After the success of that Olive Oil Salt bread, I flipped a page or two and came upon a few recipes for muffins as well. I am a sucker for a good muffin. I hope no one's going to get sick of the recipes from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, but by golly, these are great so far! And if I turn a few more pages, there are a few Indian flat breads too! They need to be eaten freshly made, but still!
Anyway, back to the muffins. What struck me right away was that these muffins used oil, and not much of it. It did say in the recipe that you could use melted butter, but I wanted to use a heart healthy oil, so I went with olive oil. The first muffins I made I added a chopped banana too, and then sprinkled the top with cinnamon sugar before baking. Yesterday was another batch with chopped cranberries and some grated orange zest. (Those needed a pinch of nutmeg- I must make a note of that.) You literally can mix anything you want into these muffins and they come out delicious and lightly sweet. You can sweeten them more if you'd like with some extra sugar, but they're very nice, just the way they are. The only problem with them, if you consider it a problem, is that they don't puff up and crown beautifully. They're rustic looking, but terribly delicious and addictive. They are best fresh, but a quick pop in a warm oven will refresh them for a short while. I won't post the many variations here that Bittman gives, just use your imagination and add it to the batter.
Muffins, Infinite Ways
from HTCEV by Mark Bittman
3 tablespoons melted butter or neutral oil, plus a little fat for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk, plus more if needed
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line it with muffin cups.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Beat together the egg, milk and melted butter or oil. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, combine the ingredients swiftly, stirring and folding rather than beating and stopping as soon as all the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter should be lumpy, not smooth, and thick, but quite moist; add a little more milk or other liquid if necessary.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them about two-thirds full and handling the batter as little as possible. (If you prefer bigger muffins, fill the cups almost to the top. Pour 1/4 cup water into those cups left empty.) Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the muffins are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of them comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the tin. Serve warm.