Friday, August 2, 2013

Let’s Talk About Muffins

That’s right, muffins. Not just any muffins, but the absolute best muffins I have ever had. I prefer a muffin that is moist, slightly spongy with just enough spring upon taking a bite, more dense than a cake but not like bread and of course it has to look appetizing. For those who say that a muffin is just a cupcake sans the frosting should give one of these muffins and asked if they still hold that opinion after trying it. If your muffins are like a cupcake then there is something seriously wrong.

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Muffins tend to get a bad name of being too dry, crumbly, lacking in flavor, and overall unappealing. I tend to think that they are for the indecisive. For the person who wants the density of a light bread and the flavor of a cake without the sweetness of the cap of overly-sweet, coma inducing frosting. It’s hard to find cupcakes with the right ratio of frosting to cake, and one that has a light frosting with a moist, flavorful cake is a rarity at least in these parts of town. If you think the cake is not as important as the frosting, think again. The cake is everything. It’s the vehicle on which that mound of fluffy sweetness is delivered. Because the cakes are often disappointingly dry I end up scraping off the frosting and eating it by itself. I realize this is similar to the eating habits of a 12 year-old, but I just cannot get past the dry cake and I cannot bear the thought of wasting a perfectly good serving of frosting.   

Obviously cupcakes are a whole different post in themselves. I will be making some in the near future and will share my experience with the pursuit for the perfect cupcake.  

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Getting back to the muffins, I’d like to point out that the original recipe for this muffin was found on Pinterest which then linked me to the BAKER upstairs’ blog. Is it sad when you start turning to Pinterest for recipes instead of the 50+ cookbooks that you have sitting on the shelf in the other room collecting dust? I thought so. Still, I shamelessly go to Google or Pinterest to find inspiration for a recipe and more often than not I will judge a recipe based on the picture attached to it. A little tidbit of advice, do not do this, especially when searching user based recipe databases because more often than not the picture you see is not a professional picture or of professional quality. It is a home cook with a camera who is under no obligation to make the picture look “pretty”. It is a photo of real food and real results. This is why sometimes I like to look at recipes that do not have pictures that way I am forced to read through the ingredients. It makes me visualize what it will look like and how it will taste. Muffins are humble in their own way and perhaps this is why they are hard to photograph. They just do not grab your attention. Really, do not judge a book (or muffin) by its cover (or picture). 

When I saw this recipe I noted two things: the title of the recipe and the pictures. I scanned the ingredient list to make sure we had everything and I proceeded to make them without even thinking about the ratios of berries/dry ingredients/butter. Fortunately, these muffins turned out to be perfect in every way. I used frozen berries because it was late at night and we did not have any fresh. I also had to use almond milk because we were out of cow’s milk. I probably should have drained the berries after they thawed because there was a lot of liquid that poured off when I added them to the batter. With that said, I think that extra liquid helped the muffins to remain moist. If I make them again I will drain off any excess liquid and give it a go. I will say that because of the liquid the muffins had a greyish/blue hue to the batter which came out looking like mold in some parts. Mmmm. Penicillin anyone? That did not bother me though. If you want to be picky about the presentation and decide to use frozen berries and the drained liquid, might I suggest that you do not use blue cupcake liners as these will make the muffins look even more molded than if you used white liners.

 

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Happy Baking!

Bakery-Style Triple Berry Muffins

Adapted from the BAKER upstairs

Prep time: 10 minutes

Baking time: 15-20 minutes

For the Muffins:

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup melted butter

1 egg

1/3 cup almond milk (regular milk is fine)

1 1/2 cups frozen mixed berries (see note earlier about using frozen berries)

For the streusel:

1/4 cup sugar

5 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. You can also spray with cooking spray, but the liners are a guaranteed way to ensure that the muffins will release from the pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, mix together the melted butter, egg, and milk. Make sure that you let the butter cool a little before you add the egg and milk as they will curdle if added to hot butter. After combined, add to the dry ingredients.

Fold in the berries (and liquid if using).

I filled the liners about 3/4 the way full and the muffin tops did not expand too much. You can fill them less if you want smaller muffins.

Make the streusel by whisking together the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until a crumbly mixture that resembles wet sand forms (you can also use a food processor for this step just be careful not to cut the butter too small).

Sprinkle the topping over the muffins and bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned on top. I ended up cooking mine for 25 minutes before the tester came out clean.

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