Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lemon Verbena and Olallieberry Crumble Muffins

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
2 eggs
1 cup (230 g) whole milk
160 g olallieberries, frozen

for topping
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.



  1. I am trying to reach into my screen... and man, that second to last shot (of the eggs) is killing me. 

  2. I have never seen olallieberries anywhere before!  I feel like I have to try them stat! The combo of lemon and fruit is a forever favourite of mine so these look delicious.

  3. I love all the photographs in each recipe!!! Congrats :)

  4. Always fun when bloggers get together, I can only imagine what fun you two had. The eggs are gorgeous as is the whole post. The crumble--I could go for a big handful of them right now. 

  5. Those muffins look so delicious. I love making them.

  6. These muffins look so beautiful I almost wouldn't want to eat them! (key word - almost)

  7. Wow, I can't believe you haven't made muffins! They're so easy! Also, I'm jealous that you have access to pretty eggs and olallieberries.

  8. For someone who's never made muffins before you've done a simply stunning job on these. I love the look of those sweet jammy berries sinking into the crusty golden batter...just gorgeous.

  9. Rocky Mountain WomanApril 25, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    What a great combo!  I need those in my life...

  10. I have never heard of these berries, nor have I seen them., however the muffins look cool. What a fun and useful things to do ...painting backgrounds, now yiu have me thinking. Good luckj with the bakesale.. a great cause

  11. My comments dont seem to come up with a http

  12. This really does sound like the perfect combination! And really, when it comes to pulling something off with what you got on hand, it most usually turns out flawless. I love crumble-top muffins as well-- really no other way to have them in my book. :)

  13. Olallieberries!? I had to look those up and now I'm looking through all your other (lovely) recipes with them. Feeling deprived over here on the East Coast!

  14. Robyn@Africa my AfricaApril 26, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    I've never heard of the berries-but will splash out on some blueberries for the recipe...(soft fruit can be expensive here in Nairobi)-but the mffins look divine!

    Africa, My Africa

  15. The photography is stunning and I'm drooling over these muffins. I've honestly never heard of olallieberries, but sign me up to try them this way anytime ;) Very impressive. I am featuring this post in today's Food Fetish Friday roundup (with link-back and attribution), but please let me know if you have any objections. As always, it's a pleasure to be following your creations...

  16. Lovely muffins and lovely photos. I am still sucking my laptop screen.

  17. Yum! I recently made berry muffins and unfortunately they're all gone! Going to have to make some more now!

  18. Wow, amazing shots! I can't believe they are real (especially the egg colors ;-) ). And I don't know anything about verbena, but I bet it tastes great, based on the looks of these muffins.


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