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Essential Equipment for Making Muffins

Essential Equipment for Making Muffins
Indispensable mixing tools for making muffins include wooden spoons and large metal whisks. Flat and curved rubber spatulas in large and small sizes are also handy. Large spatulas are for scraping and for efficiently folding fruits, nuts and other additions into batters. Small spatulas are useful for cleaning the beaters of an electric mixer and for smoothing the surface of batters after pouring into a pan.

Using the correct pan size is essential. An overfull pan will cause batter to drip over the sides during baking; an underfilled pan will result in unattractive flat-topped muffins and breads. The recipe will specify the pan required and the amount of batter to be placed in it, depending on the viscosity of the batter and how much it will expand during baking.

Recipes for standard muffins can easily be adapted for baking in jumbo or miniature muffin cups by adjusting the baking time: Bake jumbo muffins for 8 to 12 minutes longer than specified in a recipe; bake miniature muffins for 5 to 7 minutes less.

Use toothpicks to test the interior of a muffin or other quick bread. Wire racks are essential for cooling breads in their pans and after unmolding. A small metal spatula is good for coaxing baked muffins from pans.

Preparing Pans
Grease baking pans on the sides and bottoms with butter or oil. The best oil is the one called for in the recipe or a mild oil that will not clash with the other flavors. Butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray is indispensable for evenly greasing muffin cups and other baking pans. Lightly greasing even nonstick pans guarantees that breads can be effortlessly unmolded.

Some recipes call for both greasing and flouring a pan before the batter is added. After coating the pan lightly with oil or butter, add a spoonful of flour, then shake and tilt the pan to distribute the flour evenly. Tap out any excess flour.

If a recipe makes fewer muffins than the number of cups in the pan, fill the empty cups one-third full with water to prevent the pan from buckling in the oven.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Muffins, by Beth Hensperger (Simon & Schuster, 2003).