Thursday, May 26, 2011

No Muffin Cups for Me!

I don't know when I gave up on muffin cups (aka cupcake liners). Must be at least 15 years ago now.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against them. Except that I was always running out of them in the middle of a batch of something, and they were expensive, and half the muffin (or cupcake) seemed to stick to the sides of the liner instead of being available for MY insides. And while it can be rather fun to scrape the crumbs off the liner with one's teeth, the procedure lacks dignity.

So I started using parchment paper instead. This is what I like to do:

Tear off a strip about 4" wide...

Fold in half repeatedly (lengthwise and widthwise)
until you end up with this ~ roughly 2" square

With good sharp scissors, cut around the edges
to make a squarish sort of circle, and...

Voilà! 16 little liners.

Just drop them in.  (No need to grease the pan.)
It's okay if they don't perfectly cover the bottom.
Add batter as usual.

I run a thin flat spatula around the sides when finished baking.
(Raspberry chocolate chip oatmeal muffins.
I could hear you wondering.)

The paper peels right off.  These muffins came out with nice crusty sides
due to the baking time. (I like them that way.)
Cupcakes won't get this crusty.

The extras go into a little snap-top plastic container.

After a few batches, I have enough extras on hand that I don't need to cut any for a time or two.  (When I'm feeling very ambitious and organized, I cut up a supply in advance.)

I did a bit of quick calculating, and here are some numbers if you're interested in a cost comparison:

Parchment Paper:  I pay about $3 - $3.50 for a 24-foot roll at the grocery store. An entire roll would yield 1152 standard-size liners. Let's round up the cost and round down the yield:  say $3.50 for 1000.

Muffin Cups: On Amazon, Wilton Standard White Baking Cups cost $3.38 for 75.

It may not be as pretty as the liners, but I think the parchment is a much better deal for everyday use.

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  1. I might try this just beacause I like crusty cake edges.

    As regards North and South, I would watch the mini series first - I was glad I'd left a couple of years between reading the book and my first viewing as I wasn't then tortured by all the differences (being a bit of a stickler for such things myself). There are a couple of big changes you will notice, one of them being the ending which is perhaps not appropriate but is entirely forgiveable in my opinion. I will say no more as I don't want to spoil it for you but would be interested to hear your views once you've seen it. I'm now looking forward to re-reading the book having seen the mini series. I hope you enjoy it!


  2. you are a freakin genius - i wonder if this would work at the bottom of a bread pan too? I love making bread from scratch.

    p.s. how do you make muffins not wind up rubbery? is it the recipes I keep choosing? and do you, by any chance, have a lemon poppy seed muffin recipe?

  3. Anne - thanks! I'll check it out.

    Ashley - thank you too! Yes, you could use parchment at the bottom of a bread pan. I've done it before. For yeast bread, grease the sides of the pan. For quick breads, no need to grease. Just run a spatula around the sides when done baking and cooling.

    I like to bake my yeast bread in freeform loaves on a Silpat - a silicone sheet pan liner.

    Just be aware that if you use parchment under yeast dough, it will crinkle up a bit as the dough expands and rises. No big deal.

    As to rubbery muffins - I'd have to see the recipe. My muffins are what I'd call slightly "shaggy" in texture because I use brown sugar, part whole wheat flour, and usually throw in some old-fashioned oatmeal for extra fiber. This gives a coarser crumb and texture but we like them that way.

    Are you using a mixer for your muffin batter? If so you could be over-developing the gluten in the flour which would give you a tough muffin. Just use a fork to mix the muffin dough. A few lumps are okay.

    You could try using cake flour which has less protein and produces a more tender crumb.

    Are your muffins low-fat or fat-free? This could also affect the texture. I love butter and olive oil for baking. Fat helps to coat the flour grains, protecting them from overdevelopment of gluten. Plus fat makes things taste great. All my muffins are made with bulk extra virgin olive oil.

    Real sugar is also important for good structure and a tender crumb.

    I don't have a specific lemon poppy seed muffin recipe. I use a very plain, very basic muffin recipe from an old cookbook, and just add whatever ingredients I want for different flavoured muffins. (My muffins aren't huge and really sweet like boughten muffins.)

    For lemon poppy seed, I would use lemon zest, some lemon juice as part of the liquid, replace some of the baking powder with baking soda because of the acid in the juice, and throw in poppy seeds.

    I'll poke around the internet after posting this answer, and if I see any likely recipes I'll post links below. Good luck!

  4. Ashley - this one looks like it might be good. Nice and straightforward. I would just use plain yoghurt and not worry about lemon yoghurt.

    Here's a slightly fussier one that uses butter and involves a mixer. Probably yields a very cake-like muffin:

    Again, good luck!

  5. those muffins look de-licious!

  6. This is the perfect day to bake some muffins. Thanks for the tip. I will use it in school too as muffin cups are very expensive (and seldom fit into the can).

  7. Muffins posted here looks very delicious. I'm now looking forward to the recipe of these muffins.

  8. Would this work with a mini cheese cake (graham cracker crust) in a muffin tin? I don't want all those crinkley edges that the paper liners create,

    1. I think so - but you might have to run a very thin flexible spatula (like a palette knife) around the edge of each cheesecake to release it, if the filling has stuck to the sides of the cups. I think you could butter the sides, or spray them with cooking spray. Good luck!

      P.S. I know what you mean about the crinkley edges - they're quite annoying! :)

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