Ah, the elusive, highly sought after muffin top (and I'm not referring to the unsightly overhang happening because my pants are too tight). I'm talking about the domed top of the muffin that you can only find on jumbo muffins served at cafes. It's the favorite part for most muffin connoisseurs, In fact, there was even a whole Seinfeld episode about muffin tops. Everybody wants the top.
Once the top is gone, the stump is hard to eat. It sticks to the paper. It crumbles between your fingers. Crumbs spill all over everywhere, and the berries and chocolate chips stain your fingers. It's a real mess. Nobody likes the stump of the muffin.
I've been wondering about how coffee shops achieve the famous "muffin top." So, I did some research, and I baked a lot of muffins to find out how. First of all a thicker batter is key to forming a muffin top. Why? I'm not sure. Maybe it's a structural thing. Thick batters have more structure therefore the steam from baking really pushes it up, while think batters tend to spread out more than up, I guess. Also, part of the trick to achieving a muffin top is actually filling the muffin paper. The more full the paper, the more of a top you get.
And to further the "muffin top experiment", I also tested 4 baking methods (this is where "I get my geek on"):
- Mix batter and bake immediately at 350°F: fairly flat top, not much of a top
- Mix batter and bake immediately starting at 425°F for about 8 minutes, then finishing the baking time at 350°F: pointed dome top that really peaks upward
- Mix batter and store in fridge overnight, then bake 24 hours later at 350°F: same as #1 but more puffed
- Mix batter and store in fridge overnight, then bake 24 hours later starting at 425°F, then immediately dropping oven temperature setting to 350°F when you put them in the oven (as recommended by Thomas Keller in his Bouchon Bakery book): same as #3
Now, here's the thing. I actually have no problem with the stump of the muffin. I am proud to say that during 11 years of university, I had plenty of time and opportunities to figure out the solution to the muffin stump eating problem. My method probably stems from my enjoyment of eating things in sections, and also my tendency to save the best for last.
I completely remove the paper, flip over the muffin and then I eat it, from the bottom to the top.
This works every time. There's hardly any mess, virtually no waste, and no bits of cake and chocolate or fruit stuck under your fingernails. Just clean, muffin enjoyment.
Sometimes, I even dare to take the stump off the top (am I making sense anymore?), and set the top down on the muffin paper "plate". Then I eat the stump first, and finish off with the best part, which is the top I've saved.
It really doesn't matter what temperature you bake these muffins because they are amazing, stump and all (loosely adapted from here). I am a huge fan of blueberry muffins but what sends these over the top is the honey: the honey flavor is actually quite pronounced, especially on the aftertaste. I baked these to a deeper "golden brown delicious" to really enhance the caramel notes of the cake. No bland vanilla taste here.
Honey blueberry muffinsPublished: August 18th, 2013, Cook time: ~25 minutes
Makes 10 muffins
- For the muffin batter
- 180 grams fresh blueberries
- 200 grams all-purpose flour
- 3 grams baking powder
- 3 grams baking soda
- 2 grams salt
- 96 grams Stirling unsalted butter, room temperature
- 96 grams granulated sugar
- 94 grams honey
- 72 grams (1.5) large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 57 grams buttermilk
- 10 grams all-purpose flour
- For the streusel topping
- 40 grams all-purpose flour
- 40 grams ground almonds
- 40 grams granulated sugar
- pinch salt
- Place the blueberries in the freezer before beginning.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar.
- Beat in the honey, then the eggs and vanilla.
- Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
- When the batter is ready, take the mixer bowl off the stand. Toss the frozen blueberries in the extra 10 grams of flour, then fold them in gently with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- For a "regular" muffin top: divide the batter between 10 muffin paper-lined wells of a muffin pan (~70 grams batter per paper) and bake at 350°F for about 25 minutes. For a "domed" muffin top: divide the batter between 10 muffin paper-lined wells of a muffin pan (~70 grams batter per paper) and bake at 350°F(~70 grams batter per paper) and bake at 425°F for 8 minutes, then drop temperature setting to 350°F for the last 15–17 minutes. For a "puffy" muffin top: refrigerate the batter overnight, then scoop the batter into 10 muffin paper-lined wells of a muffin pan and bake them at 350°F for about 25 minutes.
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