What’s the valedictorian of an Ivy League school to do when working in finance right out of college wasn’t everything he thought it would be? Open a pop-up muffin shop, naturally. That’s exactly what Ben Gifford, who graduated from Dartmouth College in 2010, did when he started his muffin business, Double or Muffin, in San Francisco a few months ago. Double or Muffin, however, is not your average pop-up shop. After customers purchase a muffin (they only cost a dollar!), they get to flip a coin. Heads: you get another muffin of your choosing for free. Tails: you keep the muffin you already have. Hence, double or muffin. Find out what goes into running a prosperous bakery, and get one of Ben’s top muffin recipes after the jump.
The concept began as an inside joke between Gifford and his friend and co-founder of Double or Muffin, Sean Pears, but it has grown into a very successful business that encompasses both muffins as well as apparel featuring the company’s signature logo (You can buy it online here).
Gifford had no real baking experience prior to founding the business, so he spent a long time testing and perfecting recipes before he actually started selling his muffins. “Muffins are not the most complicated food if you work at it,” Gifford says. Since then, Double or Muffin has been popping up around parks all throughout San Francisco, amusing customers with its signature flip-a-coin sales concept. According to Gifford, though Double or Muffin constantly changes its flavor offerings, the two clear best-sellers have been the banana-chocolate chip and maple-bacon-corn muffins. Not every flavor is an instant success, though. “I spent this whole past week trying to make a s’mores muffin where marshmallows were baked into the actual muffin, but it caramelized and tasted horrible.”
Double or Muffin may even be making its way to your neighborhood park soon, as Gifford said he would love to expand the business to other cities. He said he would like to evolve the pop-up shop into a permanent location further down the line. “I would like it to be a really comfortable cafe where people can do work and have meetings and where there are performances at night – more of a neighborhood space.” Muffins, however, will always remain the focal point of the business, and Gifford hopes to continue to push the boundaries of this popular baked good. “I see Double or Muffin as being a pioneer for the development of the savory muffin,” he says. “Muffins are like the sandwich of baked goods – you can put anything in them.”
A muffin-making tip from Ben: “If a recipe calls for milk, it is worth experimenting with yogurt and seeing what you get. You can get a moister, richer muffin base.”
Double or Muffin’s Banana Nutella Surprise Muffins
Makes 12 large muffins
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup white sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 large bananas
1 stick of butter
1 jar Nutella
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the muffin pan with non-stick spray. Mix dry ingredients together. Melt the butter in the microwave, then let it cool. Mash the bananas and mix them with the egg and butter. Fold the banana-egg-butter mixture into the dry ingredients (do not overmix). Fill each cup in the muffin pan until 1/3 full. Scoop a rounded teaspoon of Nutella into the middle of each cup. Top each cup with the rest of the batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Try these other delicious muffin recipes from Cooking Channel: