Muffins! It's a wee tad unbelievable and insane that I actually have never made muffins (from scratch--plenty of box stuff as a kid) before!
Over the weekend, the talented Julie of always with butter came down from the North-ish East Bay to spend a day doing bloggy and photography-obsessive things, like paint new backgrounds, coo over the most beautiful eggs at the local farmers' market, jump up and down excitedly over the 99-cent organic flavored butters we stumbled upon at the store, and teach me endless things that I didn't know about goats' milk and goats' cheese. (Seriously, this girl makes her own chevre. That's how bad-ass cool she is! Previously, I just thought the coolest thing I could make with goats' milk was cajeta.) Painting new photography backgrounds took up most of our time during the day since we had to wait for paint to dry, so towards the last wee bit hours of sunlight, we decided we still had time for a quick baking session--after all, it would be a shame for two bakers to get together without actually pulling something out of the oven!
Since we were running a tad short on time, we had to (unfortunately) nix our original idea of making cinnamon rolls and were trying to decide on what to make instead when Julie unearthed the shocking truth that I had never before made muffins. It's just one of those things that was always on my list of things to do but never really percolated to the top amidst all of the other things I wanted to bake. As for flavors, I had a few insistences (cause I'm particular like that. :P). First, if I made muffins, they would have to have a crumble topping, cause why wouldn't they! Then, we had to find a way to incorporate my crazy over-producing lemon verbena plant that I just purchased a few weeks ago and is already growing like nobody's business. Finally, I remembered that I still had a bag of frozen olallieberries from last season in my freezer--because I hoard flats of it every year for enjoying year round--that needed to be cleaned out before the next olallieberry season begins. Hence, lemon verbena and olallieberry crumble muffins! :)
The lemon verbena flavor in these are subtle but lend a hint of brightness and lemony scent to the whole muffin, which goes so well with the sweet darkness of the olallieberries. The berries turned out to be a great alternative to the more muffin-classic blueberries, because they're just as sweet as the blueberries (i.e., sweeter than blackberries) and they sort of melt into the muffin batter during baking, creating these amazing pockets of jammy goodness. Julie shared the trick that frozen berries are less likely to sink into the batter, which worked like a dream and produced muffins where the purples and blues of the olallieberries are immediately visible on the top. And the crumble is possibly my favorite part, with the combination of butter, brown sugar, and flour creating rich golden nuggets to top off the entire muffin. Breakfast magic! :)
[click on photo below for a larger image]
In the news sector, the third annual Bay Area Food Bloggers' Bakesale to help end childhood hunger is happening THIS COMING SATURDAY, April 28, from 11 - 4pm at Omnivore Books' in San Francisco! I'll be there with dark chocolate tarts (caramel might be involved! as might passion fruit! *hint hint*) for the bakesale, and there will be excellent treats from bakers all over the Bay Area there--all for a good cause. If that doesn't whet your interest, baker/chocolatier/cookbook author-extraordinaire Alice Medrich will be there from 3 - 4pm signing copies of her latest book.
Also, also! Stay tuned because next week will come the announcement and unveiling and all the gory details about a biiiiig project that I've been working on for almost the entire past year with Anita Chu of dessert first. If you want a sneak preview, you'll just have to come to the Bakesale this weekend! Hope to see many of you there!
P.S. If you're not in the Bay Area, this bakesale is actually part of a national campaign, with bakesales happening all over the States! Check for your city here.
Read on for recipe....
Lemon Verbena and Olallieberry Crumble Muffins
developed jointly with always with butter
makes 16 muffins
for muffin batter
2 cups (280 g) + 1 Tbspn (9 g) all-purpose flour
2½ tspn baking powder
½ tspn salt
1½ cups (150 g) sugar
10 – 12 lemon verbena leaves
1 stick (113 g) butter
1 cup (230 g) whole milk
160 g olallieberries, frozen
½ cup (70 g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (50 g) dark brown sugar
¼ tspn baking powder
¼ tspn salt
½ stick (57 g) butter, cold
1. for muffin batter. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare non-stick muffin pans with 16 muffin liners. Set aside.
2. In a bowl, whisk to combine 2 cups (280 g) flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. Place the sugar in another small bowl. Tear the lemon verbena leaves, and use your fingers to rub the leaves into the sugar.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 – 3 minutes.
5. Gradually add the lemon verbena sugar to the butter and continue beating until smooth.
6. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating well between each addition.
7. Beat in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk. Mix until just combined.
8. Divide the batter amongst the prepared muffin tins.
9. Coat the olallieberries with one tablespoon of flour. Divide the olallieberries and place on top of the batter.
10. for topping. In a bowl, combine the flour, dark brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry or fork until the butter is the size of small peas. Spoon on top of the muffin batter.
11. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out cleanly and the edges turn golden.
12. Remove from oven, let cool briefly, and remove the muffins from the pans. Let the muffins cool completely on a wire rack.
Note: I've only tried this recipe with olallieberries, but I could imagine it working quite nicely with blueberries or blackberries, too.