Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Peanut Butter Muffins

These peanut butter muffins turned out to be everyone's favorite.  The best part is how moist they are.  I'm having a hard time conveying in pictures just how moist.  But they're almost like a soft peanut butter . . . cookie?  Really good, especially the top edges.

These have an interesting mixing method.  (Here is where I got the original recipe.)  You recall that usually in muffins, you use a specific mixing method: dry ingredients, wet ingredients, fold together until just combined.  You don't want to develop the gluten like you do in yeast bread; if you overmix, the muffins won't have a nice tender crumb.  Or, if your muffin recipe calls for softened butter instead of oil, you probably use the creaming method, like you would for cake.  I learned all this from my mom when I was little.

These muffins, though, have you do weird things like mix the eggs with part of the brown sugar---and add the butter before the peanut butter.  Strange.  I couldn't see why it was necessary, so I didn't do it the first time, and my muffins turned out flat.  And sure, looks aren't everything, but they just weren't as moist as I felt they might be, either.  So I wanted to try to improve them.

Flat muffins can be caused by a few different things.  Filling the cups too full (they are only supposed to be filled three-fourths of the way) can do it , and so can a too-low baking temperature.  So next, I tried preheating the oven to 425, and immediately turning it down to 350 once I put the muffins in.  This is supposed to help "oven spring."  I also made sure not to overfill my muffin cups.  But still, they were flat:  

Okay, now I was ready to sheepishly try the mixing method the recipe called for in the first place.  Using that method (and the regular temperature, 350 degrees) yielded these:
They aren't perfectly domed, but much better.  See the crust of the muffin in the foreground?  It rose up above the rim of the pan before hardening.  I like to see that because it shows they are getting a lot of "oven spring."

Then I tried two more things: (1.) using the called-for mixing method, and ALSO preheating the oven to 425.  I tried baking them at 425 for 12 minutes (many of my muffin recipes call for high temperatures like these, with shorter baking times---as opposed to the 350 degrees/25 minutes in the original recipe) and they looked good, but I thought they were a bit dry.  
Then (2.) I tried the different mixing method, preheating the oven to 425, and then immediately turning it down to 350 when the muffins were in.  Perfect.  And there we have my somewhat scientific method (can one be somewhat scientific in method?  Must ask my brother Karl) of testing this recipe.  I don't know why the mixing method works, but it appears to, so I'll do it.


After wading through the preceding discourse, you deserve some peanut butter muffins.  So here is the recipe, adjusted as I have described.  I hope it yields you perfectly delicious muffins.

Peanut Butter Muffins

1/3 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. brown sugar, divided
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. peanut butter
2 large eggs, beaten
2 1/2 t. baking powder
2 c. flour
3/4 c. milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Put the softened butter in a large bowl and gradually add 1 c. of the brown sugar, the salt, and the vanilla, and cream together until light and fluffy.  Next add the peanut butter and cream again.  Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs together until well-beaten.  Add the remaining 1/2 c. brown sugar and mix until completely blended.  Stir into the creamed mixture gradually, until well blended.

In (yet another) bowl, [you can see why I didn't want to use this method right off the bat; I don't like dirtying so many bowls] sift together the baking powder and flour.  Gradually add these dry ingredients alternately with the 3/4 c. milk to the creamed mixture, until everything is combined.

Spoon batter into greased muffin tin, filling cups 3/4 full.  (I prefer NOT to use cupcake liners for these, but you could if you wish.)  Put muffin tins into oven, and immediately turn oven temperature down to 350.  Don't forget, or your muffins will burn.  [I've done this. Twice.]  Bake for 16-17 minutes or until tops of muffins spring back when touched lightly with your finger.

1 comment:

  1. I would never dirty three bowls for muffins without your recommendation. Also, "oven spring"? How do you even know these things? The other day the pharmacy asked me to confirm my son's date of birth and it took me a couple of seconds to remember it. But you, you not only remember *5* birthdays, you also know about things like oven spring. Impressive.

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