Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday of the year. It’s the only holiday that seems to exist for the sole purpose of bringing the family together over fantastic food. There’s no pressure of gifts, which makes it an easy-going holiday. Our family Thanksgiving is always held at my aunt and uncle’s house. They seem to have the space to accommodate a gathering of about anywhere between fourteen and twenty. We do a potluck style feast, which in my family, is a fantastic way of doing things as we have a family full of talented cooks, including my cousin who is one of the chefs and part owner of Sons & Daughters in San Francisco, recent winners of the Restaurant of the Year award for Eater SF.
This year, I was in charge of the bread. I thought the easy choice would be to bring Naan, as many of my family members enjoy our Indian cooking. However, I was inspired to try the muffin recipes I’ve had dog-eared in one of my favorite cookbooks “How To Cook Everything Vegetarian” by Mark Bittman. This book seems to be my go-to guide for breads. From biscuits to waffles and everything in between. One of the things I love about Bittman’s book is how he gives variations for almost every one of his recipes.
When looking up what muffins to make for example, you get the basic recipe of just flour, butter and a bit of sugar. But then he also gives you flavored muffins, such as pairing cinnamon with blueberry and lemon, or orange zest with cranberries. Prefer a light and fluffy muffin? There’s a variation for folding in whisked egg whites for a pillow-soft bite. If you need something denser and a bit sour, there are variations for yogurt and sour cream muffins.
It was hard to choose the right muffin to make and I was certainly tempted to try them all to find my favorite. However, I try to limit my all-out efforts to try every combination during recipe testing to only once a week and as I had just done this with my recent chocolate cake recipe, I decided to pick only one.
Cranberries seemed like a good idea for a Thanksgiving themed muffin, and the flavor in the yogurt muffins sounded alluring as well. However I ended up going with good ol’ plain muffins since it would make the best accompaniment for mopping up gravy and allowing the other flavors to shine.
These muffins are wonderfully easy. The batter takes less than ten minutes and though the recipe said to bake them for twenty to thirty minutes, mine were done in twenty and the second batch only took fifteen.
If you make these in regular sized muffin tins this recipe will get you anywhere between eight to twelve muffins, depending on how much you fill each of the tins. However, I think muffins can often be too large and sometimes people are shy about wanting to cut a muffin in half. Instead of making full sized muffins, I dug out my mother’s mini muffin tray. I borrowed this tiny tray about five months back, thinking it was just adorable. She’ll probably never see her mini tins again as I am now in love with mini baking. The petite size of these muffins is irresistible, only about three or four bites worth. Just enough to enjoy a treat without the guilt…especially if you’re dieting between the holidays.
These muffins are at their best when served straight out of the oven. They are slightly sweet but subtle. You can adjust the sugar to your own tastes as you like. I made a batch of 30 mini muffins the night before Thanksgiving and left them on the kitchen counter in an air tight container for safe keeping. When I awoke Thanksgiving morning, there were only three muffins left. It would have been wise to label them “Don’t Eat…for Thanksgiving”. But as they are so quick and easy, I whipped up another batch for the big dinner.
adapted from Mark Bittman’s “How To Cook Everything Vegetarian”
~ these basic muffins make the perfect edition to any meal~
Servings: 8 large muffins or 12 medium muffins. Makes 31 mini muffins.
- 10 minutes of prep
- 15-30 minutes baking depending on the size of the muffins (see instructions).
2 mixing bowls
a mixing spoon or rubber spatula
muffin pan or two ~ make mini muffins in 2 mini cupcake pans
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees F. Spray the muffin pan(s) with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Melt the butter on the stove over medium heat until it is completely liquid but does not turn brown.
3. Combine the 2 cups flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 3 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt in a bowl and stir to mix the ingredients together.
4. Whisk together the egg and 1 cup milk, then pour the melted butter into the egg and milk mixture and whisk.
5. Pour a third of the wet mixture into the dry mixture and gently stir till incorporated, making an effort not to over mix, which means stir the mixture only three or four times until the dry ingredients soak up most of the wet, then add another third of the wet mixture and repeat until all the wet mixture has been added. The mixture should come out lumpy and moist, dropping from the mixing spoon in thick globs. The lumpy mixture helps create a fluffy texture when the muffins are baked.
6. Spoon the batter into the muffins tins. Fill each tin 2/3 full. If there are any empty muffin tins, fill them 2/3 full with water. Bake for 20-30 minutes or if you are making mini muffins, only about 15-20 minutes. The muffins are done when you insert a toothpick into the center and it comes out clean.
7. Let cool in pan for only one minute and then turn onto a cooling rack.