Muffins are More than Breakfast

Liven up a basic muffin recipe with chocolate chips and banana.

Hungry for carbs and lacking scarce yeast, many home bakers are attempting sourdough loaves. But what if you don’t have the patience or time to babysit a slow-rising, finicky dough? Quick breads are the answer. For the truly impatient, muffins mix up fast and are versatile enough to satisfy from breakfast through dinner.

Easy enough for a child to make, a muffin offers infinite possibilities to upgrade with what you have in your fridge or pantry. The key is to replace liquid with liquid, mix-ins with mix-ins, and be open to experimentation. Why not mix up a basic muffin batter and let your children add what they like? Chocolate chips, raisins, shredded apple, crumbled bacon and cheese are all great options for tasty improvisation. Have some leftover applesauce? Use the banana muffin variation, but add applesauce, a pinch of cinnamon and raisins instead of banana and chocolate chips.

Muffins are best eaten hot, but they freeze well and can be microwaved for a quick mid-afternoon snack. Here are three variations, with the basic recipe as a starting point.

Basic Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
¼ cup oil
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 F degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups or use silicone or paper liners. Sift dry ingredients together in medium bowl. Form a well in the center of the flour mixture; set aside. Mix wet ingredients in separate bowl. Add to dry ingredients all at once. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir roughly 10 times — until just moistened. Spoon into prepared muffin cups. Bake 18-20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from muffin cups and serve warm.

Chocolate-Chip Banana Muffins: Reduce milk to 1/2 cup. Add 3/4 cup (about 2) mashed bananas with the liquid ingredients. Fold 1/2 cup chocolate chips into batter.

Cranberry Orange Muffins: Replace 2 teaspoons baking powder with 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Add zest of one orange to the flour mixture. Replace milk with orange juice. Fold into batter 1/2 cup chopped dried, sweetened cranberries, like Craisins.

Cornbread Muffins: Grease muffin cups with bacon fat or butter. Substitute 2 cups all-purpose flour for 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup cornmeal. Reduce sugar to 1/4 cup. Replace 2 teaspoons baking powder with 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Replace milk with buttermilk.

Instead of biscuits or dinner rolls, why not serve hot cornbread muffins with dinner?

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