Last Updated on September 22, 2022
Today, we will learn how to know when muffins are done. Our easy tests will help teach you what a perfect muffin should look and feel like!
We will explore the different techniques and how to get the ultimate muffin texture and flavor. Trust us, it may seem daunting at first. But after this article, you'll be able to easily recognize the various signs of a well-baked muffin.
How Are Muffins Baked?
This sounds like a silly question, but understanding how muffins should be baked will help you better understand how to know when muffins are done.
Muffins are always baked in an oven. Like most baked goods, they need dry heat and (preferably) circulating air from the oven. If you use this type of heat for baking, it allows the perfect crumb to develop slowly while cooking any raw ingredients.
The optimal temperature to bake muffins is 360ºF (180ºC). Some people prefer to bake them at a higher temperature and others at a lower. Having experimented with the effects that the different temperatures give you, we hands-down believe that 360ºF (180ºC) is the best temperature.
It creates the ultimate fluffy texture without drying out the muffin too much. And, it allows the muffins to peak at the perfect height. If the temperature is too high, the structure is set in place before the muffin has fully risen.
And finally, muffins should always bake for between 15-25 minutes. We know, quite the big time difference. But this is because of the various muffin sizes you get.
If your muffins are on the smaller side, naturally you wouldn't need to bake them for as long. But, the large jumbo muffins generally bake for at least 25 minutes, potentially even longer.
Ultimately, the perfect time and temperature will depend on your specific muffin recipe. So, always start with what the recipe recommends. If you feel that it could be better, experiment with the temperatures.
Physical traits of a perfectly baked muffin
Perfectly baked muffins aren't hard to get. All muffins (no matter what type or flavor you are making) should have a generally moist crumb. Now, this doesn't mean wet. It just means not dry.
Then, the crumbs are also often uneven. Some areas have large tunnels and holes in them. Whilst other areas are very cake-like in texture.
The crumb should physically feel very soft, fluffy, and light in texture. Muffins do have a tight crumbs, but that doesn't mean it's dense.
When eating a muffin, you know it's really good when the texture is soft, moist, and a little bit chewy. Think of a cupcake; it doesn't stick to your mouth and is generally not very moist. But, the high moisture content in a muffin makes it chewier, like decadent brownies!
The flavor of muffins should also be very prominent. Generally, if you make a lemon cupcake, the notes of lemon are minimal. But, for muffins, the flavors should always be extremely strong. So, if you have a bland muffin, rather try a different recipe or make adjustments to yours.
How To Know When Muffins Are Done?
Ways you can test muffins
Method 1: Toothpick test
This is the best test you can use. It is easy, quick, and very effective. Simply insert a toothpick into the center of your muffin. Then, gently pull it out straight. If the toothpick comes out clean, the muffin is fully baked. But, if crumbs or batter come out of the toothpick, the muffin needs to continue baking.
If you don't have a toothpick, you can always try a knitting needle, meat skewer, thin knife blade, or cake testing needle. All of these alternatives will work as well.
Method 2: Tapping
The next method involves physically touching the muffin. Only use this method when the surface of the muffin is very obviously fully baked.
So, how to know when muffins are done using touch? Lightly press on the top of the muffin. If it springs back easily, the muffin is fully baked. If it stays indented, your center is still raw and needs to be baked for longer.
If the surface doesn't spring back but doesn't remain fully indented, it still needs to be baked for a couple more minutes. But, be careful at this stage to not overbake your muffins.
Method 3: Physical appearance
And finally, you can tell whether or not muffins are finished baking just by looking at them.
The surface of the muffin shouldn't be wet or look raw. Of course, this gets a little tricky to tell when you make chocolate chip muffins. But, generally speaking, the surface shouldn't look raw.
Then, you will also see that the muffins will pull away from the sides. Even if they are baked with a liner, they'll still contract and have a gap between the sides.
This technique takes some time to learn. So, when you test their doneness with a toothpick, always look at their physical appearance (especially your recipes).
How to know when muffins are done takes time and practice. But, that's why there are easier methods like using a toothpick. It's easy and you don't need any special tools.
If you still have any questions, feel free to ask us in the comments below.
How do you tell if muffins are done without a toothpick?
Using a toothpick is a great way (if not the best way) to test the doneness of muffins. But, if you don't have one, you can always try and replace it with something similar, like a knitting needle or skewer. Otherwise, lightly tap the top of the muffin to see if it bounces back. If it does, the muffin is completely baked. That's arguably the second easiest way.
What does an undercooked muffin look like?
If a muffin doesn't have that signature peak, it likely hasn't been baked for long enough. It could also be caused by incorrect recipe ratios, so always look for more signs. Another obvious way to tell if a muffin is underbaked is to look at the center of the muffin. If the outside looks perfect and the inside is raw, the rest of the muffins need to continue baking.
How do you test muffins and loaves for doneness?
Using a toothpick is the easiest and quickest way to test the doneness of muffins and other baked goods. Simply insert it into the center of the item and remove it. If it comes out clean, it is perfectly baked. But, if it comes out with raw dough, the item needs to be baked some more. For bread loaves, you can tap the bottom to hear if it sounds hollow.
What are the characteristics of a well-made muffin?
The ultimate muffin has a moist crumb with a light, spongy, and fluffy texture. The crumb also has an irregular physical texture with a variety of small and big holes. It also has a somewhat chewy (for a baked cake-like item) texture. And finally, perfect muffins are either peaked (bell-type_ or flat tops. They are uniform in color and not under or overbaked.
Lindy Van Schalkwyk is a culinary specialist with a background in Advanced Cooking, Advanced Pâtisserie, Media Communications and Nutrition. She has gained invaluable experience in the culinary industry having worked in some of the top restaurants in Africa in 2016 and 2017. Her expertise in nutrition has enabled her to develop recipes for special dietary needs. In 2018, Lindy began working in the Food Media industry, focusing on recipe development, recipe writing, food writing and food styling.