Are you tired of watching all the chefs and authors inventing new recipes while you sit home on the couch? Have you always felt like there was a muffin in you, waiting to get out? (That sounds slightly painful). Well, wait no longer, because today’s the day that you, yes YOU, invent your own muffin!
Mark Bittman has a great Basic Muffin recipe in his authoritative landmark book, How to Cook Everything. It’s a brilliant recipe because it’s flexible from the start (allowing the cook to decide whether to use butter or oil, for instance), and then not only has a large number of variations, but a whole set of guidelines for thinking about how to adjust the recipe and make it your own. Savory cooking is a whole lot more forgiving than baking, which is a true blend of art and chemistry. And if you loose the balance of the ingredients, the chemistry doesn’t work, leaving you with occasionally disappointing results.
My younger son Charlie is a big time food inventor. A while ago he did in fact try to invent a muffin recipe completely from scratch and after keeping my bossy mother mouth shut while watching him reverse the proportions of baking soda and flour and gnawing our way through the results, I pointed him in the direction of Bittman’s recipe. The result was a batch of hearty pear muffins. Next time, a bit more sugar, but all in all, this was a muffin to be proud of.
By the way, I am starting to realize that if you read this blog with any regularity you may think that Charlie lives his entire life in pajamas. This is not entirely true. He is not allowed to wear them to school.
And there you have it. If you want to replicate Charlie’s pear muffins, just go to the Basic Muffins recipe. He went (mostly) with that recipe, with some give and take, and the additions of a mushed ripe pear, some cinnamon, a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and a teaspoon and a half of vanilla. The pajamas are optional.