Keep this batter in the fridge so it's easy to bake or microwave fresh muffins throughout the week. The magic of chia seed gel replaces the added eggs and fat found in most muffin recipes. Made with 100% whole grains, you can make these a regular part of a healthy breakfast in everyone's favorite flavor.
Years ago there was a bran muffin refrigerator batter making the rounds that I remember being so convenient. The batter was mixed and stored in the fridge for a quick, freshly baked muffin at a moment's notice. Like my other make-ahead breakfasts (refrigerator oatmeal, oatmeal smoothies, and healthy Egg McMuffin copycats), I wanted to figure out a new version of make-ahead muffin refrigerator batter--one more way to make mornings easier with a quick, healthy breakfast.
After considerable experimenting, I came up with today's recipe. I made one basic batter that can be quickly and easily adapted for an endless number of muffin flavors.
Where's the magic in these muffins?
Nutritional Info (for one plain Magic Muffin):
Step-by-step photos for making
Refrigerator Multigrain Magic Muffins
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients: buttermilk, baking powder, baking soda, honey, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, plus these seeds and whole grain flours (available at many grocery stores and Whole Foods):
About the flours: I settled on this combination of healthy flours to achieve a good flavor and texture. Feel free to experiment with substituting other flours, but I can't personally vouch for the results. The brown rice and oat flours are also available in gluten-free varieties.
About the baking powder and baking soda: Make sure these are fresh (check their expiration dates). These are the leavening for the muffins. Old ingredients result in flat muffins.
Buttermilk substitute: You can make a substitute for buttermilk by combining 1 tablespoon vinegar with enough lowfat milk to make 1 cup total liquid. Set aside for 10 minutes before combining with other ingredients.
About the sweetener: I used honey to sweeten these muffins. You may substitute maple syrup, agave syrup, brown sugar, or another preferred sweetener. These muffins are mildly sweet. If you like a more cake-like sweetness, increase the honey or other sweetener.
Step 2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together.
Step 3. Combine the wet ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together.
Step 4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir just until moist. Don't over mix; batter should be lumpy.
Step 5. Allow batter to rest for at least 30 minutes before baking muffins. (This is necessary to allow the chia seeds to soften and form a gel, promoting moister muffins.) OR... Cover batter and refrigerate overnight or up to 5 days.
NOTE: Whether you use the batter right away or after several days in the refrigerator, the batter should not be re-stirred or re-mixed before scooping or spooning it into muffin cups. This helps the texture of the muffins remain light.
Procedure for adding batter and flavors to muffin cups
The procedure for adding batter and fruit/nut flavors to muffin tins is the same for every flavor. Fruits/nuts are added in two layers so that they are more evenly distributed in the muffins. By adding the fruits/nuts to each muffin individually, you can make a variety of flavors using the same batter.
Step 6a. Spray or grease the number of muffin cups you will be filling. If you aren't adding fruit or flavors to the muffins: without remixing the batter, use a scoop or spoon to fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Skip to Step 9.
Step 6b. If you are adding fruit/nuts/flavors: without remixing the batter, only add enough batter to fill 1/3 of each muffin cup. (See 12 flavor combo suggestions below.)
Step 7. Sprinkle on fruit, nuts, or other flavors.
Step 8. Repeat with another layer of batter topped with more fruit/nuts/flavors. Each muffin cup should be approx. 2/3 full.
Step 9. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-23 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
12 Fruits/Nuts/Flavor suggestions
Here's how to use the plain batter to create flavored muffins.
1. Blueberry Muffins
2. Raspberry Muffins
3. Blackberry Muffins
4. Cranberry Orange Muffins -- Sprinkle dried cranberries and orange zest on bottom batter layer; repeat on top layer. Use a Microplane to zest the orange.
5. Apple Cinnamon Muffins -- Sprinkle bottom layer with diced apples and cinnamon; repeat on top layer.
6. Mango Muffins -- Sprinkle bottom layer with diced mango; repeat on top layer.
7. Granola Muffins -- Sprinkle bottom layer with granola; repeat on top layer. Use store bought granola, or make your own. Here's my granola recipe.
8. Ginger Muffins -- Sprinkle bottom layer with minced crystallized ginger; repeat on top layer.
9. Banana Nut Muffins -- Sprinkle bottom layer with diced banana and walnuts or pecans; repeat on top layer. To avoid unappealing darkened bananas on muffin tops, press bananas on top layer into the batter so they are immersed, then sprinkle with nuts.
10. Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip Muffins -- Sprinkle bottom layer with PB2 and chocolate chips, repeat on top layer. Hint: after sprinkling on PB2, gently mix it into batter with a toothpick.
11. Pineapple Coconut Muffins. Sprinkle bottom layer with shredded coconut and minced pineapple; repeat on top layer.
12. Peach Almond Muffins. Sprinkle diced peaches on bottom layer; repeat on top layer and sprinkle with almonds.
Ready to bake! They take about 20 minutes in the oven or toaster oven. I made one of each flavor so you could see how they should look. Chances are you won't make this many flavors at one time; but, as you can see, there are endless possibilities. Get creative and invent your own flavors, too!
Ready to Microwave! You can also cook these in the microwave using silicone muffin cups (unlike many plastics, silicone is considered safe to use in the microwave). It only takes 1 minute to cook a muffin. They look a little funky--the tops look dry and lumpy--but the inside texture is light and the muffins are moist. Taste great and can't beat the convenience. You can make them with flavors like those shown above, or make them plain. Microwave up to 4 muffins at one time, adding 20-30 seconds for each additional muffin. (Microwave times can vary, so you may have to do a little trial-and-error in the beginning to get the cook time in your microwave exactly right.) You can also microwave muffins in small ramekins or custard cups.
Here's a platter of my oven-baked muffins. Don't expect them to be the sky-high, cupcake-like muffins you find at Panera. These healthy muffins have a nice texture and flavor, but they don't rise or have the sweetness of the high fat, high calorie versions. Like all muffins, they're much better when freshly baked. That's the great thing about this refrigerator batter--they can be eaten freshly baked every time!
Due to the lack of fat and sugar in the muffins, they don't brown much on top, but they still look appealing with the added toppings.
It's the flavor and texture on the inside that will sell you on these. Adding the fruit in two layers ensures that it is well distributed. This blackberry muffin was delish with my morning coffee.
Make it a Yummy day!
You might like this recipe.
A Magic Muffin is baked in the bottom of a mason jar.
This post was updated 11/2013.