best muffin recipe only ever need

I am not often given to hyperbole (or to preciously placing a single muffin on a china saucer…see below…), which tells you just how highly I think of this recipe. From the first time I made it at a bakery in Brooklyn, I knew it was something special: easy, adaptable, foolproof…and it adheres to my sense of kitchen economy because it doesn’t call for a surfeit of rich or pricey ingredients. And it’s still better than most every other muffin recipe I’ve tried.

I’ve fiddled with the recipe over the years, whittling it down from the 6-dozen bakery batch to a manageable 12-muffin yield, switching out the original sour cream for buttermilk (or any other slightly soured dairy or non-dairy substitute that I happen to have on hand), adding flavorings like lemon zest (for fruit) and vanilla (for chocolate), and baking it in every other shape imaginable from large, flat rectangles that could be cut into petits-fours to mini-madeleines. The only time the recipe didn’t work was when I forgot to add the sugar. (That’s what happens when you make a recipe really often. You get cocky. And careless.)

I made these muffins with diced fresh apricots (it’s high apricot season in France), but you could use any summer fruit that you like or that looks good when you go shopping.

The Only Muffin Recipe You Will Ever Need

These muffins come out especially tender when they’re made with ripe, juicy summer fruits, so I recommend carefully loosening and unmolding them with a small metal spatula, then cooling them upside down on a baking rack so they retain their shape.

1 2/3 (250 g) cup all-purpose flour
2/3 (150 g.) cup cane or granulated sugar
2 tsp. (10 g.) baking powder
1/2 tsp. (2 g.)  baking soda
1/4 tsp. (1 g.) salt
zest of 1/2 lemon, optional
2/3 cup (160 ml.) buttermilk, sour cream, full-fat yogurt, or half milk, half yogurt or crème fraîche
2 eggs
2 oz. (60 g) melted butter
1 to 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh fruit – (cut into about 1/2-inch pieces or smaller if not using berries)

Preheat the oven to 350˚F/180˚C, and coat 12-muffin pan with cooking spray.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and lemon zest (if using) in large bowl.
Whisk together the buttermilk (or other dairy option) and eggs in separate medium bowl.
Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a spatula or wooden spoon. Fold in melted butter, then fruit.
Fill each muffin cup with heaping 1/2 cup muffin batter using a 1/2-cup ice cream scoop, if possible.
Bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick or the tip of a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, and the muffins are golden brown.
Cool the muffins in the tin 5 minutes, then unmold them onto a wire rack, and cool completely. Makes 12 muffins

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