A few years back, I decided that I wanted to be able to make perfect muffins, so I set out to find the perfect recipe. Now, if you have the same interest in very very good muffins [ok, perfect is such an obnoxious word], I am going to save you from the numerous recipes and trials and errors I went through to find this recipe, because I am going to give it to you right here, in this post.
The recipe I'll cite is a basic muffin recipe, which is fantastic, because you can flavor it with whatever the hell you want. I have yet to experiment with savory muffins, but I'm pretty sure it'll work with this recipe as well.
The way to incorporate flavors is very simple--if your flavoring is wet, add it to the wet ingredients first, and if it is dry, add it to the dry ingredients. This is very important, and is one of the secret to good muffins; keep the dry and wet ingredients completely separated until ready to combine, and then combine them altogether, in one go. This minimises mixing, which will ensure a tender muffin.
Another crucial element to this muffin recipe: only, and I mean ONLY, use self-rising flour. I know there will be times when you run out of self-rising flour, and this little voice inside you says that cookbooks insist plain flour + baking powder = self-rising flour, but I am begging you, do not succumb! I cannot say for other recipes, but this one needs self-rising flour. I have tried it with plain, and it is a sheer waste of food.
375g self-rising flour
90g melted butter/subtle vegetable oil [I find oil to be wayyy more convenient]
220g castor sugar
*in this case...
100g white chocolate chips
Place flour, sugar, chips and cranberries in large mixing bowl, mix well [in other words, all the dry ingredients together]. In another bowl, combine milk, egg and oil [all the wet ingredients]. Using a spoon, create a well in the middle of the flour mixture, large enough to hold the liquid mixture. Pour liquids into the well, and with a fork [I find this mixes the best, but use what you want], quickly incorporate the ingredients. The idea is NOT to achieve a smooth batter. It is simply to moisten all the dry ingredients and to ensure that all the liquids are taken into the flour. It is OK for the batter to be lumpy. I cannot emphasis this enough. I have to say, it can be hard to still the mixing hand, but try very hard =)
Dry and wet, separated.
Once all the ingredients have been incorporated, fill your muffin pan/cups just 3/4 of the way with the batter [it rises a lot] and bake at 180 degree celcius until a skewer inserted into the muffin comes out clean. If you see any bits of flour on the surface of the muffin, simply cover it up with a little batter. Don't worry, it will cook, its just that bits of flour on muffin surfaces are ugly =)
P.S. Yields 12 medium muffins.