When everything works as planned, fresh-baked muffins are a moist, tender and flavorful breakfast pastry. However, despite muffins' simplicity, things can go wrong in several ways. Inaccurate measurements, stale baking powder and overmixing all can cause their texture to suffer. Baking the muffins at too low or high a temperature also can result in substandard muffins, while overbaking leaves them crusty and dry. Most of these faults can't be corrected, but it's sometimes possible to salvage overbaked muffins.
So, a phone call came at entirely the wrong moment and you forgot your muffins in the oven. The first step is to decide how badly overbaked they are. If they're crustier than you'd like but otherwise fine, that's relatively easy to fix. Brush the muffins with milk while they're still hot, and the milk will soften the crust enough to make the muffins enjoyable again. Cream or half-and-half also will work and make the muffins taste slightly richer.
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Glaze or "Soaker"
If the muffins are overbaked enough to become dry on the inside, it's possible to rescue them by using a wet glaze or a "soaker" syrup to soften the crust and moisten the internal crumb. Make a wet glaze by dissolving sugar in lemon juice, for example, or whisking icing sugar into milk. Bakers often boil up a simple sugar syrup, two cups each of water and sugar, to moisten cakes with. It can be flavored with fruit juice, spices or liqueurs for extra flavor. Prick the muffin tops with a toothpick or fork and brush them repeatedly with the syrup.
Unless muffins are burned, the primary difficulty with overbaked muffins is their dryness. An alternative method of moistening them, which doesn't add calories, is to steam them. This is a short-term solution that only makes the muffins palatable until they've cooled, so don't do this until you're ready to serve or eat the muffins. Place the muffins in an electric steamer or in a pot with a steamer insert and leave them in place for five minutes. Serve the warmed muffins immediately.
If the muffins are dry enough that serving them in their original form is not an option, there are still ways to use them. Crumble the muffins and use them to make cake pops. Cut away their thick crusty edges and slice the remainder into finger-thick portions. Dry them in your oven and use them in place of the bread in your favorite bread pudding recipe. Alternately, dry them and crumble them for cake crumbs to use in streusel toppings or pies.