HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
What are you cooking today?
TELL US

What's the secret to light fluffy muffins?

d
ddelicious Jul 26, 2007 11:52 AM

My muffins always seem to come out very dense. What am I doing wrong? Overmixing? Improperly scooping?

  1. Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. thenurse Jul 26, 2007 11:56 AM

    Sift, use buttermilk, don't overmix!

    1 Reply
    1. re: thenurse
      d
      ddelicious Jul 26, 2007 12:14 PM

      buttermilk even if the recipe doesn't call for it?

    2. paulj Jul 26, 2007 12:31 PM

      Isn't it hard to diagnose your problem without knowing anything about the recipe you use, or what you are doing? Some muffin recipes, by design, make dense, moist, hearty muffins. Others are indistinguishable from cup cakes.

      paulj

      1. Candy Jul 26, 2007 06:05 PM

        Put you your dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Mix your liquids, buttermilk and eggs seperately. Combine the two with about 3 strokes. You should be able to see dry lumps of batter. Spoon into wating muffin tins, I always use papers to ensure they always come out easily. Bake. More than three or four swipes and you are over mixing.

        1. jinet12 Jul 27, 2007 04:16 AM

          To avoid overmixing, you actually create what is called a "well" in the bowl. This is achieved by putting in all the dry ingredients, and leaving an open space or "well" in the middle of the bowl...You add the wet ingredients in the "well" then you carefully fold the dry ingredients into the well, just until it is moistened, but the batter does not have to be completely smooth...Don't worry about small lumps, as they will dissipate once baked...

          4 Replies
          1. re: jinet12
            d
            ddelicious Jul 27, 2007 05:58 AM

            So, don't use my mixer? Or maybe use it but for way less time. I think overmixing might be the issue. Thanks everyone, I'll experiment on the weekend!

            1. re: ddelicious
              b
              BostonCookieMonster Jul 27, 2007 06:39 AM

              Definitely, do not use a mixer!

              The Cook's Illustrated master muffin recipe makes very light, fluffy muffins. It calls for creaming the butter (you could use the mixer for that) instead of the usual "barely mix wet + dry ingredients" method. I am actually not that crazy about these muffins, butthey are indeed light and fluffy.

              1. re: BostonCookieMonster
                paulj Jul 27, 2007 09:39 AM

                A general purpose cookbook like Joy, distinguishes between muffins made with the 'cake method' (creaming the butter with the sugar), and the 'muffin method', where wet ingredients are quickly mixed with the dry.

                I wonder if the choice of flour makes a difference. For example would lower gluten cake flour (or southern style biscuit flour) make lighter muffins?

                paulj

              2. re: ddelicious
                o
                Orchid64 Jul 27, 2007 06:49 AM

                You never want to use a mixer for muffins or overmix them because it works the gluten in the flour too much which makes for tougher muffins with "tunnels" in them.

                That being said, this may only be one of your problems. If you grease the sides of the muffin tins, the muffins may not raise well and this will make them denser. Grease only the bottom of the tins. Your muffins shouldn't stick (they usually pull away from the sides) so don't worry about that.

            2. s
              slowfoodgrrl Jul 27, 2007 10:15 AM

              First, yes yes yes to those who have warned against the mixer. Mix by hand and resist the urge to make the batter look uniformly mixed. Little clumps of flour are good.

              The other technique that helps is making sure you are baking the muffins hot enough, and especially that they get a blast of heat at the beginning of baking. Most muffin recipes I know call for baking powder. BP (as opposed to baking soda) works with the heat of the oven to cause lift, which helps create a light crumb. You want a blast of heat in the first 10 minutes of baking to make that lift happen. It isn't a bad idea to set the oven 25 degrees hotter than the recipe calls for and then turn it down to the proper temp when you put the pan in the oven. And then do not open the door during the first ten minutes of baking. Good luck.

              Not sure what else you might be doing, but in my experience making substitutions (like applesauce or prune puree in place of oil or melted butter) often causes leadenness. I can't say I've had many low fat muffins with a light crumb.

              1 Reply
              1. re: slowfoodgrrl
                t
                Texchef Jul 27, 2007 10:25 AM

                Thanks for that info slowfoodgrrl. I bake all the time and didn't know about BP vs baking soda.

              2. chef chicklet Jul 27, 2007 05:10 PM

                I dove into the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook today for Blueberry Muffins. All I can say is that these are the best bb muffins I've ever made, period. I started to make ones that I found on CH with a streusel topping with sour cream. However the recipe would make 32 and I don't like to adjust recipes down or up the first time out, and I also didn't want 32 muffins that might be not so good. So I tried hers. The recipe says it will make 12. I could not find my standard muffin tin? So I used the larger one that makes 6, no big deal. We like big muffins. I made no changes other than that. I sprinkled the tops with the Wiltons coarse sugar prior to baking, and baked them a little longer. You will need to adjust the time according to your own oven These took about 35 minutes, middle rack and I did turn half way through.
                The batter was enough for 7 large muffins.

                They came out exactly the way I would want. Actually I think they are nicer than the picture in her book. Oh, and I did not flour the berries so they wouldn't sink. I don't ever have a problem with that. They stayed put just fine.

                Take a peek!
                http://www.flickr.com/photos/7220939@N03/920814909/
                http://www.flickr.com/photos/7220939@...

                1. d
                  ddelicious Aug 8, 2007 07:00 AM

                  Thanks for all the tips, I made my usual muffin recipe but hand mixed instead of using the mixer and it made all the difference. Light fluffy muffins at last! Now if I could just figure out what my mixer is good for..............................

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ddelicious
                    s
                    slowfoodgrrl Aug 8, 2007 12:46 PM

                    Cookies and bread!

                    1. re: ddelicious
                      choctastic Aug 8, 2007 07:55 PM

                      Meringue!

                    Show Hidden Posts