Muffin clinic #2

Question: Why are these two muffins so different?
Answer: It was all in the mixing!

Two muffin batters were prepared using identical ingredients. Both batters were mixed with a metal spoon for just 20 seconds. However, one mixture was combined lightly, taking care not to overmix (top photo), while the other was stirred vigorously round and round, as if making a cake (bottom photo).

muffin good
muffin fail

Yes, the mixing technique can make that much difference!

When wheat flour becomes wet, the proteins start linking together to form what is called ‘gluten’. With stirring, these strands of gluten become increasingly elastic. This elasticity is desirable for bread-making but not for cakes and muffins. In sponge cakes, the high proportion of sugar and fat inhibits gluten development even though the batter is beaten. Authentic muffin batters, on the other hand, do not contain enough sugar and fat to inhibit gluten development. Instead, a light mixing technique must be used. For light texture and good structure, the final mixing must be kept to a minimum.

(Please also see the article “Cupcakes aren’t Muffins”.)