One of my favourite baked goods are muffins. To me, there is nothing better than a fresh-baked muffin coming straight out of the oven for a delicious treat.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned when baking and you're left with something that resembles more of a rock, a puck, a chunk of charcoal or even a deflated dry muffin.
That's what I call the dreaded “Muffins of Disappointment”.
There’s nothing more frustrating than having some delicious, heavenly fluffy muffins planned for a treat turning into a complete disappointment.
I put together a list of some common reasons why we sometimes end up with these sad and disappointing muffins and how to prevent these issues.
While I'm not an absolute expert in baking, I have learned a few things over time through trial and error, and through experience and wanted to share what I've learned with you. 🙂
There are a few things that you should keep in mind when baking muffins so that they will turn out perfect every time with little to no effort.
Some of these tips will also apply when making any type of baked good.
How to Bake Muffins – 7 Tips to Prevent the Dreaded “Muffins of Disappointment”
1. Know the true internal temperature of your oven
Sometimes an oven's temperature can run hotter or even cooler than what the dial indicates, which is often the case with an older appliance.
Knowing the actual internal temperature of your oven is important in making sure that your muffins turn out exactly how you want them. If you haven’t already, I would suggest picking up an inexpensive ovenproof thermometer to test the internal temperature of your oven. Set your oven to 350°F and place the thermometer inside. Once your oven says that it is preheated to the desired temperature, compare this to what it says on the thermometer. If you notice a big difference, don’t stress – this does not mean you have to purchase a new oven! Just go by the temperature readings of what your thermometer says from now on rather than what’s on the dial.
2. Make certain you are using the proper measurements
They say that baking is a science and sometimes I think whoever “they” are, are right. lol
I’ve been guilty of not accurately measuring the dry ingredients in a recipe simply because I’ve been in a hurry, and it really makes a difference to the quality of the end result.
It’s important that when you’re measuring your dry ingredients, you use the proper measuring cups and level off what you’re measuring using a flat tool such as a knife or spatula. Also, make sure that you measure the wet ingredients using cups with a lip. It's best to use a clear measuring cup so you can make sure the amounts are exactly where they need to be.
Professional bakers will often weigh their ingredients rather than measure by the cup – usually when using ingredients like cake flour, etc. While this isn't absolutely necessary, it's something to keep in mind and maybe experiment with. 🙂
3. Don’t over stir the batter
When you’re making muffins, you never need to stir the batter for more than a couple seconds.
Seriously, just stir as long as it takes for the dry ingredients to just start to dissolve into the wet ingredients and no more. If you’re too vigorous when stirring the batter, you’ll end up a dense puck for a muffin.
4. Pay close attention to your baking time
When following the instructions for any muffin recipe, it’s important to note that the temperature mentioned is what works for the recipe writer's individual oven. Do they know the actual internal temperature to their oven? I would hope so, but sometimes that's not the case.
Whenever I try a new recipe, I usually just take the baking times as a suggestion or guideline. Keep a close eye on your muffins and if they look like they’re starting to brown up or are close to finishing, take them out of the oven and do the toothpick test. If the toothpick comes out clean after sticking it into a muffin they're ready. 🙂
5. Use fresh ingredients
If the recipe calls for baking soda or baking powder, please make sure that it’s relatively fresh and not expired.
The older the baking soda or baking powder, the more likely that it has lost its effectiveness. Baking soda or baking powder that has lost its effectiveness will make any recipe deflate and sink in the middle.
6. If you live in a higher altitude, the recipe might need a little added moisture
This one might not apply to you depending on where you live, but it's worth mentioning.
In some locations with higher altitudes, it’s important to add a little more moisture to the recipe. This is because in higher altitudes, moisture evaporates quicker.
If you live in a high altitude location and you find your baked goods come out dry when they finish baking, try adding a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil or even applesauce to the recipe the next time.
7. How do I get that dome on the top of the muffin like the pros do?
There’s nothing better than a nice puffed up muffin top!
To make a dome form on the top of the muffins, it's usually suggested to bake them at a higher temperature at the beginning of the baking process. Once the dome has formed on top, the oven temperature is reduced and baking continues for between 10 to 20 minutes longer depending on the recipe and ingredients used.
It’s important that you don’t remove the muffins from the oven when you reduce the temperature. Leave the muffins in the oven as the temperature reduces and keep an eye on them. Check on them 5 to 10 minutes before the end of the baking time and do the toothpick test. If the toothpick comes out clean after poking the center of a muffin, they are ready. 🙂
Check out my recipe for the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Muffins to see specific instructions for creating an awesome muffin top! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this post and that it helps you to prevent the dreaded “Muffins of Disappointment”!