Forty Cent Muffins That Taste Like A Million Bucks

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Chocolate-chip, dried cherry muffins.

 

Muffins – quick to make, easy to pack or eat on the go; What’s not to love? Maybe the fact that they’re the biggest cash grab for fast food chains, cafés and groceries. If you buy them in bulk, sure, you may save more money than picking up a fresh one every morning at the local coffee stand. Even if they’re stored in the freezer to prevent staleness, you’re likely still stuck with one batch of a dozen-plus muffins in the same flavour.

What if I told you there’s a way to save money, make it healthy(ish) and not suffer from Flavour Boredom?

Here’s the punchline: They’re cheaper than store-bought muffins, too! Here’s the breakdown:

At date of publication, the cost of a dozen muffins from Metro comes to: $4.99 for a package of six muffins. That’s $10 for a full dozen, and they contain preservatives, additives and some ingredients that may just not be the freshest. Depending on the size of your bulk ingredients purchase, you can make each muffin for as low as 40 cents each, if not less.

Think about it: A ten kilogram bag costs anywhere from $8 to $12 dollars, and if you’re using simple syrup instead of maple syrup, you reduce the cost further.  It only gets expensive once you’ll start adding posh ingredients (and if you’re buying in bulk, you might not even get too shocking a price.)

I promise you that it takes fifteen minutes to assemble, and cooking time is only 20 minutes on my slow oven.

Fast preparation, no appliances and the closest thing to high technology in this recipe may be the Silpat muffin molds.

(If you don’t have a silicon muffin mold, this still works for people using paper cupcake/muffin liners and metal pans.)

  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Maple syrup, table syrup* or simple syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil (or canola oil, or grape seed oil. Basically, any oil except olive oil or diesel fuel will do.)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Dried fruit, chocolate chips, nuts.

First, turn your oven on to 350F if you’re using Silpat/silicone muffin molds. If not, set the oven to 375 for metal pans, but line them with paper cups, first. You’ll want the oven good and hot while mixing the batter. Pour the flour in to a large bowl, and add your baking soda and baking powder. Feeling fancy? Grate some lemon or orange zest into it, but if you don’t have any, don’t worry about it. Stir it all up.

If you have a large measuring cup, pour your water, vanilla, vegetable oil and syrup all in to it. If you don’t have maple syrup, and making simple syrup sounds like wasting time you don’t have, go with table syrup. Pour it all in to the dry mixture and stir. It may seem runny at first, but it thickens with time. Here’s the trick to making really moist whole wheat muffins: Let the batter sit for at least 10 minutes. (If you’re pressed for time, don’t panic. They’ll still turn out fine.)

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Plain whole wheat muffin on the left, and chocolate chip muffin on the right. Other flavours in the cups included dried cherry, cherry-chocolate and blueberry.

 

Here’s where the fun begins. Fill your muffin cups halfway with batter. Then, add a tablespoon of whatever filling you like. You want blueberry muffins? Dump in enough berries to make the batter rise to the 2/3 full mark. (They need room to rise without overflowing.)

Here are some great flavour combos:

  • Chocolate chips and dried cherries
  • Dried cranberries and candied lemon peel
  • Walnuts and dried apricots
  • Blueberries and sliced blanched almonds (who keeps that in their cupboards?)
  • Sliced up fruit or leftover fruit cocktail.

Make two or three cups the same flavour, that way throughout the week, you’ll be guaranteed a change in muffin. If you really don’t have time for diddling around with all the varieties, stirring them individually in to cups, I don’t blame you. Just dump it all into your bowl and stir with your spoon until it’s all incorporated. Use a ladle, and pour your mix into the muffin tins.

Bake it all for 20 minutes but check on them; if they don’t bounce when tapped lightly then put them in the oven for another few minutes.

*Personally, I try to stay away from HGFCS (High Glucose-Fructose Corn Syrup) for numerous reasons, but if you want to try it on this recipe, go ahead, and post your results. We’re aiming for a low-cost and portable breakfast, so if a bottle of pancake syrup works, go for it.

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