Photo Credit: p. bernstein
It was a muffin emergency.
I had just spent the entire morning baking two batches of homemade banana muffins for my four-year-old daughter Ruby's class party. Just as I was preparing to congratulate myself, I opened the oven door only to see the results of my labor: the muffins were deflated and gooey. Ruby’s classmates would be more likely to play with these sticky clumps of dough than eat them.
So, I did what any reasonable person would do: I trudged through the snow to the corner store to purchase a box of muffin mix, hoping nobody would see me in my moment of shame. When I got home, I added milk, oil and eggs to the dry mix and hoped for the best. The directions on the back of the box instructed me to “stir 50 to 75 strokes,” but I admit I lost count after 35 or so.
Less than 20 minutes later, I had “homemade” muffins fresh from the oven. They were just the right consistency—not too hearty, not too doughy. And the taste was just what I had been aiming for with my homemade batch—sweet, but not cloying.
Since I only recently learned to cook at all, I take particular pride in producing homemade snacks for my daughter’s class. But I couldn’t argue with the evidence—the muffins from the mix were much tastier than the ones I baked from scratch. And it wasn’t just the banana muffins. I have since had similar outcomes with my “from scratch” blueberry and corn muffins.
As satisfying as it is to boast that I bake homemade muffins, I have to admit that the muffins I bake from a mix are much more consistently good.
“My mom made the muffins,” four-year-old Ruby boasted as we doled the treats out to her classmates.
For a moment, I felt guilty about the half-truth, but then I remembered that I did make them. I just didn’t let on that I had a little help from a store-bought mix. But I had no reason to worry; Ruby’s classmates couldn’t tell the difference. They gobbled up the muffins and begged for more.
I’m all for baking from scratch, but there’s a time when you’ve got to acknowledge when you’ve been beat. When the guilt becomes too much, I remind myself that it’s not as if I buy muffins from the bakery and pass them off as my own. After all, I do add the milk, oil and eggs and make them at home in my own oven. So I think it's fair to call my muffins "homemade."
Even if you disagree, let's face it—my box mix-enhanced muffins are far tastier than anything I could make from scratch. If the end result is delicious, does it really matter how I got there?
Paula Bernstein writes the blog Undomesticated Me.