My Muffin Tops Always Came Out Flat — Until I Learned This Foolproof Trick

Sometimes it’s okay not to fill all the cups in your muffin pan.

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Baking a picture-perfect muffin is a lot harder than it seems. It needs to have a beautifully rounded top and a golden, almost butterscotch-like color is essential. While it is possible to get a few nicely formed muffins out of the dozen you’ve baked, ensuring that all 12 of them look as if they came straight out of the pages of a glossy cookbook or food magazine, might seem more up to chance than we’d like to admit. Despite all this, there are actually things you can do to make the impossible possible. Dan Langan would know. In his Nutty Pistachio-Chip Muffins class on the Food Network Kitchen app, Dan not only shares his foolproof trick for getting perfectly formed muffin tops with each and every bake, he also walks you through his can’t miss method for incorporating wet and dry ingredients. Here’s everything you need to know.

It’s Okay to Go Nuts — Just Make Sure You Toast Them First!

One of the best things about muffin recipes, especially this one, is their versatility. While the pistachios in this recipe add a sweet, buttery richness and a nice, bright green color, you don’t need to include them if you’re not a fan. In fact, Dan says you can use just about any other nut — pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, you pick! — as a substitute, but you’ll want to make sure that you toast them in the oven first before mixing them into your batter. “When the nuts are in the muffin, as they’re baking, because they are surrounded by that batter, they’re not going to toast. They'll bake, but they’re not going to toast. So, you always want to use toasted nuts because they’re going to have a much richer flavor,” Dan says.

Do You Know the Muffin (Method), the Muffin (Method), the Muffin (Method)?!

This might seem self-explanatory but when it comes to combining wet and dry ingredients, not all methods are the same. Since you typically use less sugar when making muffins than when you’re making a cake, you want to make sure you use a mixing method that yields a coarse crumb and texture. Enter: the muffin method. “Muffins are pretty easy to make. There’s actually a mixing method — it’s called the muffin method, and it’s basically just the technique of combining all your dry ingredients in one bowl and all your wet ingredients into another bowl and then you stir the wet ingredients into the dry and you mix everything until the flour is kind of hydrated and that’s what we are going to be doing,” Dan shares as he gets his ingredients together.

Two Pans Are Better Than One

Ask any baker and they’ll tell you that muffin tins are an essential part of their baking toolkit. But just because your basic muffin tin comes with 6 or 12 cups, doesn’t mean you have you fill them all. In fact, not using them all is how you’ll get that coveted, curvaceous muffin top you’ve been lusting after. “This recipe is going to make 12 muffins, but what we’re going to do here is use two pans,” Dan shares.

What you need to do next is line every other muffin crevice — yes, you read that correctly. “What we’ve done is lined every other well or cupcake cavity with a liner and that’s going to be very helpful because these muffins are going to raise quite a bit and they’re going to grow and expand beyond the liner to give us that nice muffin top, so we want to make sure that they have room to grow. So, giving them that space is going to help them bake nice and evenly,” Dan notes.

Dragging your batter to the very edge of your muffin cups and liners is also essential when it comes to giving your muffins a golden-brown coloring. “One little extra step that I like to do is just take a spoon and kind of spread the batter out just a little bit,” Dan advises. “I like to kind of spread the batter just to the very edge of the liner. I’ve found over the years of making muffins that when you spread the batter it helps the muffin raise evenly. So, if the batter starts at the very edge of the muffin liner, then when it goes into our hot, hot oven it’s going to expand very evenly and give you a really nice, round muffin top.”

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