Some people love Valentines Day.
Some people hate Valentines Day.
Everybody loves muffins.
During my undergrad in Nutrition, I was taking a class called “Food Service.” It sounded simple enough.
“Serve food,” I thought to myself. “I can do that.”
And then I found myself smack dab in a cooking lab, grilling Australian lamb chops, making peanut brittle, and homemade mayonnaise.
It’s a little ironic that the toughest thing I had to overcome was the muffin.
Yes. The simple muffin.
Simple to look at. Simple to eat. And supposedly, even more simple to make.
And yet, batch after batch, my muffins always turned out gummy. Tough. Bread like. My professor took it upon herself to look over my shoulder. Studying my every movement. Making sure that I was following all the steps exactly right.
And then—suddenly—she found what she was looking for. “The muffin mixing method!” She exclaimed loudly. Triumphantlly. “Don’t forget the muffin mixing method!”
I think to say that she was a proud of herself when she realized what was wrong is an understatement. She looked as if she had just witnessed her baby taking his first steps.
The problem was that I was mixing the dry ingredients directly in with the wet ingredients, rather than separating them first (oops!) I blamed it on the fact that I didn’t have a recipe in front of my face, telling me to do this. My professor just smiled, dumped out my previous batch and told me to try again.
I still experiment in the kitchen.
I still make mistakes.
I still love muffins.
Blueberry Muffins—recipe taken from Cooks Illustrated Light, with changes.
This recipe calls for cake flour, which naturally has a lower gluten content than regular, all-purpose flour. This produces a finer crumb in your final batch of muffins. But, of course, if you don’t happen to have cake flour in your pantry, you can just substitute with all-purpose or whole wheat flour for equally tasty results. Enjoy!
- 1-1/2 c. plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
- 1 c. cake flour
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 c. plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp juice from one lemon
- 1 tsp grated zest from 1 lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 c. plain low-fat yogurt
- 2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray with cooking spray. Whisk 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 cup wheat flour, cake flour , baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1/4 c. of the sugar together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Beat an aditional 1/2 c. sugar and butter together with a mixer, until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla until incorporated.
- Reduce mixer speed to low. Beat in one-third of the flour mixture until just incorporated, followed by one-third of the yogurt, scraping down the bowl as needed. Repeat this process twice more, alternating between the remaining flour mixture and the yogurt until the ingredients are just incorporated. Do not overmix.
- Toss blueberries with the remaining all-purpose flour, then gently fold them into the batter with a rubber spatula. Using a large ice-cream scoop or measuring cup, divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, and sprinkle the tops with the remaining Tbsp. sugar. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then flip them out onto a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Question: What do you find “tough” to make? What do you find “easy” to make?