I’ve had it in my head for at least a week now that I wanted to make some muffins. Specific muffins: they’re pumpkin muffins with spices and nuts and dried cranberries and maple syrup in them and they’re delicious. They’re the kind of thing that I’ve made so many times that I eventually got sick of having to bring the recipe up on my phone and almost dropping my phone in the bowl of muffin batter while trying to read and measure at the same time, so I scribbled the recipe down on a scrap of paper and now it lives on the side of my fridge.
This morning was perhaps not the best morning to embark on my muffin-baking fantasy, in retrospect. Last night was rough. I was up and down several times in the night, as was my husband, with our various respective bathroom-related issues. My FitBit practically asked me if I was OK this morning when I brought up my sleep data…or lack there-of. Suffice to say, I have not been firing on all cylinders today.
But those muffins. Those sweet, sweet pumpkin nuggets of joy with the walnuts and the cranberries. I had been thinking about them for days. I decided I couldn’t wait any longer. Because if there’s one thing I DEFINITELY want to do when I’m tragically overtired, it’s eat baked goods. I mean, I want to eat baked goods 24/7, basically, let’s be honest. But my decision-making barometer goes especially askew when there’s a lack of sleep and sugar involved.
Once I saw my husband off to work and got the dishwasher going, I had roughly 35 minutes to get the muffins going before I had to log into work and start pretending to give a shit about non-muffin subjects. No problem, plenty of time. I measured my drys in one bowl, my wets in the other, then I combined the two. Mix mix mix, taste to make sure it wasn’t poison, and bingo! Ready to bake! I got out my trusty scoop and started portioning muffin batter into the wells of the pan. Everything was going splendidly…
…until I got to the end of the batter after 11 muffins rather than 12.
Hmmm, I thought. That’s not right. This recipe definitely makes 12 muffins. It always has! And I didn’t even do extra rigorous poison-tests this time like I tend to do with cookie dough, so it’s not even like I could blame myself for having eaten too much of the uncooked batter (yes, I know, raw flour and raw egg, clearly I don’t value my life. If I get salmonella I won’t come crying to you, I promise). I stood there looking back and forth between the scraped-clean bowl and the empty muffin cup for what probably would have felt like an embarassingly long time had I been operating on enough sleep to feel shame. Or anything other than muffin-lust.
I grabbed the recipe and started going down the list, mentally checking things off:
Brown sugar? Yes.
Maple syrup? Two eggs? Flour? Baking soda? Salt? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
100 grams of oil.
I looked at the measuring cup I had been using. Dry as a bone. Definitely hadn’t held oil since the last time it was washed.
Well, balls. That was a no on the oil, then.
I looked at the portioned-out batter again. It looked fine. It had definitely seemed slightly thicker than usual even before I realized I was a muffin-cup short, but it certainly wasn’t thick enough to make me think something was very out of whack. LIKE THAT I HAD FORGOTTEN THE OIL, FOR INSTANCE. I poked at it. I tested for poison again. It was a good batch. The spices were really nice, it wasn’t overly sweet. I REALLY wanted these muffins to happen. And I REALLY didn’t want to try to scoop batter out of 11 portioned out muffin cups so that I could mix oil in and then portion them all out again.
I checked the time. 8:55. I needed to punch in by 9. With a lack of time as my final justification for not fixing my mistake, I muttered a resigned “YOLO, I guess” and slid the pan into the waiting oven.
20 minutes later I came back to survey the damage. The muffins certainly smelled nice and they didn’t look too shabby either, aside from not having puffed up much. I tested them with a toothpick and they seemed done so I pulled them out to cool a bit while I made a cup of coffee.
Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore and I tore into one. The muffin wrapper was…reluctant to come off. That’s putting it nicely. Probably close to a third of the muffin hung on to the paper like cement. The part that did come off was basically fine, though. The texture was a little weird but the flavors were good and the muffins were certainly edible. I stood there picking stuck crumbs off the muffin paper like some kind of kitchen gargoyle after I finished the main event, so that should be a testament to the flavor. Or at least my level of commitment to muffin consumption. And possibly my addiction to carbs in general.
So, in summation, I would offer you these points:
– you can totally bake muffins without oil in them. Would I recommend it? No. But will they be at least vaguely edible if you skip the oil? Probably.
– maybe double-check your ingredient list BEFORE you portion out your muffin batter, if you don’t want to live life on the bleeding edge of culinary experimentation like some of us.
– weird muffins are better than no muffins. I think this is probably a good metaphor for some kind of deep life observation or something, but I’m too fucking tired to go there right now.