It was with much regret that I chose to bake this same recipe in those paper liners last time. I ended up with muffins that had too little crunchy surface area. I promised myself that I would make these muffins again, in their rightful muffin tin, so that I could have more of that droolicious muffin top. So here they are!
I talked about my ideal muffin before. Basically, I wanted a muffin that expands upwards and outwards, instead of just aiming for the sky. To achieve this aim, I tweaked this recipe a bit, adding baking soda as another leavening agent. I didn't do any proper research, but I remembered reading that baking soda helps the baked good to spread outwards. I think it applies for cookies. I wasn't sure if it would apply for muffins but I tried it out anyway.
I'm not too sure if it worked, because I didn't make my previous batch in the same muffin tin to compare, but I'm happy with the results nevertheless. Strangely enough, the muffins that were baked in different parts of the oven rose differently. I always make sure to rotate the trays and tins halfway through baking time, but it seems like the first few minutes are always the crucial defining moment for how the baked good would turn out. In this case, the muffin that baked at the innermost left of my oven, my oven's hotspot, rose mostly upwards and not so much sideways. This muffin you see here was baked somewhere in the middle of the oven where the temperature was more mild. It has a larger and flatter top as compared to the one which I baked at a "hotter" temperature. I think this is because baking at a lower temperature allows the centre of the muffin to bake almost at the same rate as the outsides, and the centre expands before the outside sets into a hard crust, resulting in a flatter muffin top. Allowing the crust to set before the insides have a chance to cook and rise would restrict the "growth" of the muffin outwards, if you can picture it. (P.S I baked at 200C or 400F)
Therefore, my conclusion for large, flat top muffins is to bake them at lower temperatures.
Another reason that is hampering my goal of a large, flat muffin is, I guess, the use of too much flour. To make a really high rising muffin, more structure than usual is needed, and that's where the extra flour comes in. But because I'm looking for a muffin that expands vertically, and not horizontally, I don't really need that much flour. In fact, a looser batter may be preferred as it does not make the leavening's job as hard as a stiff batter would. Too stiff a batter, especially with my preferred method of mixing (which includes the whipping of eggs), would most probably result in a dry muffin. These muffins actually turned out on the dry and crumbly side. I could have overbaked them slightly, but this problem was already prevalent in my previous batch.
Second conclusion- a looser batter by using less flour or more liquid.
Hopefully, with these guidelines I can be a bit closer to my perfect muffin recipe. Watch this space.