Before making the dough, be sure all the ingredients are at room temperature. This insures that all the ingredients mix together evenly.

Mixing

The number one rule when making muffins is not to over mix the batter, which changes the texture and can keep them from rising the way they should. It also can make them dry and not soft the way you want them to be. The best way to prevent this is to mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls, and then gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing just enough so everything is moist. This should only take a few seconds. One way to be sure it blends together without too much mixing is to make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it, mixing as little as possible. Don't try to get rid of small lumps - they are normal.

Additions

Now is the time to add almost anything you want to give your muffins a special flavor, both sweet and savory. Cut up canned fruits into the wet ingredients, or add diced bacon, chocolate chips, nuts, or cut up fresh fruits after stirring the wet and dry ingredients together. One more gentle stir and the batter is ready.

Baking

Lightly spray the pan with cooking spray and put liners in the cups. Spraying the whole top pf the pan will make it easier to get the muffins out if there is any spillage. Place the rack in the middle of the oven. It's usually best to fill the cups just two-thirds full unless you want to make them larger. If you do, you may not have enough batter to fill all the cups. Be sure to put a small amount of water in the empty cups so the pan doesn't burn and keep the muffins from cooking evenly. Another trick that makes for the best distribution of heat is to leave the cups in the middle of the pan empty when you are not filling all of them. Let the muffins cool for a few minutes before you take them out of the pan.

Storing

They will stay fresh at room temperature up to three days, or in the refrigerator for a week, if they are kept in an airtight container. After that they can be frozen in plastic freezer wrap for up to three months.

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