I know-I've really been on a muffin making kick lately. It's starting to be a bit of the routine here actually. And why not? When I find something that is universally liked in this house, I run with it.
And muffins can be made with virtually nothing and still be appealing. In fact, this recipe (and I use that term loosely) was concocted with the little bits and scraps in the fridge and freezer...just to see what I could use up.
For instance, I had a few bags of frozen berries in the freezer that had just enough to not know what to do with. And a jar of applesauce that was upside down in the fridge waiting to get used up. And part of a can of evaporated milk from the muffins last weekend.
So I took a basic muffin recipe and tried substituting things where they would fit. Now, let me just say that you can't do this with every recipe. A recipe is, after all, a formula for a chemical reaction. Certain ingredients must always remain--like the baking powder or the salt. You need these things. But flavors can be adjusted as can most fats. So, if you are responsible with the core elements of the formula, you can play mad scientist with the rest and still get an edible product.
This recipe is for approximately 12 large (think coffee house size) muffins....as always, you can use this for tea bread loaves, smaller muffins et al but make sure the pans are sprayed and lined where necessary.)
...oh, and crank up the oven to 400, Norma
I'll give you the ingredients with possible substitutions on the side. I also wouldn't recommend changing everything...that would be called another recipe.
4 cups AP flour (whole wheat flour or half AP/half whole wheat)
2 tbs +2 tsp baking powder (core ingredient-don't mess with)
1 1/2 cup sugar (brown sugar or 1 1/8 cups honey)
1 tsp salt (you need it, trust me)
2 cups berries (whatever you have lying around, including diced strawberries. Also, you could use finely diced apples if you have a couple rattling around in the crisper. I had raspberries, blackberries and blueberries)
4 eggs (you can substitute 2 yolks for every one egg if you have a few extra around but I wouldn't replace all the whole eggs this way)
1 cup melted butter (try substituting with applesauce for a low fat approach or 7/8 cup of shortening or 1 cup vegetable oil or 1 cup margarine. I used 1/2 cup applesauce with 1/2 canola oil)
2 cups milk (buttermilk, sour milk, sour cream, yogurt, evaporated milk, whipping cream with a bit of water added....I had 1 cup of evap milk from last weekend and I added 1 cup of skim to it)
Do you see what I'm doing here? You have to have a gluten structure (the flour), a rising agent (the baking powder), a fat (for tenderness and moisture), a protein for structure (the eggs and milk) and a sweetener that has a bulk to it (*this is why you can't just go subbing splenda all the time in baked goods-there isn't a bulk factor to it so the product is always flat). These are the building blocks of baked goods.
Okay, back to the mixing bowl....
Cream the butter (or the fat of your choice) with the sugar, then add the eggs.
In a separate bowl, blend together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add one half of this to the wet mixture and mix briefly. Now add the milk; blend briefly again. Add the remaining flour. With a spatula, fold in the fruit of your choice.
Scoop into prepared pans. I topped my muffins this time with some sanding sugar but if you had any crumb topping left in the fridge or freezer, this is a good time to add it.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes for large muffins (45 for coffee cake, 13-15 for small muffins, 30 minutes for a tea loaf). Insert a toothpick or thin-bladed knife to test for doneness before removing from the oven. Cool (yes I am).
Once you know the formula, you can make it work for you in any given scenario....it's like you're the McGuyver of baked goods (just don't forget your duct tape).