You Should Add a Pudding Cup to Your Muffin Mix

You Should Add a Pudding Cup to Your Muffin Mix
Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Not all recipe testing turns out the way you expect it to. Sometimes you want cake, and instead you end up with a new type of muffin. Although I could regale you with a few surefire ways to not turn pudding cups into cakes, I thought a great little muffin tip might be more helpful. For a textural boost on a breakfast classic, add a pudding cup to your muffin mix.

Pudding doesn’t make for a great fluffy cake base because of how dense it is — the dessert becomes weighed down and claggy. It can be, however, a helpful addition to any muffin mix. While cakes are touted for being light with a fine crumb, while muffins are stocky, hefty, and irregular. Cakes usually get added sweetness from frosting or other sugary topping, while muffins bear gifts like blueberries, nuts, or chocolate chips. After a few of my sticky trials, I found that adding pudding to muffin batter actually magnified the muffin’s positive traits.

I used a regular vanilla Jell-O pudding cup, and it gave my muffins a subtle but detectable bounce to the inside. The starchy thickness of the pudding added some oomph without making the batter sticky or heavy. This extra structure is ideal if you’re making jumbo muffins that are loaded with fruit or other accessories. Where other muffin batters might risk fruit falling to the bottom, or burnt edges and undercooked middles, adding pudding can give the support needed without weighing it down. Sometimes quickbreads can get a bit dry and crumbly, especially after a day, but these had a subdued hydration that stayed, even after I left them uncovered overnight (forgetting about them was part of my scientific process, leave me be).

The greatest unexpected result was the flavour. I had added no extracts and was expecting something a little bland, but the vanilla Jell-O flavour imparted an almost crème-brulée-like flavour to my batch of muffins. This opens the door to a number of muffin possibilities, like chocolate, butterscotch and Oreo. Is Oreo a flavour of pudding? (It should be.)

How to add pudding to muffin mix

Use either store-bought or homemade pudding to add extra hydration and bounce to your muffin mix. A standard Jell-O pudding cup is just under four ounces each and the muffin recipe I modified had a yield of nine small muffins. I used a Wilton cupcake pan with standard foil liners, but you can butter and flour the wells if you prefer to have liner-less muffins. Select whichever muffin recipe you’d like to work with. There is only one adjustment you really have to do and it’s a little weird — just stick with me here.

Cut the liquid measurement (not the oil measurement) in half + 2 tablespoons. So if it calls for a ½ cup of milk, add a ¼ cup and then also add two tablespoons of milk. Add the other liquid ingredients, like oil and eggs, as per the recipe in the same bowl. Whisk the wet ingredients until homogenous, and then whisk the pudding into the wet mixture, as well. Since one pudding cup is just under four ounces and that was perfect for nine small muffins, check the yield of the recipe and adjust from there. At the end, I tend to add a healthy sprinkle of sugar to the surface of each muffin no matter what the recipe says — it creates deliciously crunchy rafts to the muffin tops.

This calculation gives the best bouncy texture to the muffin without making it heavy. As I mentioned before, I omitted the extracts and the pudding added plenty of flavour. From here you can get creative. Use a vanilla pudding and make crème brulée streusel muffins, or try butterscotch-chocolate chip. Let me know in the comments how your pudding cup combos turn out.

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