Reader Ellie remarks that the muffin recipe below does indeed look “basic” save for one thing: the sour cream. Is it really necessary? she asks. Won’t it make the batter acidic? First, Ellie, you have a heck of an eye for ingredient lists. Second, yes, exactly. Sour cream will make the batter acidic, but that’s by design. As I’ve written before, contrary to popular belief, acids and bases need not be perfectly balanced in a batter. Granted you want to beware of a very alkaline batter since bases can combine with fats to make soaps…which can really ruin your tea time.
On the other hand there’s really nothing wrong with acidic batters or doughs. Where muffins are concerned they serve both to tenderize and create a pleasant tang. However they also do something else that’s pretty neat: they prevent inclusions like berries and chocolate pieces from sinking to the bottom of the mold. How? Because acid causes egg proteins to coagulate. That makes the batter thicker and better able to hold inclusions in suspension until the muffins hit the oven.