Muffins are a regular snack in our house because they are one of the fastest treats I can whip up, and because they are pretty much nev-R-fail. Because I have such little time, I like to make things that I know will be successful, and that I know my kids will eat. As a wise man often says to me, don’t go into something unless you already know what the outcome will be. It hasn’t steered him wrong so I should learn from him.
The Magic Muffin Mix is a classic example of knowing what the outcome will be. My grandmother picked up this recipe and taught it to me, and it is impossible to balls it up. This recipe makes 12 medium muffins, perfectly sized for a kid’s lunchbox treat.
The great thing about the Magic Muffin Mix is that you can add anything to it to make any kind of muffins you like, make ’em sweet or savoury, Texas style or mini, low sugar, wholemeal or plain. It is the most versatile recipe in my repertoire and I make them at least twice a week, even this Wonder Week when I was hobbling around the kitchen like Grampa Simpson after a bender.
The recipe is a base recipe, to which you can add whatever you like.
Base Magic Muffin Mix
1/4 cup oil – can be rice bran, canola, sunflower or any kind you like. You could probably use coconut oil but as I am allergic I have never tested it to see how it works. Extra Virgin Olive oil does work but the flavour is strong and it is the most expensive kind. I use rice bran oil
3/4-1 cup milk – I use low fat but you can use any milk or milk substitute like soy milk. I have also used runny yoghurt to replace all or some of the milk. The amount of milk varies according to your ingredients so use the 3/4 cup and see what your consistency is like. If the mix is too stiff, add a little more. It should be a nice, soft, dough similar to a lumpy cake mix.
1 egg or egg substitute – you can replace an egg with a mashed banana, apple puree, commercial egg replacer. I just use the egg because we are not allergic but I have left it out when I have run out of eggs without any real issues.
Vanilla extract – add a teaspoon of vanilla extract, but omit if making savoury muffins
Combine the wet ingredients in a large bowl or in the basin of your stand mixer.
1/2 cup sugar – I use regular sugar or raw sugar. If making savoury muffins, do not use.
2 cups self-raising flour – you can use 1.5 cups and replace with 1/2 cup rolled oats or wholemeal self-raising flour to increase the fibre. You can also do these gluten free by substituting a gluten free flour in the same proportions – they still turn out fine but will not keep as long.
To make plain muffins, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Do not overmix or your muffins will be tough. Your flour should be well mixed in but the mix should look lumpy – it should not be smooth like a cake and you do not beat it like a cake.
Spoon the muffin mix into either greased muffin holes or into a muffin tin lined with paper muffin cases. Because I hate washing all those little muffin tin holes, I do use paper muffin cases, but I am reconsidering this due to the waste that this generates.
Blueberry muffins, just out of the oven
This is the fun part. You can make any kind you like, but these are some of our regulars:
Blueberry: After mixing together, add a cup of frozen blueberries and gently fold through. Don’t mix too hard or you will have purple muffins
Chocolate chip: At the mixing stage, add 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Double chocolate: To the dry ingredients, sift 2/3 cup cocoa powder, and add 3/4 cup dark or white chocolate chips at the mixing stage
Cranberry carrot: To the wet ingredients add two grated carrots and a scraping of nutmeg, and then after mixing, swirl half a jar of cranberry sauce through the mix
Banana: To the wet ingredients, add a couple of mashed bananas and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Before baking, sprinkle the tops with cinnamon and sugar
Apple and sultana: to the wet ingredients, add a chopped apple, a cup of sultanas and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Before baking, sprinkle the tops with cinnamon and sugar
Lemon poppyseed: to the wet ingredients, add the rind of two lemons and 1/4 cup poppyseeds. Juice the lemons and mix with a couple of tablespoons of sugar and set aside. After baking, spoon the lemon/sugar mix over each hot muffin
Cheese and corn: omit any sugar and vanilla. To the wet ingredients, add a cup of frozen corn kernels and a cup of grated cheese
Zucchini and cheese: omit any sugar and vanilla. To the wet ingredients, add a cup of shredded zucchini, making sure to squeeze out any excess water, and a cup of grated cheese
You could also add some chopped ham or bacon to the savoury muffins. Savoury muffins are great with soup or to take to work.
The good thing about a basic muffin recipe is that you can vary it endlessly. I have made peach and vanilla muffins, plum streusel muffins, pear and banana muffins, raspberry and white chocolate muffins, tea and mixed fruit muffins, coffee muffins…
These keep a couple of days in an airtight container, but if they have fruit in them I recommend storing them in the fridge. They keep for weeks in the freezer.