Muffin tins. I know what you’re thinking: You use them for blueberry- or bran-filled breakfast pastries with an occasional, misguided try at cupcakes that never turn out as glamorous as you hope. Or you already own a silicone muffin tin but it has proven to be problematic—cake sticks in the bottom of the wells, they’re hard to clean, and the metal is prone to rust.
Happily, Jay Muse, Lulu Cake Boutique’s charming baker/co-owner, has hacked his own silicone muffin tins so that the pans actually earn the cabinet space they require. He’s turned the rarely used specialist pans—which had been, at best, one- or two-trick ponies—into capable multitaskers that rival the most utilitarian pot. How? For one thing, this baker-to-the-stars has been around the cookware aisle a few times. He eschews rust-prone supermarket muffin tins for the higher-quality, silicone versions. These flexible, heat-proof pans offer the combined benefits of a non-porous, non-stick surface with bendable cups that can be turned inside-out to release even the most recalcitrant cake.
For all of their charms, silicone cake pans can take some getting used to. When baking cakes, they may not brown as well as those rigid metal pans. Also, silicone’s wiggliness can make for tricky counter-to-oven transfers. Happily, the recipes below dodge the challenges of silicone pans while showing off their beauty.
Preheat oven to 475°F. Grease or coat a 24-cup silicone mini-muffin pan with canola oil.
In a bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the egg and oil. Combine sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
Add the egg/oil mixture and the sparkling water to the flour mixture. Using a fork, quickly whisk the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, being careful not to over-mix. (“It’s okay to have a few lumps,” says Muse.)
Spoon the batter into the muffin tins until they are almost full, and then bake for about 15 minutes, or until they are a light golden color and have formed a crisp outside crust. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes.
Carefully remove them from the pans and toss them in the cinnamon sugar. To serve, drizzle with honey and serve while hot with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.
In a bowl, mash the berries and lemon juice together and allow the mixture to macerate while you prepare the soufflés.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a standard-size, 12-muffin form with cupcake papers.
In a bowl, beat the egg whites with 1 tsp of lemon juice until they are stiff.
In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the water, sugar, and vanilla until the mixture is light and foamy. Add the melted butter and beat for another minute. Being careful not to over mix, slowly add the flour and quickly combine until there are no remaining lumps.
Add the milk, remaining lemon juice, and lemon zest to the batter and beat until all the additions are incorporated.
Using a spatula, gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, then pour into paper-lined forms to the rim. Bake the soufflé for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool slightly before unmolding soufflés.
Peel off the cupcake papers, sprinkle the soufflés with powdered sugar, and serve while warm with fresh whipped cream and macerated berries.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly grease/spray a jumbo muffin pan with canola oil.
In a pan, sauté the bacon until it is crisp. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels, reserving the fat in the pan. Coarsely chop the bacon and set aside.
Place the leeks into the pan with the bacon fat and sauté for a minute or two, or until the leeks are tender.
In a bowl, combine milk, flour, eggs, and sea salt and beat the mixture until it is smooth.
Stir into the batter in 1 cup of Gruyère, ⅔ of the chopped bacon, and the leeks. Spoon the batter into muffin tin until they are ⅓ full. Sprinkle evenly with remaining Gruyère and bacon.
Bake popovers for 15 minutes at 450°F, then reduce oven to 375°F and bake about 10 to 12 minutes more (or until the popovers are golden brown). When done, remove from the oven and poke a hole in the top of each popover. This will help to release steam and prevent them from getting soggy. Serve immediately.