Last week I ran far, far away from home, where it’s been six-digit temperatures for the better part of the summer, in to the cool, loving arms of Portland, Oregon. I’ve never been to that part of the country and I can say it was just about love at first sight. To you Portlanders – well done! It’s one of the most beautiful, friendly, genuinely unique places I’ve ever visited.
I took in the scenic hikes at Mt. Hood, enjoyed tastings at local wineries, had lunch at the downtown food carts, and even picked up a bottle of honey (my go-to souvenir for any vacation). One of the things I loved the very most were the blackberries. They were very much in season while I was there, with many restaurants advertising all sorts of blackberry treats. The ones I enjoyed most were right out of a basket at the Portland Farmers Market on the PSU campus. Plump, juicy, and perfectly sweet… they were a far cry from any blackberry I’m used to having in Kansas.
When I returned home, I couldn’t get that sweet taste out of my mind. So this weekend, I made due with the blackberries I had access to and made what my husband called the best muffins I’ve ever baked. It seemed only right to share them with you.
I wanted a muffin that would let the blueberries shine, not be too heavy, and complement a breakfast rather than be the main course. I found a recipe that I could easily modify over at DozenFlours.com. Her recipe was great as-is, but I had to add a few of my own tricks to truly make it mine, make it a touch healthier, and help me savor that Portland blackberry flavor I was after.
To start, the dry ingredients were combined, using bread and whole wheat flours with salt, cream of tarter, and baking soda. These were set aside while more exciting work was done.
Then, softened butter was beat with the mixer for about three minutes until it got a little fluffy. To this I added the Truvia (you can use regular sugar but this dramatically saves on calories while protecting the flavor) and beat for another three minutes. At this point it started to get very thick. Finally, the eggs were mixed in. The mixture was so thick and creamy it could practically stand on its own!
The blackberries were rinsed and thrown in a bowl to be muddled and mashed. This lets more of the sweet juice spread through the muffins, which is my preference. If you want a more whole berry in the muffin, then after they are rinsed spread them on paper towels to dry and sprinkle the tops with flour. The flour will help them to hold their shape and prevent bleeding when baking. To the muddled blackberries I add the juice of one lemon. This makes for a bright pop of tartness in each finished bite!
The dry ingredients are then very gently folded together with the wet ingredients (not the blackberries). You don’t want to overwork the batter and it doesn’t have to be completely combined. This keeps the muffins light and airy when they bake.
Finally, the batter is dropped in spoonfuls into sprayed cupcake liners. A light mist will help the muffins pop right out when they’re done. Fill the batter about one-third full, then spoon a bit of blackberries with juice on top, and finish with a small scoop of batter.
These are placed in a 400 degree oven and given about 15-20 minutes to bake. Your nose will tell you when they’re ready if your timer doesn’t first! The smell is just as delicious as these little muffins taste right out of the oven. They’re moist, light, and terrifically sweet. If the honey wasn’t a sweet enough reminder of my Northwest vacation, then these blackberry muffins will be a souvenir I can make anytime I need to summon that refreshing experience.
Makes 18 muffins; 106 calories each
1 1/4 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tarter
1 tsp. salt
6 oz. blackberries, rinsed and set to dry on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup plain 0% fat Greek yogurt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup Truvia
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray 18 muffin cups with paper cupcake liners.
2. Combine the flours, baking soda, cream of tarter, and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Remove a teaspoon or two of the flour and very carefully sprinkle it over the berries. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the milk, vanilla, and Greek yogurt together.
4. Use a mixer to beat the softened butter for three minutes on medium speed until it is white and fluffy. Add to this the sugar and beat for another three minutes on medium speed. Add the egg and egg yolk and beat for another two minutes until the mixture is airy and light.
5. Add half of the flour mixture into the wet with half the milk mixture and lemon zest and then fold carefully. Repeat with remaining flour and milk. Some dry spots are OK. Fold the batter as little as possible until it’s fairly well mixed together.
6. Muddle or mash the blackberries using a fork or wooden spoon. Some full berries are fine, but you want a lot of juice. Add to this the lemon juice and stir.
6. Spoon the batter into cupcake liners about 1/3 full. Spoon the blackberries on top of the batter and then top with a little more batter.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Place an oven-safe bowl or cup of water inside the oven while baking to keep the muffins moist.
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September 10th, 2012