Published January 1, 2013. From Cook's Illustrated.
What should be a satisfying breakfast treat is often a dry, chewy regret. The key to a moist, tender crumb turned out to be choosing the proper oats and treating them right.
Oats are dry and tough, making them difficult to incorporate into a tender crumb. And the loads of spices and sugar in most recipes easily overwhelm the oats’ mild, nutty flavor.
We were determined to bake our way to a richly flavored, moist, and tender oatmeal muffin that boasted the best qualities of a great bowl of oatmeal.
In order for our old-fashioned oats—which we toasted in butter to deepen their flavor—to cook through completely, we processed them in our food processor. This finely ground oat flour readily absorbed liquid and fully softened once incorporated into the batter and baked. To allow the flour to fully hydrate, we gave it a 20-minute rest after mixing. The only caveat was that the oat flour occasionally developed a few large clumps that stubbornly refused to hydrate and dissolve into the batter during baking, leaving dry, floury pockets in the finished muffins. To avoid this, we used a technique called whisk folding. This developed minimal gluten and helped rupture any remaining pockets of dry ingredients.
With the texture in place, we turned our attention to topping. The perfect adornment proved to be a crisp-inspired mixture of oats, pecans, brown sugar, flour, melted butter, salt, and a hint of cinnamon.list of recipes