I made some breakfast muffins the other day and while looking over the recipe I had an Aha!! moment (even after 25 years of cooking professionally I still get those once in a while). I realized that the recipe for muffins that I was reading was almost exactly the same as my recipe for pancakes.
I like to base my recipes on a uniform amount of flour so that I can see how different baked goods resemble each other. I usually start with 2 cups of flour (which is a nice friendly amount) and go from there. So if I am trying a new recipe I will often convert it to this amount first. After doing this with the muffin recipe that I wanted to try I saw that the ingredients and technique for a good basic muffin were essentially the same as those for pancakes but with half the liquid, and more butter (depending on your pancake recipe). So I thought I would present these two recipes for you so you can see for yourself.
My idea of a good muffin, by the way, is one that is tender, not too sweet, and is light and moist. A good muffin will pack in enough healthy ingredients to give you a good start to the day, in a super-convenient, eat on the run format. Most commercially made muffins are either cupcakes-minus-the-frosting or dry-as-cardboard low-fat monstrosities that even the tallest grande coffee will have a hard time moistening. And it’s so easy to make your own muffins at home once a week and freeze them so that you have a good nutritious breakfast ready when you want it.
Basic Muffin Recipe: (Yield 12 medium sized muffins)
2 cups (10 ozs.) Flour – I use ½ Whole Wheat and ½ All Purpose (for most accurate measuring weigh flour)
3 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
Spices as desired
2 Eggs, Extra Large
1 cup (8 ozs.) Milk, Whole or 2%
½ cup (4 ozs.) Vegetable Oil
½ cup (4 ozs.) Sugar
1 – 2 cups of fresh or dried fruits, nuts, oats, bran, grated vegetables (i.e. carrots, zucchini), chocolate chips, etc. Moisture content of these items varies so you may need to experiment with quantities.
Preheat oven to 350F.
1) Weigh flour, then mix with remaining dry ingredients. Sift these together either with a sifter, or by putting them in the food processor for a few minutes (both techniques will aerate the flour which is the goal here).
2) Whisk eggs and sugar together in a small bowl, then add oil and milk.
3) Add wet ingredients to dry and mix together gently to just combine – do not over-mix batter. Fold in any additional ingredients. Fill muffin cups (sprayed with nonstick spray) with batter.
4) Bake for about 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Basic Pancake Recipe: (Yields about 12 Medium Pancakes)
2 cups (10 ozs.) Flour – All Purpose (or ½ Whole Wheat and ½ All Purpose)
2 tsp. Baking Powder = 1 tsp. per cup flour
1 tsp. Salt
2 Eggs, Extra Large = 1 egg per cup flour
2 cups (16 ozs.) Milk, Whole or 2% = 1 cup milk per cup flour
4 Tbsp. (2 ozs.) Butter, melted
4 Tbsp. (2 ozs.) Sugar
1 cup of fresh fruits, chocolate chips, cottage cheese, etc.
Butter or non-stick spray for griddle
1) Preheat electric griddle or frying pan (I prefer cast iron for even heat).
2) Prepare batter in same manner as for muffins, blending dry and wet ingredients separately then combining until just mixed.
3) If possible let batter rest for 30 – 60 minutes. The pancakes will be noticeably fluffier and more tender if you allow this resting time.
4) Spread a small dab of butter over surface of griddle (or spray with cooking spray) and ladle batter onto griddle. Let cook until bubbles appear throughout the surface, then flip over and cook the other side. Serve with your preferred topping.
Now just a few words about why I consider these recipes to be so similar.
1) They use the same method of mixing the batter.
2) The ingredients are virtually the same but the quantities differ. The main difference is that the muffins use ½ as much liquid resulting in a thicker batter. Some recipes do bake pancake batter in the oven (think baked apple pancakes) but that requires a baking dish to contain the batter.
3) Muffins use a little more leavening since the batter is thicker.
4) Muffins sometimes use more fat (in this case oil since we’re trying to be healthy in the morning) since they are baked rather than on a griddle with additional fat, and they use more sugar since they usually aren’t smothered in maple syrup. But remember sugar is always adjustable based on your taste so use less if you want.