Like all quick breads, muffins assemble in minutes and bake in a few minutes more. Because of their size, they are the easiest and fastest of any bread to prepare. Muffins require about half the baking time of a quick-bread loaf because they are so much smaller. A standard muffin is 2 1/2 inches in diameter, while a mini muffin is a dainty 1 3/4 inches. Even though a recipe will specify the size of the muffin pans, muffin recipes can be interchangeable if you adjust the baking time. A recipe for 12 standard muffins will make about twice as many 1 3/4-inch muffins. In general, bake standard-size muffins for 20 minutes and mini muffins for about 12 minutes. Use heavyweight muffin pans that absorb and hold heat so that your muffins will rise higher and have better color.
Although muffins are fast to make, their preparation can be done in stages if time is at a premium. To put a basket of just-baked warm and fragrant muffins on the breakfast table, mix the dry and liquid ingredients the night before and store them separately. The next morning, combine them as directed in the recipe and bake. Or, prepare a make-ahead batter like Refrigerator Apple Muffins, or the bran muffins (see our recipes).
Spread a thin layer of vegetable shortening on the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of each mold with a soft pastry brush or a paper towel. Apply an even coat of shortening, but keep it almost translucent so the muffins finish crisp and brown, not gummy.
Pleated paper cups, available at any supermarket or cake decorating supply store, are an alternative to greasing. Press 1 cup in each mold. Donít worry if the empty cup doesnít sit all the way down; the batter will anchor it after it is filled.
Stirring till Moistened
Combine the liquid ingredients and pour into the well formed in the center of the dry ingredients. With a wooden spoon, stir all together just until the flour mixture is moistened (it will still be lumpy).