Food & Drink

Muffins offer a portable, customizable breakfast

Everybody eats: Savory and sweet options are crowd-pleasers

Cliff Jette photos/The Gazette

A basket of Morning Glory Muffins and Brandied Peach Muffins. Muffins are perfect for breakfast on the go.
Cliff Jette photos/The Gazette A basket of Morning Glory Muffins and Brandied Peach Muffins. Muffins are perfect for breakfast on the go.
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I love breakfast, but I’m rarely hungry when I first wake up to eat it. All I want when I wake up is a cup of coffee to get the blood pumping and I’m good — until midmorning.

Luckily, my job allows me to enjoy breakfast while at my desk. Sometimes I bring a storage bowl of cereal or yogurt with granola. Instant oatmeal packets also work in a pinch.

Every now and then I allow myself to buy a bagel and cream cheese on my way to work, but I have to justify the expense. (A few dollars every day adds up quickly.)

While I certainly have options when it comes to weekday morning breakfast foods, my favorite would have to be muffins. Muffins are the perfect on-the-go breakfast item.

Not only are they portable, there are hundreds of recipes. From savory to sweet, a person could realistically make a new muffin recipe every year for — well, a lot of years.

What a delicious challenge.

It’s not just me who loves the magic of muffins. There’s something about a pan of muffins fresh from the oven that makes everyone at my house smile. Easy and delicious, muffins are the ultimate crowd-pleaser. And while I tend to make them for breakfast, muffins also work as a surprise treat in a sack lunch or afternoon snack.

Another plus in the muffin column is its diversity. I tend to shy away from nuts in most recipes — I have strong feelings about nuts in brownies; don’t even get me started — but for some reason, they work in muffins.

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Maybe it’s because there’s usually a lot of other ingredients to mask the nuttiness flavor that’s usually a turnoff for my taste buds.

You can also feel free to add ingredients to your favorite muffin recipes, tailoring the flavors to your personal preferences.

Most recipes call for a standard muffin size, but I like mixing things up by baking jumbo and miniature versions, too. Jumbo muffins have the additional bonus of being one muffin instead of two, or more, of the standard size.

I could go on and on about my love of muffins, but do you know what’s better than reading about muffins’ glory? Eating them. Get in the kitchen and get baking.

CHEESY SAUSAGE MUFFINS

  • 1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
  • 2 cups baking mix
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 12 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray.

In 10-inch skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat 5 to 6 minutes, stirring to crumble, until no longer pink; drain.

In large bowl, stir baking mix, cheese and red pepper. In medium bowl, beat milk, butter, mustard and egg with fork or wire whisk. Add milk mixture to baking mixture, stirring just until moistened. Stir in sausage. Spoon evenly into muffin cups.

Bake 17 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Source: www.pillsbury.com

RASPBERRY-WHITE CHOCOLATE MUFFINS

  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups baking mix
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup white baking chips
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup raspberries

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

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Grease bottoms only of 12 regular-size muffin cups, or place paper baking cup in each muffin cup.

Beat egg slightly in medium bowl.

Stir in remaining ingredients except raspberries just until moistened. Gently stir in raspberries. Divide batter evenly among cups.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan.

Source: “Bisquick to the Rescue: More than 100 Emergency Meals to Save the Day!” by the editors at Betty Crocker (General Mills; 2011)

MORNING GLORY MUFFINS

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup whole pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch of ground mace (optional)
  • 3/4 cup carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 apple (Gala or Fuji), peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup dried pineapple, finely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons rice bran grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup zucchini, grated
  • 1/4 cup raisins or currants
  • 1 1/2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the middle.

In a large bowl, gently whisk to combine the flour, sugar, coconut, pecans, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and mace and set aside. Combine the carrot, apple, pineapple, oil, zucchini, raisins, eggs, and vanilla in a spate bowl and set aside.

Stir in the liquid mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon.

Spray the muffin pan really well with non-stick spray, then line with paper liners.

Scoop 1/4 cup batter into each paper liner.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. The muffins should be light and golden in appearance.

Remove from the oven and allow them to rest in the pan for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Recipe adapted from “Cakelove in the Morning: Recipes for Muffins, Scones, Pancakes, Waffles, Biscuits, Frittatas, and Other Breakfast Treats” by Warren Brown (Abrams; 2012)

BRANDIED PEACH MUFFINS

  • 14-ounce canned peaches in natural juice
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Heaping 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons sunflower oil or 6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • Finely ground rind of one orange

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-hole muffins pan with 12 paper liners. Drain and finely chop the peaches. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar.

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Place the eggs in a large pitcher or bowl and beat lightly, then beat in the buttermilk, oil, brandy, and orange rind. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the beaten liquid ingredients, and add the chopped peaches. Stir gently until just combined; do not overmix. Spoon the batter into the paper liners.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until well risen, golden brown, and firm to the touch. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: “1001 Cupcakes, Cookies & Other Tempting Treats” (Parragon Books Ltd; 2009)

BISCUIT MUFFINS

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom or nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup cold cultured buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, for sprinkling, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the cups of a standard muffin tin.

In a large bowl or in the work bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt. Distribute the butter over the top of the flour mixture. Using a fork or with the electric mixer on low speed, cut in the butter for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs laced with small chunks of butter.

Turn off the mixer, if using, and pour the buttermilk into the center of the dough. Using a fork or with the mixer on low speed, mix until the dough forms a sticky mass, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium for about 10 seconds; the mass will form a moist, sticky clump on the paddle and clear the sides of the bowl. Do not overmix; you are just lightly mixing the dough and letting it pull together.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Scrape the dough off the fork or paddle with a rubber spatula or plastic dough card. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the batter to the mass of dough. Sprinkle the top with some flour. With floured fingers, fold the dough over and gently knead for 6 to 8 gentle strokes, leaving the dough very soft and as sticky as possible. Using a dough card, cut the dough into 12 equal portions; they will be lumpy and uneven. Place each dough piece in a muffin cup, sprinkle with some sugar, and press lightly to fill the cups.

Bake on the center rack of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until firm to the touch and the tops and bottoms are golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the muffins to the cooling rack to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Source: “Bread for Breakfast” by Beth Hensperger (Ten Speed Press; 2001)

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