Saturday, October 13, 2007

Blackberry Muffins

Blackberry Muffin
After diligently picking blackberries every other day during last few weeks of summer, there's a huge bag of berries in the freezer just waiting to be used. So I made some blackberry muffins (and barely made a dent in the bag of berries). Being a constant recipe fiddler, what I love most about muffins is their flexibility and the endless number of flavor combinations; you can put whatever you want in them (fruit, nuts, spices, chocolate) or on them (streusel, flavored sugar, glazes, etc). I'm a big fan of quick breads like muffins and coffee cake with baked with sour cream or buttermilk instead of regular milk. The goods baked with sour cream and or buttermilk have a subtle, delicious tang and are more tender and moist than the ones baked with milk. When baking muffins, I always use sour cream or buttermilk and also use less sugar and butter because, as much as I love sugary, buttery breakfast goods like gooey sticky buns, I prefer my muffins a little on the lighter side.

For the raspberry muffins with hazelnut brown sugar streusel, I adapted from a Cook's Illustrated recipe and 1 1/4 cups of sour cream and 2 tablespoons of butter. Since I used regular, not low fat, sour cream, I bet I could have gotten away with skipping the butter all together. The problem with this batter is that it was very, very thick, almost too hard to mix.

Second time around, I used 1 1/4 cups buttermilk instead of sour cream for my almond poppyseed muffins. I also upped the butter to 4 tablespoons since buttermilk has much less fat than sour cream. While the batter was more manageable, it was also a little too lean. For a completely buttermilk batter, I would need 6 tablespoons or one stick of butter.

Third time's the charm and this one was just right. I averaged the two recipes, using sour cream for the richness and body and buttermilk to thin out the batter making it easier to mix, and half a stick of butter for additional flavor and richness. I also used brown sugar to make them moister and replaced 1/2 C of all purpose flour with 1/2 cup of whole wheat for even healthier muffins (shh... Steven didn't even notice). I think I am happy with this recipe, for now... :)

- Blackberries are easiest to mix in if they're frozen; fresh blackberries are too delicate and mixing the batter will break them apart. If you have fresh berries freeze them in one layer on a tray until they are solid before mixing them into the batter.
- You can use plain yogurt instead of sour cream or clabbered milk instead of buttermilk (add 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 cup of milk and let it sit at room temperature until thickened or slightly curdled, about 15 minutes).
- If you don't have sour cream and only have buttermilk, use 1 1/4 C of buttermilk and 6 - 8 tablespoons of butter.
- If you don't have buttermilk and only have sour cream, use 3/4 C of sour cream and thin it with 1/2 C of milk.

Blackberry Muffins

2 C AP flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/4 C sugar
1/2 C sour cream
3/4 C buttermilk
4 Tbsp melted butter, cooled
1 1/4 C blackberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray or use paper liners.

Rinse the frozen berries and let them drain in a sieve.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt to evenly distribute. In another bowl, beat the egg, then whisk in the sugar, and sour cream. Whisk until the mixture is throughly combined then add in the buttermilk and melted butter.

Scatter the blackberries in the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients. Gently fold to combine, there should not be large pockets of flour but streaks of flour are okay. Do not overmix the batter.

Divide the batter into your muffin tin with a large spoon or ice cream scoop and bake until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean, about 20 - 25 minutes. Remove them from the pan and cool on a rack.

More Recipes:
Hidden berry cheesecake inspired by Dorie
Almond poppyseed muffins
Raspberry muffins with hazelnut brown sugar streusel
Sticky buns 2.0
Sticky buns

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