Recipe: No Measure Muffins

Think you can’t bake without measuring? Think again.

Confession: I love baked goods for breakfast. Problem: most of them are not very good for you. To solve this issue, I bake my own muffins and breakfast loaves—filled with good grains and fruit and not filled with a lot of sugar.

Now, I’m an experienced bread and cookie maker—but muffins (or cupcakes and cakes) were never my specialty. I found myself constantly reaching for the computer or my enormously heavy Joy of Cooking, because I could never remember all the proper measurements one needs to bake them. Exactly 1.5 teaspoons of this, exactly 3 eggs plus 1 egg white, and wait—how much butter again? You know what I’m talking about. The primary rule of baking is: You can’t bake without measuring.

It was with this ideology hammered into my brain over the years that I woke up one recent morning and went completely rogue. It was a Saturday, cold and grey. I really wanted warm, home-baked muffins and coffee for breakfast, and I was just too sleepy to care how I made them. I grabbed a bowl, a big mixing spoon, a regular old spoon, a jelly jar from the dish rack, and a bunch of ingredients from the pantry and fridge. Throwing everything in the bowl together using a one-part-this-two-parts-of-that strategy until the batter looked like it should, I poured the batter into the muffin tin and baked.

By the time my kids and hubby were yawning and stretching their way to the table, a pile of delicious healthy steamy muffins were waiting to be consumed. And they were consumed, and complimented, and no one was the wiser for how they came to be.

Everyone knows that experienced cooks often create incredible meals by simply eyeballing ingredients. A pinch of this, a handful of that, sweeten or spice “to taste.” But in using this approach for baking, you will face a world of criticism. So much so, that I decided the next time I made a zucchini or pumpkin bread, I’d do it again without recipe or proper measuring tools. And then I’d do it again. Winging it would become an Official Experiment.

Well, four batches of muffins and loaves later—each made with slightly different blends of flour and fruits—and I’m here to tell you, “Yes you can!”

Some tips:

  1. Be aware of the consistency of the batter as you make it (if it’s too runny or too thick, just adjust it).
  2. It’s better to add ingredients than to subtract (for this reason, add your dry ingredients to your wet).
  3. Cooking times may vary (but you know what? they do anyway, usually).
  4. Don’t worry if you can’t add all your dry ingredients, which includes your leavening agent, because that’s what eggs are for (and the eggs are part of the wet ingredients).
  5. Food Hack Daily has an amusing but handy visual chart for learning how much or how big (or small) a portion is. You can check it out here.

And now, the recipe.

No Measure Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 large drinking glass or medium mason jar of flour (whole grain wheat, almond, and spelt combined)
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 pats butter, melted
  • jelly jar of almond milk and apple juice combined
  • 1 spoon or large pinch of baking powder
  • 1 spoon or large pinch of baking soda
  • Several dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Dash of allspice
  • Handful of raw sugar
  • Handful of chopped apples
  • Small handful of dried cranberries or golden raisins

Directions:

  1. Mix everything together, dry ingredients into wet, until consistency is thick but not gloppy.
  2. Pour into greased muffin tins (or use cupcake papers).
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for around 20 minutes. Muffins are done when you press down on them and they bounce back.
  4. Let sit 5 minutes before popping them out of the tin. This same recipe can be used to make a 9 inch by 12 inch loaf.

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Erica-Lynn Huberty

Erica-Lynn Huberty grew up on the East End, and has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Sculpture Magazine and other publications. When not writing and making art, she can often be found in the garden growing good things to eat.