Basic Muffins

And here we go! The very first recipe! It’s a very simple recipe, with minimal ingredients – even the most lean pantry should have all of these on hand.

I have reproduced the recipe as written. Like all of the recipes in the book, there are not many instructions or details of the method to be used. Dorothy assumes that her readers know the basics of baking, because in her time everyone would have.

The recipe

Sift into bowl

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. white sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

In separate bowl

1 egg – beat slightly

1/2 c. milk

1/4 c. vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla* (optional; I added this after taste-testing)

Add wet to dry. Vary with fruit, nuts, chips, etc.

400F, 20 minutes. Makes 10 – 12.

The process

This is the easiest recipe ever. So easy in fact that it took less than ten minutes to produce the finished batter. As per Dorothy’s note to “vary” the recipe, I added half a cup of frozen wild Nova Scotia blueberries to the batter as a final step.

I don’t often bake with white flour and white sugar these days, so seeing that white batter with a faint yellow tint from the egg was actually almost jarring to me. I’m so used to whole wheat flour… and maybe some bran or wheat germ… this lovely clean batter reminded me of baking with my own grandmother when I was a kid.

It didn’t seem to make very much, and when I divided the batter into 12 standard-sized muffin cups, they seemed awfully small. This is almost certainly a commentary on 21st century portion sizes.

The results

The muffins were done perfectly after 20 minutes. They smelled great and looked tasty. They rose fairly evenly. And they taste good. The texture is nicely fluffy, light and airy. The blueberries add a bit of sweetness, and with no actual flavouring in the recipe – notice there is no vanilla, a rather strange omission – this is very welcome.

They are small to my spoiled, giant-retail-muffins eyes, but that’s actually a good thing; I feel like I’ve had a little treat, but I don’t feel guilty or like I’ve overdosed on carbs and sugar. I’m looking forward to letting the kids try them tomorrow.

With either chocolate or butterscotch chips, and maybe some frosting, these would be a great alternative to birthday cake.

Well done, Dorothy! I applaud your basic muffins. This is so simple and fast, I could throw these together for unexpected company and not even break a sweat. I will definitely be making these again.

Basic Muffins, with blueberries

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20 comments on “Basic Muffins

  1. Magpie says:

    I hope you’ll scan a few so we can see her handwriting! Also, the lack of vanilla doesn’t seem at all odd to me, in a muffin.

  2. beck says:

    Okay, I just made them – with chocolate chips – and they’re nice! Very small, as you said and sweetly cake-y. I found the amount of baking powder very funny – high amounts of it are common in older recipes and why the resulting muffins seem so delightfully light to us. We’re so used now to these giant, dense muffins that these felt so gently retro to me.

    What a fun blog idea, Hannah! I’m delighted with it.

    • Hannah says:

      Beck: I wondered about the baking powder too, but being a non-baker I wasn’t sure if it was actually a large amount. If that’s what makes a muffin taste like that, sign me up!

      Magpie: Great suggestion, thanks! I will definitely scan some of them – maybe some of the more complicated ones with lots of additional notations.

  3. Nicole says:

    Lovely new blog! I love the idea (movie, anyone?). I’m going to make these; I love to bake. No vanilla will be strange for me, usually I double or even triple the amount of vanilla in recipes. But I’m going to try this exactly as-is, maybe with some berries.

    • Hannah says:

      It killed me not to put vanilla in, because I’m like you, I always up the amount. And then add another splash for good measure. But you really don’t miss it. It’s like magic!

  4. Jada says:

    I will be watching eagerly for new things…I’ve been getting in the habit of cluster baking for the kids lunches, and muffins freeze well. The muffin portion issue is insane, and why we don’t realize that we just nommed 600 calories at Hortons! ALL HAIL THE TINY MUFFIN! 😀

    • Hannah says:

      I know, right? As I was spooning the batter into the cups I was thinking “good lord, these muffins are wee! They aren’t done growing yet!” – then I remembered that restaurant muffins are freakishly huge these days. I’m curious now to see if all the recipes make similar small muffins.

  5. Linda says:

    Love the recipe, two thumbs up,also love the history.
    Labor of love!

  6. anne says:

    I’m definitely going to be making these for the office when I head back (I’m on vacation now). I can’t wait to see the other recipes. I hope there’s a cheese muffin recipe. Please tell em there is. Mom had a great one, and we seem to have lost it because we’re horrible children 🙂

  7. Lisab says:

    I’ve just made a second batch Hannah! Not sure if it is the second try or that I did not double the recipe this time, but they are lovely. I agree with you and beck about the portion sizing and delightfully old fashionedness of these.

  8. […] both old friends and new readers! And I know several of you have baked your own batch of “Basic Muffins” for your […]

  9. […] convinced Ron that Dorothy’s Basic Muffins would do the trick, maybe with some carrot sticks and apple juice (because I had bought a dozen […]

  10. […] in and mix it by hand. Clean up was a breeze. For sheer ease of assembly, this reminds me of the Basic Muffins from week one. This took next to no time to throw […]

  11. […] easy. Easy like the classic Basic Muffins from week one. Chuck all ingredients into a small bowl, mix, done. No stand mixer or fiddling […]

  12. […] be baking much. Then school started and that was hectic. Then the kids announced they only wanted blueberry muffins, forever. We were tired of muffins! SO MANY […]

  13. […] immediate pan inversions. It seemed more like an upside down cake, in muffin form, and so I took Dorothy’s Basic Muffin, added some vanilla and a cup of frozen cherries and voila! Cherry muffins. They have been […]

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