It takes a certain amount of skill to successfully prepare a delicate angel-food cake or chiffon cake, and it helps greatly if the kids aren't around. Coffee cakes and muffins are much easier and less chancy to bake, which makes them a better option for regular weekday treats. The recipes for both are pretty similar, so it's usually easy to bake your coffee cake recipe as muffins or your muffin recipe as a coffee cake.
Most muffins recipes use a very simple technique, known in the baking profession -- logically enough -- as the "muffin method." You combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and then add the liquid ingredients, including your oil or melted butter, stirring until it's just mixed. Coffee cakes sometimes use the same method, but more often they're made by creaming softened butter or shortening with sugar and then adding the other ingredients. Although the techniques are different, both types of recipe usually include similar ingredients in similar proportions. That makes it possible to change the way you bake the batter.
Coffee Cake to Muffins
If you think your favorite coffee cake recipe would make a great muffin, you're probably right. A recipe that fills a 10-inch Bundt pan or a rectangular 9-by-13-inch pan will make 24 to 36 standard-sized muffins. Divide the batter between your muffin cups, filling each one about two-thirds full. If your coffee cake tends to stick to the pan or contains sticky ingredients such as caramel, spray the paper cups with pan spray to make the muffins easier to remove. Bake the muffins for 20 to 30 minutes, until the tops are springy and a toothpick comes out clean.
Muffins to Coffee Cake
Converting your muffin recipe into a coffee cake isn't much more difficult. A standard-sized muffin takes about a half-cup of batter, so if your recipe makes 24 muffins, that's roughly 12 cups. It should be enough to fill a 10-inch Bundt pan, a square 9-by-9-inch or 10-by-10-inch pan, or a rectangular 9-by-13-inch pan. A thin cake in a large pan typically takes 30 to 35 minutes, while a deeper cake takes 35 to 45 minutes, depending on the pan. Test the cake the way you normally would, by inserting a toothpick or cake tester.
In general, the cake and muffins can bake successfully at the same temperature. If you find that your coffee-cake muffins stay relatively flat rather than puffing up in the middle as they should, increase the oven temperature by 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit and shorten the baking time by a few minutes. If you find that your muffin-batter coffee cake gets too dark, or is dry at the edges and doughy in the middle, reduce the oven temperature by the same amount, and increase the baking time by eight to 10 minutes.