A conversation with a colleague got us wondering how to make those large top, domed shape muffins we see in the delicious bakery counters. We both agree that the best part of the muffin is the muffin top. When eating a muffin, the most exciting moment is when you peel off the large, crunchy, muffin top to reveal its soft interior, and then taking a large bite out of its side.
Unfortunately, homemade recipes often produce small, squat muffins that do not have the overspilling tops that the bakeries have. Although these homemade muffins are cute (and are probably what original traditional muffins should be like), I still much prefer the large top ones. I promised her that I will find out how to make large top muffins, and I proceeded with my research and testing the moment I got home.
After some reading and testing, it seems that there are 5 main tips that help muffins to get large domed tops:
- Start with a higher oven temperature: Higher baking temperature helps the muffins top rise to result in a domed top. It will also give the top a good crunch. Pre-heat the oven to a higher temperature, and then once the muffins are in the oven, turn the temperature down immediately so that the muffins will start baking on high heat for the top, and gradually reduce to the lower heat to finish baking the centre.
- Even distribution of heat in the oven: Just like cakes, even distribution of heat in the oven will help the muffins rise evenly. If your oven has the convection setting, I suggest using it to ensure the heat is even throughout the oven.
- Even distribution of baking soda in the batter: I used to only briefly whisk the baking soda into the flour, thinking that it’s already well-incorporated (because both ingredients are white, so I can’t tell). Until one day I added cinnamon to the flour (which I can see because it is brown) and realized that I had to whisk the mixture very well for it to be even throughout. Therefore, for muffins, make sure the baking soda (the leavener) is thoroughly whisked in and evenly distributed.
- Overspill the dough in each muffin cup: Overspill the muffin tins. The muffin batter is very thick, so don’t be afraid that the batter will run off to the next cup in the muffin tin. I fill in only every other muffin tin to give each muffin some room.
- Avoid overmixing the batter: Avoid overmixing the batter, which develops too much gluten and prevents the muffins from rising.
This recipe can also be used to make 12 small homemade-sized muffins. But no one can keep me away from these little bakery giants with their large muffin tops.
BANANA NUT MUFFINS WITH LARGE TOPS (makes 5 large muffins)
- Large top muffins bake longer in the oven because there is more batter. I baked for 40-45 minutes
- This recipe can also be used to make 12 small homemade-sized muffins instead (if you prefer). If so, reduce the baking time to 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- If you have convection setting, use it, for the even heat distribution for the rising of the muffins
- You could omit the cinnamon, and/or substitute the banana and walnuts with any type of flavourings you prefer (e.g. chocolate, berries, nuts, etc.)
- Walnuts – 1 cup, toasted and chopped
- Brown sugar – 1/2 cup, packed
- Unsalted butter – 1 stick (or 113 grams), softened at room temperature
- 2 eggs
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
- All-purpose flour – 2 cups
- Baking powder – 2 tsp
- Cinnamon – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
- Milk – 1/2 cup
- 3 ripe bananas, chopped into small pieces
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. (Ideally on the convection setting. The even distribution of heat will help the muffins rise.)
- Butter 5 muffin cups of a muffin tin. Remember to butter the rims too, so that the overfilled dough of the muffin tops can be easily removed from the tin.
- In a mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the brown sugar and the softened butter until the mixture resembles fluffy frosting, about 1 minute. Switch to the beater attachment. Turn the mixer to medium speed and add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. (Alternatively, if you don’t have an electric mixer, you can use a large rubber spatula in place of the paddle attachment, and a whisk for the beater attachment, and mix the ingredients the same way by hand in a large mixing bowl).
- In another large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. With a whisk, whisk the mixture until all ingredients are well-incorporated. (Mix this mixture very well, to ensure that the baking powder is evenly distributed in the flour, because the leavener needs to be evenly distributed in the batter for the muffins to rise properly.)
- Change the attachment of the mixer back to the paddle attachment and turn it on at low speed. Add one-third of the flour mixture, and then one-third of the milk. Mix until the flour is just incorporated. Repeat until all flour mixture and milk have been added. (Do not overmix to avoid over-development of gluten, which prevents the muffins from rising.)
- Add the chopped bananas and nuts to the bowl. Remove the mixing bowl from the electric mixer. With a rubber spatula, fold the banana and nuts into the dough until just incorporated.
- With an ice-cream scoop, evenly distribute the dough into 5 muffin cups of the muffin tin. This is approximately 2 to 2 1/2 scoops per muffin cup.
- Place the muffin tin in the middle rack of the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 375°F. Bake for 20 minutes and then turn the heat down again to 325°F. Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes,. Do not open the oven at all during baking or else you will lose the heat in the oven, and the muffins will not rise properly. The muffins are done with the tops are browned and a bit hard, and when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffins comes out clean (except for some heated banana, which might stick a little on the toothpick.)
Alternative – Blueberry Lemon Muffins
You could also make blueberry lemon muffins with the same recipe, by replacing the banana and walnuts with 2 cups of fresh blueberries, and replacing the cinnamon with the lemon zest of 1 lemon.