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Recipe: Easy homemade muffin mix allows for endless improvisation

  • TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
                                A muffin topped with toasted coconut is just one version of many that can be made with a single base mix.

    TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

    A muffin topped with toasted coconut is just one version of many that can be made with a single base mix.

If your morning routine includes a coffee shop stop to grab joe and a muffin, you need this recipe.

If your dinner menu’s looking a little uninspired, you also need this recipe.

Here is a way for you to have your muffin and eat it, too — any time of day, any way you want it. It’ll help your wallet, too.

Whether you want sweet, chockablock with fruit and nuts, or savory, redolent with cheese, chilies or other savory ingredients, this baking mix lets you have muffins in minutes.

The mix is also a boon to have on hand for last-minute baking tasks, such as when your child informs you at 9 p.m. that tomorrow is her day to take a treat to school, or when friends pop by unexpectedly.

Store the mix at room temperature and make up a batch whenever you have a few minutes. Then freeze the cooled muffins in individual portions for quick grab-and-go snacks. It’s better to freeze the baked muffins than to freeze the batter.

Having the mix on hand allows for easy improvisation. Add a little vanilla if you’re going for sweet muffins. Top the muffins before baking with a simple streusel of 3 tablespoons flour, 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons softened butter, if you like. Or, while the muffins bake, make a simple glaze or icing from powdered sugar, milk and vanilla to gild them when they’ve cooled.

SWEET ADD-IN COMBINATIONS

>> 3/4 cup toasted coconut, 3/4 cup diced pineapple and 1 tablespoon rum extract

>> 3/4 cup diced apple or pear and 3/4 cup chopped dates

>> 1 cup peanut butter chips, 1/4 cup powdered peanut butter and 1/4 cup cocoa

>> 3/4 cup mashed banana and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

>> 1 cup mashed pumpkin or butternut squash, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 teaspoon each of nutmeg and ginger

>> 1 cup fresh blueberries (toss these with the dry ingredients so they don’t sink to the bottom of the muffins) and 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

SAVORY SUGGESTIONS

Savory muffins match up well with simple suppers of soup, stew or chili.

>> 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar and 1/4 cup diced roasted chilies or 1 tablespoon chili powder plus 2 teaspoons cumin

>> 1 cup diced brie (rind removed) and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

>> 1 cup thawed frozen chopped spinach, 1/2 cup crumbled feta, 2 teaspoons dried oregano and 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

>> 3/4 cup diced ham, 3/4 cup diced Swiss or Emmenthal cheese and 1 teaspoon dry cayenne pepper

>> 3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, 3/4 cup crumbled (cooked) bacon and 2 teaspoons sage

>> 1/2 cup pesto, 3/4 cup pine nuts and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (sprinkle some of the cheese on top of each muffin before baking)

THE BAKING instructions for these muffins are a little unusual: If you put the muffins into a hot oven for a short time, they rise higher and look better. Reducing the temp for the final few minutes lets them continue to cook through.

MULTIPLE MUFFIN MIX

  • >> Baking mix:
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour or cornmeal, spooned into measuring cup and leveled
  • 3 cups sugar: any combination of firmly packed brown sugar OR white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • >> For each batch of 6 large or 12 regular muffins:
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup oil: melted coconut oil, canola oil OR vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla, for sweet muffins (optional)
  • 2-3/4 cups baking mix (see above)

>> Add-ins: up to 1-1/2 cups any combination of fruit, vegetables, grated or diced cheese, baking chips, nuts or toasted coconut

Combine baking mix ingredients in large bowl; whisk so ingredients are evenly mixed.

Measure out 2-3/4 cup portions for storage in quart canning jars or zip-close bags. Store at room temperature several months.

>> To make muffins: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper liners.

Combine egg, milk and oil in large bowl. Whisk to combine well. Add baking mix and your choice of add-ins; combine with 15 to 20 strokes. Do not overmix; streaks of white will show and batter will be lumpy.

Fill muffin cups three-quarters full with batter. Bake 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 8 to 11 minutes more for regular-sized muffins, or 15 to 20 minutes more for large muffins.

Cool in pan 10 minutes, then transfer muffins to a rack to finish cooling.

Muffins may be individually frozen on a baking pan before transferring to zip-close bags for storage up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature or microwave about a minute.

Muffin mix makes 4 batches, about 36 large or 48 small muffins.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 221 calories, 10 g total fat, 8 g saturated fat, 17 mg cholesterol, 30 g carbohydrate, 14 g sugar, 3 g protein, 204 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.

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