A few weeks ago, Kelly sent me an email asking,
“Why is it that when you put freshly baked muffins in an airtight container they get soft and almost mushy/sticky??”
As baked goods begin to stale, the moisture within them migrates to the surface. There’s really no way to keep this from happening, short of loading the muffins with preservatives. Which would defeat much of the purpose of baking from scratch.
If the migrating water has no place to evaporate or absorb, it will remain on the outer crust. Any coarse sugar on top will be dissolved, making the muffin even softer.
This is the main problem with simply placing the muffins in an airtight container. It traps the moisture in, making the muffin tops get soft and sticky.
But you don’t just want to know why it happens, do you? You want to know how to store your muffins so that they don’t dry out or get “mushy.”
I set up six storage systems with two mini muffins each, all from the same batch:
And observed the changes over the course of two days.
If you’re only trying to hold the muffins until breakfast the next morning, simply cover the muffins on a cooling rack with a clean, dry dish towel. Your muffins will still be full of flavor and moisture (but not too much moisture) the next morning, and the raw sugar sprinkles will still be pretty and crystalline.
If you’re traveling or storing the muffins for any longer than one day, line the bottom of a plastic container with paper towels. Line up your muffins, then top with another layer of paper towels before sealing with the lid. The paper towels will absorb the extra moisture, and your muffins will retain most of their texture and flavor.