We know you like baking quick-and-easy recipes and personalizing your food. This Mix-and-Match muffin recipe from the Midwest Living® Test Kitchen helps you do both. Follow the basic recipe to create a quick, versatile muffin mix. Then choose other ingredient combinations (a liquid, a stir-in and a topping) to create your personalized recipe with a sweet or savory twist.
Even the basic recipe gives you some choices for making it your own. Pick the type of flour; granulated sugar or brown sugar; buttermilk or milk; and butter, margarine or cooking oil.
Link to the main recipe below, and follow the slide show for a look at all the ways you can personalize your muffin mix.
Pictured, L-R: Minis with yogurt and streusel topping; standard with red bell pepper and Parmesan; jumbo with dried cranberries and streusel.
Once you've got your basic ingredients together, you can choose from flour options. Two cups of all-purpose flour will do, but for variations, try substituting part of the all-purpose flour with:
-- buckwheat flour
-- quick-cooking oats
-- yellow cornmeal
-- rye flour
-- whole wheat flour
Our recipe gives you the proportions for each substitution. All the variations will make a heartier muffin with richer color.
When the basic recipe's dry ingredients are ready, it's time to mix the eggs, milk and butter with a liquid that will make the recipe special.
If you're making a savory muffin, try 3/4 cup of one of these ingredients:
-- ricotta cheese
-- dairy sour cream
-- plain yogurt
-- finely shredded unpeeled zucchini
You'll get a hint of tang with the dairy products or a nice dash of color and texture with the zucchini.
If you're making a sweet muffin, try 3/4 cup of one of these ingredients:
• canned pumpkin
• unsweetened applesauce
• lemon curd
Finish off your savory muffin with a stir-in such as 2-4 tablespoons of one of these add-ins:
-- green onions
-- snipped fresh chives
-- snipped fresh parsley (left)
-- finely chopped onion
-- finely chopped green or red sweet pepper
-- finely diced cooked ham
-- crumbled crisp-cooked bacon
-- Parmesan cheese (2 tablespoons)
-- poppy seeds (1 tablespoon)
Once the muffin mix is complete and poured into pans, add a savory topper such as 1/3 cup crushed potato chips or cereal flakes.
Stir-ins for sweet muffins include 3/4 cup of your choice of:
• fresh or frozen blueberries (or 1/3 cup dried blueberries)
• coarsely chopped dried cranberries or cherries
• snipped pitted dates
• snipped dried apricots
• snipped dried figs
• snipped dried plums
For a sweet topping, try streusel: 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon or ginger. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Stir in 2 tablespoons chopped nuts and 2 tablespoons coconut, if you like.
To make muffins in a size other than standard (2 1/2 inches), prepare the batter as directed, but adjust baking time and temperature.
Mini (1 3/4 inches): Bake 10 to 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Yield: 42.
Jumbo (3 1/2 inches): Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Yield: 6.
Muffin top (3-3 1/2 inches): Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Yield: 12.
Pictured: Minis with yogurt and streusel topping
Our Test Kitchen baked many different combinations and found them all tender, moist and tasty. For instance, we tried cornmeal, red pepper and Parmesan cheese (left); cornmeal, pumpkin and prunes; oatmeal, zucchini and Parmesan; and oatmeal, lemon curd and blueberries.
What about your ideas? Share your favorite muffin mix-ins in the comments section of the recipe or at the Mix-and-Match Muffin discussion in our community Food Forum.
More of our favorite muffins include Lemon Poppy Seed and Fudge Brownie Cheesecake muffins (left), Jumbo Coffeecake Muffins and Maple Oatmeal Muffins.
(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® May/June 2008.)