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Why don't my muffins have pretty, domed tops?

  • d

My muffins are more or less flat on the top. If I add more batter, they just spread into the next muffin. Seems to be the case for all recipies. What am I doing wrong?

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  1. Could be several different reasons: amount of leavening, oven temperature, how you mix the batter, the muffin pan ... . What's the recipe you use (ingredients and method)?

    6 Replies
    1. re: CTer

      Well, I've used a dozen diffent recipes, but usually I make the ones that are similar to a cake recipe, and start with butter. I get flat ones regardless. I think it must be the pan. Any ideas what kind of pan produces taller muffins?

      As to the oven, I've never had the thermostat checked, but I do cook everything 25 degrees less than the recipe says, per the instructions for my convection oven. That seems to work fine for cakes, etc.


      1. re: danna

        No, I kind of doubt it's the pan after all -- muffin/cupcake tins are pretty standard.

        It sounds like you're not getting enough rise, which could be the leavening (baking powder, baking soda plus acid, beaten eggs, air), or could be the oven temp. Then again, if you use what's basically a cake recipe, that has different proportions of ingredients and a VERY different mixing method from a basic muffin recipe. Cupcakes round some, but nowhere near as much as muffins. Maybe you're just getting cupcakes???

        1. re: CTer

          YES _ EXACTLY - I'm getting cupcakes...but the recipes call themselves muffins. What do you think I should look for in a muffin recipe? More of the one-bowl, oil-for-shortening kind?

          Thanks for the in-depth analysis.

          1. re: danna

            Hmmmph; muffins and cupcakes are (or should be) 2 very different creatures. A cupcake cannot be called a muffin, any more than those round rolls with holes in the middle can be called "bagels." But that's another story ...

            Here's a basic muffin recipe, with introductory notes, from "A World of Breads" by Dolores Casella (published by David White Co., 1966):

            "...Once you have the Basic Muffin Recipe firmly in mind, you have the foundation for any number of of culinary treats, limited only by your own imagination.

            The single most important item to remember is to stir -- never beat -- the batter. The ingredients should be moistened, but still limpy. The muffin tins should be filled no more that two-thirds full, to allow for expansion.


            2 cups sifted flour
            2 teaspoons baking powder
            1/2 teeaspoon salt
            2 Tablespoons sugar
            1 beaten egg
            1 cup cold milk
            1/4 cup melted butter.

            Sift the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients all at once. Stir just to moisten the dry ingredients; the batter should be lumpy and rough. Fill greased muffin tins only two-thirds full. Bake at 400 degrees [here you'll have to adjust for the convection oven] for 20 to 25 minutes [ditto]. Serve hot with plenty of butter and jam."

            For variations, you can throw in nuts, fruits, grated cheese, crumbled bacon, etc. etc. My mother used to add whatever cereal she had bought on sale and didn't like enough to eat as is. Have fun!

            1. re: CTer

              Thanks very much. I note that this a lower fat than most of the "muffins" I've been making. I love a win-win situation.

        2. re: danna

          Don't know if this is accurate but my grandmother told me that if your oven is 350 a pan with a light dusting of flour will lightly brown in one minute. Dark brown = too high. More than a minute = too slow.

      2. Have you checked the accuracy of your oven thermostat? I had the same problem until I bought an oven thermometer and found out my oven ran about 35 degrees cooler than the temperature I set.

        1. I know others have suggested this but personally I think that before you try anything else raise your cooking temp. 25-50 degrees. First try 25 then 50 degrees. If this doesn't do it then try new pans, then new recipes, etc. but do it one at a time to narrow the possibilties. I think that it's a very good chance that it is the temp, especially with a convection oven. I have had ones that were off by 50+ degrees.

          1 Reply
          1. re: the rogue

            Excellent suggestion. If this works for you, you might want to get an oven thermometer, because it probably means your oven temperature is off.

            If you ever see muffins with high peaks, that look like volcanoes, with batter bursting out a crack in the top, this is an indication that the oven was too hot.

          2. Cooksillustrated.com has several recipes for combating exactly this problem, and the key ingredient they found to achieve a big, round overhang was yogurt in the batter. Even if you don't use their exact recipe, it's worth the read.

            1. I would need to know what kind of muffin you are making - corn, sweet, blueberry etc. But try this tip -just once and if it doesn't work, forget it. After you mix your muffins, let them rest - no more stirring - for five minutes. The batter should puff up; then fill your muffin cups. You may be surprised at the puffiness - but maybe not. It depends on the type of batter you are using. Good luck!

              1. Hi--

                I'm a full-time culinary student, and today in class we did muffins and quickbreads, so I have some more off-the-wall thoughts:

                1) What kind of baking powder are you using? Make sure it's double-acting, otherwise all the "rise" will occur at room temperature, and nothing will happen when you put them in the oven (in terms of leavening).

                2) Could you be overbeating the batter? If the little amount of gluten gets overdeveloped during mixing, it may prevent the batter from rising when cooked as well. Is the texture of the muffins ok when they came out? If it's chewy, then this may be your problem. Batter only needs to be mixed until all ingredients come together.

                Anyway, just a couple ideas.

                1. The problem is likely over mixing. With muffins you combine the wet and dry ingredients seperately. You then add the dry to wet mixing just until combined. You should still see streaks of flour in the mix.

                  Also, do you use muffin papers? If you do they don't tend to rise as high or get as brown.

                  1. I have found that I get a better shape if I drop the batter from an ice cream scoop.

                    1. Could be one or more of a variety of problems. Are you preheating the oven sufficiently? Are you overmixing? Are you filling the muffin cups too full? Those are the three things that come to mind.

                      1. I was just studying up on this problem and there are many suggestions on the internet that said to make sure the batter was a very thick one, not liquidy at all. That is what the other poster meant when they suggested "scooping" the batter. Also, to fill mostly full. I just tried it this AM - I used much less buttermilk than usual, and I only filled 10 of my cups (using 2 1/4 c. flour) and I got nice domed tops! FWIW, I also started at 425 for 10 minutes, and then turned down to 350.

                        1. Saw a suggestion of increasing oven temperature and then decreasing when putting in oven as this helps the baking powder perform better.

                          1. What is the recipe you followed?

                            Here is how to get a peak on your muffins: If the outside edge sets while the center is juicy and still rising, you get a peak. Simple as that.

                            A higher oven temperature (at least 400 degrees F) deliberately causes the outside of the muffin to set faster than the center, thus giving you a peak.

                            I'm not saying this is definitely the issue, but it's a common problem among flawed recipes.