Muffins are a go-to coffee shop food purchase – and a flawed one. They’re usually way bigger than they should be. They can be too greasy. You don’t always have options for what’s inside them. But for me, the biggest dealbreaker may be that they’re rarely warm out of the oven.

That warmth is one of the many rewards for making your own muffins at home. Sure, as with many other baked goods, your recipe might recommend letting them cool completely. But why wait? I’ve never had a muffin suffer from being torn open while warm, and even if it did, it’s worth it, in my opinion.

After switching between a couple of different recipes over the years, I now have a new favorite. It’s from cookbook author Nick Malgieri, by way of his friend Cara Tannenbaum.

There’s a lot to love about this recipe. The multipurpose batter comes together in one bowl, and it’s a great starting point for your choice of add-ins. We’ve given you several variations below from Malgieri, but if you want to come up with your own, pay attention to his amounts. For fresh fruit, your volume of add-ins should be no more than 1 1/2 cups. For nuts, dried fruit and chocolate chips, don’t go above 1 cup. Add flavorings such as citrus zests or extracts in with the liquid; anything solid should be folded in after the last of the flour.

Another great thing about this recipe is you don’t have to worry about overmixing the batter. We have been admonished not to stir our batter too much for fear of tough muffins. Overmixing can cause the formation of too much gluten – the strong protein structure that forms when flour and liquid meet is good when you’re making something like bread, but not muffins. However, in this recipe, the presence of butter and sugar interferes with gluten formation, which is why you can whisk in most of the flour without ending up with a rubbery end result. Even if you have folded in the last of the flour so much that there are no dry streaks remaining (many other recipes want you to leave some flour visible), don’t worry. These will bake up tall, tender and moist.

You may never look at a coffee shop muffin the same way again.

All-Purpose Muffins

Made with melted butter instead of oil, these simple muffins have an incredibly tender crumb.

The plain batter takes to a number of add-ins; see the variations, below, for ideas. The total volume of add-ins should be no more than 1 to 1 1/2 cups for fresh fruit, and 1 cup for chocolate chips, dried fruit and/or nuts.

The muffins are at their best when freshly made, but they can be tightly wrapped in plastic or stored in an airtight container for a day or two. Freeze, individually wrapped in plastic and sealed in a zip-top bag, for up to several months.

Adapted from a recipe at NickMalgieri.com, based on an original recipe from Cara Tannenbaum.

Makes 12 muffins

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1 large egg

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line the wells (12) of a standard-size muffin pan with baking paper liners.

Pour the melted butter into a mixing bowl; whisk in the egg until thoroughly blended and then whisk in the milk. (At this point, you would also mix in additions such as lemon zest and/or vanilla or almond extract.) Whisk in the sugar.

Add the baking powder, salt and one-third of the flour, whisking until completely incorporated. Whisk in another third of the flour. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the last of the flour to form a thick, mostly smooth batter. Gently fold in any add-ins to the batter, if using, such as blueberries and chocolate chips.

Distribute the batter evenly among the wells. (A No. 16 disher makes quick work of this, or you can use a 1/4-cup measure.) Bake (middle rack) for about 20 minutes, until the muffins have risen well and are golden; the tip of a sharp knife inserted into the center of one should come out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool (in the pan) briefly if serving right away, or cool completely if storing.

VARIATIONS:

For blueberry muffins, add 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest to the liquids. After mixing the batter, fold in 1 1/2 cups rinsed, dried and picked-over (or frozen) blueberries. Use 2 tablespoons of sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon to sprinkle over the tops of the muffins before baking.

For lemon poppy seed muffins, add 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest to the liquids. Mix in 2 tablespoons poppy seeds after the last addition of flour.

For chocolate chip muffins, add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract to the liquids. After mixing the batter, fold in 1 cup of your choice of chocolate chips. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with sugar (2 tablespoons total) before baking.

To make old-fashioned jam muffins, add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest to the liquids. Fill the paper liners in the pan halfway with batter and dollop about a teaspoon of your favorite jam or preserves in the center. Add the rest of the batter, being careful to cover the jam completely.