How To "Fancy Up" Your Muffins

Much of the fun of baking is adding your own creative touch. Today we’ll share with you ways to "fancy up" your muffins. We’ll show you how to add a touch of orange to your muffins, put a fancy graham crumb topping on them, or top them with cream cheese. You can do this with most recipes of your choosing.

How to Make Orange Muffins

Pick a recipe that uses baking soda (or baking soda and baking powder) as a leavener. Baking soda is alkaline and needs an acid to complete the chemical reaction that causes the bubbles. Buttermilk is the acid most often used. Since orange juice is an acid, you can use that in place of buttermilk, so substitute orange juice for buttermilk in equal amounts. Orange juice alone is too sweet and mild to add much flavor so add a tablespoon of orange zest which carries much more flavor.

Add a streusel topping and include one tablespoon of orange zest in the streusel topping. Here is a streusel topping mix that works well:

Orange Nut Streusel Topping

1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoon orange zest (the zest from one large orange)
1 tablespoon cold butter

1. Chop the walnuts into small pieces.
2. Stir the walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest together.
3. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry knife or two table knives.
4. Spoon the streusel mixture over the muffin batter evenly before baking.

To Make Brown Sugar-Graham Topped Muffins

Use your favorite muffin recipe. Mix the muffins as called for in the recipe; you are only adding a topping. Here is the topping recipe.

Oat-Graham-Brown Sugar Topping

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 sheets of graham crackers, crushed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut in pieces

1. Mix the first four ingredients together.
2. Cut the butter in with a pastry knife.
3. Spoon on top of the muffins.
4. Bake as directed.

To Put a Cream Cheese Topping on Your Muffins

A cream cheese topping is unusual . . . and very good. Again, pick a favorite recipe and spoon on the topping before baking. Here is the recipe for the topping.

Cream Cheese Topping

8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar

Directions

1. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until soft
2. Add the other ingredients and continue beating until the mixture becomes soft and smooth.
3. Spoon the mixture over the top of the muffins.
4. Bake as directed. The topping will increase baking time by at least several minutes. Be sure and test the muffins for doneness with a toothpick inserted in the center of the largest muffin. If it does not come out clean, continue baking.

Copyright 2003-2007, The Prepared Pantry (http://www.prepraredpantry.com ). Published by permission

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About The Author, Dennis Weaver
Dennis Weaver is a baker, a recipe designer, and a writer. He has written many baking guides and How to Bake, a comprehensive baking and reference e-book--available free at The Prepared Pantry which sells baking and cooking supplies and has a free online baking library.