I make a lot of muffins. They can make an easy and healthy breakfast that can include fruits and vegetables. Kids think of them like cupcakes and will eat them when they won’t eat other foods. I’m working now on cutting some of the sugar in most of the muffin recipes I use. I’ll include recipes I have success with as I go along.
The thing is no one wants to get up in the morning and put the ingredients together for a batch of muffins or mix them up when they’re trying to put a quick dinner together. I’m not a morning person, I don’t want to go in the kitchen and work for a half hour to mix the muffins and clean up the dishes so I make them in advance.
Another advantage to making them in advance is you can bake as many as you need. There are only two of us so a batch of muffins that makes 12 to 18 is too many to cook and have fresh. Also, if you have company coming it’s a great way to pop something in the oven to feed a bunch in the morning without a lot of work and hassle.
Here’s how I do it. I spend time in my kitchen and mix batches of muffins and freeze them. I have my favorite recipes and you can take advantage of the fruits and vegetables that are in season. I get a lot of recipes from my Williams-Sonoma cookbooks.
I have my favorite tools and processes for getting things all prepared.
I used to use regular muffin tins and the paper or foil muffin baking cups. I find the foil ones worked well for fruit muffins, like blueberry, because the fruit didn’t stick to the paper after they were cooked. I use these with the foil only, no paper. You can pick these up in the baking aisle of your grocery store.
To make filling my muffin cups easier I use a Disher or Ice Cream Scoop that’s ¼ cup or 2 ounces for a standard size muffin. It measures about the same amount out every time and you can do it with one hand. It’s less messy than using 2 spoons or a spoon and your fingers to get it in the cups and guessing about the amount to scoop. I sort of scoop out of the mixing bowl and run it up the side to level it off.
You can do the same technique with the mini or jumbo muffins also. Just use an appropriate Disher for the size of cup. Amazon.com carries a large line of them and there’s a Zeroll brand out there that seems to come in every size and a great deal of colors. I personally use the type like the OXO Cookie Scoops but I don’t see the 1/4 cup one in their inventory. They come in 3 sizes and I like the way the spring handle works for me.
So, I would mix my muffin batter up and fill my tins lined with cups and place them in the freezer. I’d use a small cooling rack in-between the tins so I could stack them. When they were frozen I would move them to a Tupperware container that I could stack 2 rows in. When you’re ready to use these muffins you just take them out, pop them back into the tin and bake as directed.
This worked well for me on a one-batch at a time basis but then I was making double batches and wanted to do more than one recipe on the day I was in the kitchen. Also, we moved to an apartment that had a narrow freezer and not much space so those tins wouldn’t slide in and stack.
I found a solution that has worked well for me. I purchased a couple sets of the Le Creuset Silicone 6-Piece Baking Cups. They run about $10, so it’s $20 for a dozen muffins. The man at the Le Creuset store convinced me these were worth the extra money because they were better than others on the market. Also, I believe in putting less trash in the environment and I felt like I threw away a lot of paper and foil. You’ll still want to use foil or paper cups if you’re planning on giving these muffins away.
So, now with the expense of these silicone cups I only had 2 dozen of them. I started reading reviews on the ones that were less expensive and some people said they were okay and some people really hated them. I was in Cost Plus World Market recently and they had them for about $2.50 for 6. That’s a big difference in cost. I bought 2 sets, a regular fluted cup and a flower shaped one. I don’t see them in their on-line shopping so you’ll have to go into a store to purchase them.
Then I ran my own tests. Here’s what I found:
I made a batch of Pear-Ginger Muffins from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking. I used some of each of the silicone cups I had and some of the foil baking cups. One thing you need to keep in mind is that silicone is flexible and you must use a cookie sheet under them to cook.
I did not grease any of these cups to use them. It’s not necessary.
The Le Creuset cups are thinner and more flexible than the ones from Cost Plus. The thickness of the Cost Plus cups means they hold their shape better and are easier to move around.
The muffins baked the same amount of time in each type of cup except the foil. They browned up and were done baking about 5 minutes before the ones in the silicone cups.
I let my muffins cool about 10 minutes before removing them from the cups.
The disposable foil cups easily peeled off the muffin and didn’t really stick at all.
The Le Creuset Silicone Cups peeled away very easily and left almost no muffin crumbs in the cup.
The Cost Plus Silicone Cups took a little more to peel away because they are a stiffer cup and couldn’t just be pulled quickly away. They left a small amount of residue in the cups but nothing more than a paper or foil cup.
So, I have pros and cons about each type of silicone cup. The Le Creuset cups do clean up a little easier but not enough to make a big difference. There’s an advantage to the thicker cups for moving and storing. The softer, thinner shape of the Le Creuset makes a flatter shape and may not make as pretty of a cupcake for frosting. However, you can always put the Le Creuset cups in a muffin tin to bake them and the shape will hold. The ease of removing the Le Creuset is a plus if you have kids. The different shapes and designs of the the thicker cups do make for decorative serving. But I have not tried to remove these on completely cooled cupcakes and I’ve seen a few complaints about them being harder to remove when cooled.
My favorite place to shop for cooking supplies is Amazon. You can get all the brands and usually free shipping as well as 4-for-3 promotions on the small essentials. You will see me repeatedly point you there for products. We lived on the Big Island in Hawai’i and this kind of stuff was hard to buy and very expensive when you did find it. Amazon still shipped to up with their free shipping on $25.