Flat or sunken muffins? These are reasons why your muffins didn’t rise; some are typical baking mistakes and some are not. Read on to find out what could be the cause and how you can prevent this common muffin issue from happening ever again.
Reasons Why Muffins don’t Rise:
- Old or expired leavening ingredients (baking soda/baking powder).
- Inaccurately substituting baking powder for baking soda.
- One or both leavening ingredients were measured incorrectly or mistakenly left out.
- Using less eggs than the recipe calls for.
- Overmixing the batter.
- Undermixing the batter.
- Too much flour.
- The oven was set to the wrong temperature or not fully preheated.
- The recipe itself.
Old or Expired Leavening Ingredients
This usually happens to those who rarely bake or those who rarely ever use leavening ingredients.
What typically happens is these ingredients are bought for one or two recipes. Afterwards, they sit in the cabinet or cupboard for a long time collecting dust until the next century when they are needed again. If this sounds familiar, this is definitely the case for you!
After being opened, both baking soda and baking powder become less effective overtime especially when exposed to moisture.
When baking powder is old or expired it will still work but not completely.
Baking soda, on the other hand, doesn’t usually have an expiry date on the package and from personal experience, it stays potent for up to 1 year after being opened as long as it’s stored correctly.
Tip: Store these two ingredients at room temperature in a cool, dry place away from heat and moisture, always write the date they were opened on the package, and buy new packages every year.
Inaccurately substituting Baking Powder for Baking Soda
Baking soda is about 3 – 4 times stronger than baking powder so these two ingredients are not interchangeable.
Tip: If a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of baking soda you’ll need to use 3 – 4 teaspoons of baking powder.
However, even if you do substitute it correctly it is highly likely that you will not get the exact same results because the potency of these two ingredients differ greatly and they not only affect the way the batter rises, but the texture, color, and taste of the muffins as well.
One or both Leavening Ingredients were measured incorrectly or mistakenly left out
Since leavening ingredients are used to expand the batter and make baked goods rise, if you don’t use enough or leave them out completely you’ll inevitably end up with flat muffins.
Tip: Read through the recipe again to see if you might have missed it or used the wrong measurement!
Using less Eggs than the recipe calls for
When beaten into batter, eggs trap and hold air causing the batter to expand, therefore providing lift during baking and added volume to the end product.
So if you used even just one less egg than what was required, it is highly likely that this is the reason or one of the reasons why your muffins did not rise.
Too Much Flour
This is one of the most common reason why muffins do not rise.
When you add too much flour, you are changing the ratio of liquid to leavening ingredients to flour which means you are changing the texture, how long the muffins will bake, and how high they will rise.
Excess flour will naturally make the batter dense and stiff which makes it difficult for the muffins to rise as intended.
Tip: Unless the recipe states otherwise, measure the flour by spooning it into the measuring cup and leveling off the excess. Do not pack the flour into the measuring cup!
Overmixing the batter
When flour is hydrated and the batter is mixed, gluten (protein) bonds form. These bonds act as a binder that hold the batter together and provide structure and elasticity. The more you mix the more they form and the stronger they get.
Overmixing can prevent the muffins from rising because when too many gluten bonds form the batter becomes heavy making it a lot harder for it to rise.
Tip: Mix just until there are no dry streaks of flour remaining. It is completely okay if the batter is lumpy.
Also, another positive indicator that you’ve overmixed is if your muffins came out tough and or rubbery.
Undermixing the batter
This is very rare but it does still happen, especially when the recipe says “do not overmix!”.
Undermixing can cause uneven distribution of ingredients. If this is the case you end up with muffins that are risen in some places and very flat in others, not to mention pockets of flour or liquid.
Tip: After mixing, your batter may be lumpy but it should be consistent all throughout. Like I said before, there should be no streaks of flour or any other dry ingredient and no pooling liquid.
The Oven was set to the Wrong Temperature or not Fully Preheated
If the oven isn’t hot enough your muffins will not rise or they will not rise properly because both baking soda and baking powder need to reach a certain temperature in order to fully react and release the maximum amount of gas so that the batter can expand.
The internal temperature of the batter needs to be at 170ºF / 76.6ºC or higher.
Tip: Before placing your muffins inside the oven, always make sure that it is fully preheated and at the correct temperature.
The Recipe Itself
This one is probably the most common reason of them all. The problem could simply be the recipe that you used!
Some muffin recipes, like my applesauce muffin recipe for example, produce flat-top muffins.
Some muffin batters are thin and runny and therefore lack the thickness and structure to rise upward during baking and stay in that shape. And usually when they do rise, they immediately deflate after being taken out of the oven. This could definitely be the case if your muffins rose and then collapsed and are sunken in the middle.
Insufficiently Filling the Pan: The quantity of batter the recipe produces plays a big role as well. Sometimes there simply isn’t enough batter to fill the pan cavities to the top, therefore when the muffins rise during baking they stay low and don’t push out to form those big muffin tops.
Tip: When picking a recipe, choose wisely! Always read the reviews and always read through the recipe to see if it makes sense before you begin baking.
Changing the Yield
And last but not least, changing the yield will result in flat muffins. If the recipe states that it yields 12 muffins but you decided to make 18, your muffins will obviously be much smaller and flatter than if you were to make the exact amount as directed.
If you want a muffin recipe that produces the most perfect dome, check out my Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Muffins! They’re big and jaw-dropping just like the ones in the café.
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