I’ve gathered everything I know about muffins into this single recipe, which offers not just one, but three small victories. First, scooping the muffin batter into the tin using an ice cream scoop (the kind with a lever) means evenly sized muffins and no extra batter flinging itself onto the spaces between the muffin cups (you know, the bits that always burn and are a nag to get off). Second, tossing add-ins such as chopped apples with flour before stirring them into the batter keeps them from sinking to the bottom—think of the flour coating as a little raincoat (this goes for nuts and chocolate chips and other things like that, not only in muffins but also in cakes and loaves). Third, toasting oats before cooking them, even if just for oatmeal, adds an extra layer of nutty flavor—an ingenious tip that comes straight from my dear friend chef Jody Williams (of Buvettefame).
MAKES 12 MUFFINS
1/2 cup [50 g] rolled oats 11/2 cups [180 g] all-purpose flour,plus 2 Tbsp
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp kosher salt
A pinch of ground cloves
3/4 cup [150 g] sugar
1/2 cup [110 g] unsalted butter, melted and cooled 1/2 cup[120 ml] milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large apple (use whatever type you like for apple pie; I like Granny Smith, Fuji, or Gala apples best here), peeled, cored,and cut into small dice or coarsely grated 1/2 cup [70 g]golden or regular raisins.
Preheat your oven to 350°F [180°C]. Line a standard 12-wellmuffin tin with paper liners and set it aside.
Put the oats on a baking sheet and bake them, stirring them now and then, until they smell toasty and are golden brown,5 to 8 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the oats with the 11/2 cups [180 g]flour and whisk in the baking powder, baking soda,cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves. Add the sugar, butter,milk, egg, and vanilla and stir to combine.
Toss the diced apple with the raisins and remaining 2 Tbsp flour so that each piece is coated, then gently stir into the batter.
Use an ice-cream scoop to distribute the batter evenly among the prepared muffin wells.
Bake the muffins until they’re nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean,25 to 30 minutes. Let the muffins cool before eating.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Split and toast under the broiler or in a toaster oven to refresh.
FOR BANANA AND WALNUT (AND CHOCOLATE)MUFFINS, mash two very ripe (i.e., covered with dark freckles) peeled bananas with a fork or a potato masher so that they’re basically a puree and substitute that for the chopped apples and raisins. Add the mashed bananas with the milk. After mixing the batter, fold in a handful of roughly chopped walnuts (and chocolate chips), tossed with 2 Tbsp flour.
FOR ZUCCHINI AND PECAN MUFFINS, coarsely grate a large zucchini and wrap it in a clean dishcloth. Twist the dishcloth to squeeze out excess liquid and then fold the zucchini into the batter. Leave out the chopped apple sand raisins. After mixing the batter, fold in a handful of roughly chopped pecans, tossed with 2 Tbsp flour.
FOR GLUTEN-FREE MUFFINS, use gluten-free oats and flour (plus 1 tsp xanthan gum if the flour doesn’t already have it).
FOR DAIRY-FREE MUFFINS, use almond or rice milk instead of cow’s milk and olive oil instead of butter.