I’m not sure when muffins went from cute little breakfast foods to snacks the size of a softball, from tide-me-overs to fill-me-ups — and became as caloric as chips and dips. I also don’t know when they got super-sweet. And if I sound like a muffin meanie, I guess I am: I like muffins small; only just sweet enough; and chock-full of stuff that makes them interesting. A good muffin should be unpredictable; you should like it at first bite, and then each bite after should be just as likeable, but slightly different.
Then there’s the coconut oil. Having discovered how good organic coconut oil is as a moisturizer — yes, this is a full-service column; you get both food and beauty advice — I’m finding ways to incorporate it into my cooking and baking. I don’t think it’s right in every recipe, but in this muffin, where melted butter would have been my usual choice, the coconut oil is terrific. Some friends of mine have said that they don’t use coconut oil very often because they find that the flavor overwhelms many foods. I’ve yet to come up against the problem, perhaps because I’m not a constant user or because I don’t use great quantities of it, but if you could taste it in these muffins, you’d like it: Coconut would be good here. (And you might want to think of it when you’re switching up the add-ins.)
As unusual as these are, they’re put together in standard muffinmaking fashion; that is, you whisk all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, and you whisk all the wet ingredients together, too. You pour the wet stuff over the dry, and then you mix, neither energetically nor with the idea that you’ll get a perfectly smooth blend; you won’t, and you don’t even want it. It’s okay if there are a few lumps, and it’s even okay if there are a couple of dry spots. Because of the leavenings and the buttermilk, the batter might start to bubble almost as soon as it’s mixed. That’s fine, but it’s a sign that you don’t want to dawdle between finishing up the mixing and getting the muffins into the oven. (The bubbles are the double-acting baking powder letting off its first salvo of puff power; the second comes when the batter is heated.) Stir in the add-ins, divide the batter among the muffin wells and send them ovenward.
These are at their best shortly after they’re baked. They’ll hold, but their texture will get heavier. Your choices: Freeze the leftovers. Or cut them in half and toast them; and slather them with butter; and maybe add some jam. Bet you can tell that I’m on Team Toaster.
Photo by Deb Lindsey. This story appeared in my Everyday Dorie column in Washington Post Food