Muffin trays are designed specifically for use when baking muffins - with or without paper cases. They are basically baking trays with suitably sized and shaped cup-like depressions to contain the batter to make the individual muffins. There are two distinct types of muffin, the English version, which is not cooked in this type of pan, and the American version, which is similar in shape to a cupcake but without any icing. This is the type that is baked in a proper muffin pan or tray. Muffins do not have a long history; they first appeared in American cookbooks in the 19th century, although recipes for a similar product that included yeast and wheat flour are found in earlier cookbooks. These cakes were eaten mainly as a plain breakfast food for a quick and easy meal, but they have since become very popular in a wide range of flavours to become a delicious snack at any time of the day.
Muffin pans can be made of a wide variety of materials, each with their own unique properties. Consider carefully the differences between the types of material before settling on a purchase.
Metal muffin pans are the traditional type; the metal conducts the heat well, baking the muffins evenly. There is generally a non-stick coating to the inside of the modern pans, making the muffins easier to get out of the pan when they are cooked. Metal pans of a dull/dark finish will create a crispier outside to the muffins as they conduct the heat more readily than do the shiny metal trays. Both types will produce a good result, so the choice is really down to the individual cook's preference of crispy topped or softer muffins. Metal muffin pans should be correctly stored to avoid scratching any non-stick surfaces, and they must be dried carefully and kept dry to avoid rust forming.
This is a modern material for making muffin pans and the products are becoming very popular with cooks. It is a flexible synthetic rubber-like material made of natural silicon bonded to other substances. Silicone is heat resistant and dishwasher safe, and can withstand sudden temperature changes; it can go straight from the oven into a freezer or vice versa. Silicone muffin pans come in a wide range of bright colours and are flexible, making it quick and easy to turn muffins out once they are cooked. There were some safety concerns about silicone, but they seem to have been unfounded. It is, however, recommended that buyers check silicone products for the presence of filler, which can indicate a lower quality product. Twisting the surface and looking to see if any white colour shows through is the way to check this. Avoid non-uniform lower-quality products as they will not conduct the oven's heat evenly, which will have an adverse effect on the baking muffins.
Disposable cardboard trays are great for a one off attempt at baking muffins; they work well for just one use and are then thrown away, which also saves on the washing up. They can usually be bought in multi-packs and are really useful for baking large quantities of muffins for a party or event. This saves the expense of purchasing lots more metal or silicone trays that might never be needed again.
There is a range of muffin pan sizes on the market; some trays contain 6, 12, or 24 spaces for the muffin mixture, and the size of the indents will vary from product to product. There are muffin trays that produce lots of little muffins that may be as small as an inch across, and trays that will produce much bigger six-inch wide muffins. There are also individual muffin trays that cook one large muffin that is more of a cake than an individual treat. It really comes down to the amount and size of muffins that a cook wants to make on a regular basis; purchasing a range of sizes should cover the needs of most muffin makers.
The classic shape for a muffin tray is the standard cupcake style, and cupcake trays can also be used for baking muffins. There are plenty of novelty muffin trays available that produce all kinds of shapes, from Santa Claus muffins to heart shaped muffins and everything in between. Most of these novelty shaped trays are made of silicone, as it is easier to bend to get the muffin shapes out, and it is easier to produce the moulds from that material in the first place.
With no limit to the possible variations, there's always a flavour for everyone.
Blueberry is one of the classic muffin flavours, and many other fruits can be used in the recipe, such as raspberry, orange, pineapple, and banana. It is often possible to simply substitute one fruit for another in a recipe, but care should be taken to adjust cooking times where necessary to ensure that the muffins are not burnt or undercooked. Fruit muffins are popular as breakfast foods, and may have bran or oats incorporated to create a more filling meal.
Muffins can be chocolate chip, chocolate sponge, or a combination of both, as well as having many different kinds of chocolate in them. White and dark chocolate can be used, and chocolate chips are often added to fruit muffins, such as white chocolate and raspberry or dark chocolate and orange.
Savoury muffins can be made with cheese, and there are increasing amounts of recipes out there for vegetable muffins, such as carrot and courgette muffins. Anyone making muffins can experiment with almost any kind of filling; whatever flavours go down well with the family could make the perfect muffin ingredients.
Care of Muffin Trays
Good quality muffin trays should last for many years if they are cared for correctly. Metal trays should be carefully washed and dried to ensure that they are not at all damp before they are put away; they should also be stored in dry conditions to avoid any rusting of the metal.
Non-stick coatings need special care to keep them acting effectively; metal implements should never be used on non-stick surfaces as they will scratch the coating and damage it. Teflon was a very popular trade name for non-stick coatings on cookware, but concerns surrounding it have recently been raised as it has been shown to cause Polymer fume fever, which can occur when Teflon coatings are heated above 350 degrees centigrade. This poisoning causes flu like symptoms in an affected user and will produce symptoms of high fever, headache, and chills. Ceramic coatings and anodised aluminium are now replacing Teflon coatings as a non-stick surface.
Current ceramic coatings available include Thermalon, which is a silicon oxide polymer containing no toxic chemicals, and a lower energy cost for producing it, and Ecolon, a ceramic reinforced nylon coating. There are many other non-stick coatings being developed to replace Teflon after the health concerns became apparent, all of which claim to be safer and more environmentally friendly. Any cook using these new products should check the manufacturer's instructions for the use and care of the pan. These non-stick muffin pans can really help with getting the muffins out of the pan intact, so they are certainly worth considering.
Using paper muffin cases inside a muffin tray is a good way to protect the tray and also reduce on cleaning up afterwards. These cases will also help to maintain the shape of the muffin, the only downside is that the muffin surface that is encased in the paper case will not become crispy as it would if it was in direct contact with a metal muffin tray; this problem is also experienced with silicone muffin trays as the silicone does not conduct the heat in the same way as does a metal tray.
Buying Muffin Pans on eBay
Muffins are becoming very popular as an easy to bake product, and the range of muffin trays available is increasing alongside this rise in demand. A simple eBay search for muffin pan will bring up all kinds of shapes and sizes, so those that know exactly what they are looking for in terms of style and material should use more exact keywords in the search string. Anyone wanting to browse will be able to narrow the search results by selecting and deselecting the filters at the left hand side of the screen; these facilitate filtering by price, material, colour, and size where required. It is possible to find sets of muffin trays that will cover the needs of bakers wanting to make a range of sizes, and these sets usually offer value for money even though the initial outlay may be higher than for a single muffin pan.
It is also possible to find muffin trays by drilling through eBay's category listings. The link tree is as follows: from the homepage, click on Home & Garden, then Cookware, Dining & Bar, which can be found under the Furniture & Living tab on the left side of the screen, then Bakeware & Ovenware, and, finally, click on Muffin Pans & Baking Moulds.
Muffins are a delicious, quick and easy product to bake, and there is room for lots of experimentation in the area of flavours and shapes and sizes. Muffin trays of every possible design can be found on eBay. With many manufacturers all in the same place, it is a great site to find the right products in a fast and efficient manner.