I have been blueberry picking twice in my 56 years, and both times were a trip. The first time was in late August in Rhode Island, where berry season comes later in the year. My sister-in-law and I took our young children off to the berry patch for a bucolic afternoon. It turns out that it takes quite a while to pick a gallon of blueberries with children, when about 2/3 of them end up in their bellies instead of the basket.
When we had, after an hour or so, amassed enough berries for a couple of pies (with some left over for sprinkling on cereal), we headed toward the weighing station, and 8-year-old cousin Sarah tripped and spilled the collective supply of berries. The rest of the children burst into tears, but we were able to crawl around on our hands and knees to salvage our pickings. The pies we made were crunchier than usual, studded as they were with tiny pebbles, grass clippings and dead bugs. But delicious nonetheless.
The second berry day occurred just recently, in early April here in Central Florida. I and 3 friends went to the Double C Ranch in Kenansville, and my friend Anja went on a trip of a different variety. After we picked a couple gallons’ worth (this is easier without children), we purchased some treats from the snack bar to reward ourselves. Burgers, fries, and blueberry hand pies, which we washed down with blueberry lemonade.
The next day at work, my friend Anja started itching all over and feeling lightheaded, and had to be rushed to urgent care, which she attributed to the berry pie having been fried in peanut oil, to which she is allergic. One week and a full course of steroids later, Anja made a morning snack of a bagful of the blueberries she had picked. This time, she made it across the office to a coworker’s desk, before beginning to hyperventilate, hallucinating and collapsing on the floor. Another trip to urgent care, where the obvious conclusion was reached that she needed to add blueberries to her list of verboten foods, and she was congratulated by the nurse for boldly handling the snake that had almost taken her out just a week before.
Fortunately, for most people, the procurement and consumption of blueberries is much less fraught, and this brings us to this month’s recipe, Many-Berry Muffins. Because the batter contains a whopping 2 2/3 cups of berries for only 12 large muffins, the finished product is super duper moist. You will devour the chewy muffin lids and the moist, almost clafoutis-like “stumps” with equal zeal. (Not familiar with the muffin lid vs. stump controversy? Allow Elaine Benes and Newman to enlighten you).
The original recipe, on which I’ve riffed here, came from domestic goddess Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa. Uncharacteristically, I made Ina’s recipe lighter by cutting the butter and sugar and adding more berries. Anja declined my muffins for obvious reasons, but her roommate Stacie heaped praise on them, as she often does with my kitchen creations. “You are to Stacie what Ina is to you,” Anja told me.
I told Anja that while I am flattered, she needs to warn Stacie that thou shalt not worship false Inas.
Many Berry MuffinsCourse: Breakfast, BakingDifficulty: Easy
These muffins are EVERYTHING. Sweet and chewy tops, rich and moist bottoms, and so much berry goodness.
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 stick melted butter
1/2 cup canola oil
2/3 cup fresh blueberries
2/3 cup fresh red raspberries
2/3 cup fresh black raspberries
2/3 cup diced strawberries
2/3 cup + 1 Tbs. sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
- In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
- In a second bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, canola oil and melted butter.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the wet mixture, and stir until just combined.
- Add the berries and 2/3 cup sugar and stir gently.
- Scoop batter into muffin liners, filling to the top (there may be a little batter left over).
- Bake for about 15 minutes; remove from oven and sprinkle tops with remaining 1 Tbs. sugar; return to oven and bake for about 10 more minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean and tops are nicely brown.
- Don’t forget to stir in the sugar with the berries. Adding it later makes the outsides a bit crunchier.