3-1/3 cups flour (regular, not self-rising)
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-6 teaspoons spices (optional)
1-1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
2 cups mashed stuff
2 sticks (1 cup) margarine or butter, melted
1 cup nuts (optional)
1/2 to 1 cup dried fruit (optional)
You'll need two big bowls. I mix the dry ingredients in the big plastic bowl we use for big batches of popcorn. I mix the wet ingredients in the largest glass mixing bowl from a set of three mixing bowls.
You'll also need two 12-cup muffin tins, lined with muffin papers or else greased (and maybe floured? I don't know, because I always use muffin papers in spite of Alton Brown's "We're not making CUPCAKES" stinging in my ears). I also use a mini-muffin pan for any extra batter, and then I put three mini muffins per small ziploc and put them in the freezer to use as lunchbox snacks.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the dry stuff in the dry bowl and the wet stuff in the wet bowl, and then add the wet bowl to the dry bowl. You can also do it the other way around, which makes clean-up easier because then only one bowl is covered in muffin batter, and the other just needs the dust rinsed out. But if you want to do it that way, switch your bowls: use the bigger bowl for wet ingredients and the smaller one for dry.
Fill the muffin cups about 3/4ths full (or use a disher---Paul gave me this one as a gift and it IMPROVED THE QUALITY OF MY LIFE). Distribute extra batter evenly among the cups, or use it to fill the mini-muffin cups about 3/4ths full. Bake for 20-25 minutes (in my oven, 23 minutes is perfect); if you have mini muffins to bake, put them in when there are 13 minutes left on the timer. It takes me about 10 minutes to do the dishes, so I put the muffins in, then wash up, then put in the mini muffins.
Now! Variations! The kids' favorite, and so the one I make most often is chocolate chip. I've used chocolate chips and chocolate chunks successfully, but my current favorite is to use mini chocolate chips: it fools my
When I make chocolate chip muffins, I use mashed banana and/or canned pumpkin for the "2 cups mashed stuff." The smaller (1-pie, I think it's 15 ounces) can of pumpkin is close enough to 2 cups (it's a little skimpy, so if a kid abandons half a banana at breakfast you can add that in too), or you can scoop 2 cups out of the larger-sized can and freeze the rest in 1- or 1/2-cup baggies/containers (if you use thawed frozen pumpkin later, put it in the microwave with the butter/margarine you're melting, to improve the texture/stirability of the pumpkin). Two bananas are roughly 1 cup, so you can use 4 bananas, or you can use 2 bananas and 1 cup pumpkin, or you can use 1 banana and 1-1/2 cups pumpkin, or you get the idea. I base it on how the bananas are doing that day, because it's such a good way to use up browning bananas---but I prefer the pumpkin for nutrition.
Where was I? Oh, yes! So for Chocolate Chip muffins, I use banana and/or pumpkin. For spices I use 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, which keeps the non-chocolate muffin material from being too bland, but isn't enough cinnamon to make them assert a cinnamon flavor. I use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and I don't use any nuts or fruit.
Another favorite is Pumpkin Spice muffins. In that case I generally use all pumpkin, but it's still fine to use all/some banana. For spices I use 3 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ginger, 1 teaspoon cloves---or you can use 5-6 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice. For extract I use 2 teaspoons of lemon extract, which is kind of expensive so you could cut it down to 1 teaspoon, but don't cut the lemon out entirely (because it's so good for the flavor, not because it's literally essential); you could use grated lemon zest (the colored part of the peel) instead, if you have that more readily available. I like to use walnuts or pecans (but the kids hate nuts so I don't often get to make them this way), and I don't use any dried fruit but the original recipe suggests golden raisins, and I suppose those would be okay.