

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Whisk until combined. Using your (clean!) hand, make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the well. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the ingredients just until all of the flour has been moistened (it’s better to undermix than overmix the batter, so it’s OK if a few lumps remain).

  5. Step 5

    Stir in the optional mix-ins, if using.

  6. Step 6

    Spoon the batter into the muffin liners, filling each about two-thirds full. Ask an adult to bake the muffins for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the pan until room temperature, then remove the muffins from the liners and eat, or store in a container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

  7. Step 7

    Now that you’ve mastered a basic muffin recipe, it’s time to play! Here are even more ideas for how to fancy-up your muffins with mix-ins and toppings.

    Jammy muffins: When filling the muffin liners with batter, fill them halfway, then add 1 teaspoon of your favorite jam or preserves in the middle. Add the rest of the batter, making sure to cover the jam completely.

    Lemon-poppy seed muffins: Add 1 tablespoon of finely grated lemon zest to the milk and egg mixture, and stir in 2 tablespoons poppy seeds when combining the wet and dry ingredients.

    Whole-wheat muffins: Replace the 2 cups all-purpose flour with ¾ cup whole-wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour.

    Funfetti muffins: Fold ½ cup rainbow sprinkles into the batter in Step 5.

    Pineapple coconut muffins: Add 1 cup drained, canned pineapple chunks to the wet ingredients and ½ cup coconut flakes to the dry ingredients before combining.

    Corn muffins: Replace the 2 cups of all-purpose flour with ¾ cup yellow cornmeal and 1 cup all-purpose flour.