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May 9, 2011 1:03 PM   Subscribe

MuffinFilter: How do I make a muffin that stays moist?

I've begun baking muffins, but I find that they tend to be rather dry by the next day. This is regardless of whether I use butter or oil, and what type of liquid I use. The only muffins I've made that haven't been rather dry by the next day have been zucchini muffins.

What can I do to ensure moisture in my muffins for at least 24 hours? Do I need to add more liquid? A different liquid? More oil? Use almond flour?

Links to moist muffin recipes are welcome, but I'd really like to know the mechanics of muffins.
posted by Logic Sheep to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
How are you storing them?
posted by hermitosis at 1:04 PM on May 9, 2011

I have no idea why, but I've found that cakes and muffins with fresh fruit (or veggies, in the case of zucchini) often stay moist for the longest. And they are sometimes even better on the second day.
posted by monkeys with typewriters at 1:09 PM on May 9, 2011

It's reasonably hard to make dry banana muffins. For sweet muffins, you could add a touch of banana to the mixture.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:10 PM on May 9, 2011

Response by poster: I've been storing them in ziplock bags at room temperature.
posted by Logic Sheep at 1:11 PM on May 9, 2011

Bananas. Of all the muffin recipes I've tried, those with mashed bananas in the mix always prove to be deliciously moist, and they also STAY moist for a couple of days when stored in a sealed container.

And thanks to the Queensland floods, bananas are now $15 a kilo. My kids' lunchboxes are bereft.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 1:12 PM on May 9, 2011

More/some of any of the following:

posted by phunniemee at 1:12 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

From the Joy of Cooking's section on muffins:

"The richer and sweeter the muffin, the longer it stays moist. Reduced-fat muffins and muffins that contain only 4 T. or less butter or oil are best consumed freshly baked or as soon as possible, for they go stale quickly." Their recipe for Basic Muffins with Milk or Cream calls for 4 to 8 T. butter or oil, depending on if the muffins are to be consumed immediately or made hours or even a day ahead.
posted by Majorita at 1:13 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Last week, a professional baker related to me the secret why they use so much sugar in baked goods: To keep things moist and on the shelf — sellable — longer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:32 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I use applesauce.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:35 PM on May 9, 2011

Sour cream.
posted by nicwolff at 1:37 PM on May 9, 2011

Avoid overbaking. Also avoid using too much egg white.
posted by jon1270 at 1:38 PM on May 9, 2011

Per Ellie Won of KitchenWench fame:

"To keep cupcakes wonderfully moist and extend their life by a few days, boil the 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar together till the sugar has completely dissolved, then boil for another 2-3 minutes. Brush it over the top of the cupcakes as soon as they are out of the oven so the liquid is completely absorbed by the cupcakes.

This is also a great way of rescuing overbaked cupcakes – though if they’re overbaked, I’d recommend brushing them with sugar syrup twice to ensure the cupcakes take in the moisture they need."

Might apply to sweet muffins. :)

It's also possible that the ratio of dry to wet ingredients in your muffins is off.
posted by patronuscharms at 1:43 PM on May 9, 2011

Are you using a lot of dry ingredients? Dried fruit, oats, or even really absorbent flour can use up more liquid than the recipe is really geared for. I usually soak dried ingredients before adding them.
posted by Frowner at 1:45 PM on May 9, 2011

Odd as it may sound Mayonnaise works very well at adding moisture as the oil is already emulsified. If you do a quick search you will find many recipes that use it to retain moisture.
posted by Virtblue at 2:39 PM on May 9, 2011

Substituting applesauce for half the butter makes a serious fluffy and moist cupcake/muffin!
posted by fuzzysoft at 3:23 PM on May 9, 2011

Look for recipes containing carrot, zucchini, beetroot, banana, apple sauce, or yoghurt; they to produce very moist muffins.
posted by hot soup girl at 3:38 PM on May 9, 2011

I find my baked goods stay moister when I use coconut oil instead of butter. Bonus, it's healthier.
posted by 6:1 at 3:57 PM on May 9, 2011

The people talking about sugar are spot on. Sugar retains moisture beautifully. Corn syrup is really good at keeping baked goods tasting fresh and moist. Also, fat will make a baked good taste fresh and seem moist. Of course, if you start with a dry muffin, it will stay that way, so, make sure your recipe produces a muffin that tastes moist after it has initially cooled out of the oven. If you are baking muffins high in fiber, that fiber may be sucking up more moisture than the recipe developer planned on.

My suggestions, add a little more liquid and a little more sweetener.
posted by Foam Pants at 5:04 PM on May 9, 2011

I just made huckleberry muffins with no oil or butter and substituting one cup applesauce for one cup milk. No sweetener. They were good and moist the next day. I was really surprised that omitting the oil seemed to make no difference (to me).
posted by cda at 5:58 PM on May 9, 2011

Try substituting honey for some of the sugar called for. Honey is very hygroscopic and will hold on to moisture better than the sugar will normally.
posted by borkencode at 7:32 PM on May 9, 2011

Molasses also works as a sugar substitute, as borkencode mentions. It imparts a flavor which you might find to be a bonus (or not)
posted by rmless at 9:27 PM on May 9, 2011

Storing them differently may be what you're looking for, if you're happy with your recipes.

If you store them after they've cooled in a tin, or Tupperware-type container, with a layer of parchment or waxed paper between the layers, or on top, with a slice of bread above that (cheap, spongy sliced white bread loaf works best - but we don't eat that very often, so I'll use whatever's around like a pita or naan but I'll buy a loaf around the holidays if I have a lot of cookies to keep soft) they'll stay moist by absorbing the moisture from the bread. I've also used apple slices for short-term storage for apple-based recipes, but plain old bread seems to work best. You can remove the stale piece and add a fresh one as needed. Whatever you use shouldn't come in contact with your muffins, or the muffins will get soggy. I have not tried a moistened paper towel or anything like that - though it might be worth experimenting.

I think what you're experiencing is that Ziplock bags are selectively permeable membranes - so they're porous, and not as air-tight as other containers. The moisture is leaving your muffins via that route; it's not that your muffins aren't moist enough to begin with, right?
posted by peagood at 7:53 AM on May 10, 2011

Also, I know that plastic storage containers (or the glass ones with plastic lids) are also not completely airtight, but are better than ziplocks. Tins do seem to work best - I use vintage canisters, re-use cookie tins and sometimes coffee cans.
posted by peagood at 8:03 AM on May 10, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you all for the suggestions! I'll try the ingredient variants with the muffins I have trouble with on the first day, and the storage tips with the others!
posted by Logic Sheep at 7:23 PM on May 12, 2011

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