Cookbook Challenge: Mad about Muffins

Every summer since I met my lovely wife, we’ve taken a few days to visit her family’s home-away-from-home in Wells, Maine. They rent a beach house out on the sandbar for a week or two and invite the family to come up. We have to rotate through because it’s not a very big house, but we’ll generally try to get there while some other family is around, since it’s nice to see family outside of the usual holidays and birthdays that usually bring us together.

In recent years, we’ve made an effort to visit Spiller Farm while we’re there. This is a kind of unique farmstand (think fresh local veggies, imported watermelons, and lobsters in tanks) that has a pick-your-own component as well. When we get there, it’s usually pick-your-own highbush blueberries, among other things — we’ve gotten corn, carrots, tomatoes as well as the usual fruits in the past. We make a point of picking lots and lots of blueberries — about a gallon, if we can. Of course, many blueberries are eaten in the process, and occasionally we just throw them up in the air and try to catch them in our mouths.

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When we get back from Wells, I pack the blueberries up into 2-cup servings in freezer bags and freeze them. It may be months before I get around to using them but they’re still delicious.

Recently, we had a houseguest staying with us, and I decided I’d up my breakfast game and make some muffins. So I entered the cookbook challenge again. This time, I’m using a book called “Mad About Muffins“. There are great recipes — from basic bran muffins to “Taco Muffins” that use salsa and meat drippings. But for now, as you can probably imagine, I’m sticking with a basic, classic blueberry muffin.

Caveat: I don’t know the rules about posting recipes out of someone’s cookbook, but I’m going to hope that if I’m doing it in the pursuit of promoting their cookbook they’ll be OK with it. However, this recipe is written more narratively and also has some tweaks that make it a little different (but not a lot). Nevertheless, if I get a C&D order I’ll have to take it down.

Blueberry “Mad About” Muffins

Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Soften 3/4 stick of salted butter and mix with 2/3 cup of sugar (I use Florida Crystals or some other fine-grain minimally-processed sugar) until well combined. Beat in 2 eggs. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract (I recommend Penzey’s if you can get your hands on it), and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. Add a cup of all-purpose flour, mix in. Add 1/4 cup of milk, mix in. Add another cup of flour and another 1/4 cup of milk, as well as 2 cups of blueberries fresh from the bush — or the freezer — and mix until just combined. Try not to crush the blueberries too much.

Grease a muffin tin (or use muffin cups, which is what I did) and evenly distribute the mixture into 12 muffin-shaped depressions. Finally, take 1/4 stick of softened butter and mix with 2 tbsp of cinnamon sugar (or 2 tbsp of brown sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp of cinnamon). The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts as well but if you don’t have any, just double the butter/sugar mixture (1/2 stick of butter and 4tbsp of cinnamon sugar). Put a dollop of the mixture on each muffin and bake them for 25-30 minutes.

Muffins

The muffins turned out great, and were gone within 24 hours. We have no self-control, evidently. The stuff that was supposed to be streusel topping just ended up giving each muffin a slight sugary glaze. This was also the first test of the Baker’s Edge pan I got last Christmas. Why, you ask? I have no idea. It’s just a well-made muffin pan; the company claims the shape is good for something but I think it’s just an interesting gimmick to set them apart from other kitchenware makers. Since they’re well made, I don’t mind buying into the gimmick. I really love their brownie pan too, but I like edges so it makes sense.

I’ve got more food posts lined up, so keep an eye on this space.

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