Saturday, July 18, 2009
My major mission this Saturday had nothing to do with muffins. No, my critical mission took the form of an ice cream cake, constructed in concert with my son in preparation for his early 13th birthday celebration, a celebration that took place this evening. It was nothing fancy, but still it was a sight: two thick, dark chocolate cake layers, with a hefty layer of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between, iced on the top and sides with sweetened whipped cream, and coated on the sides with crushed chocolate cookie crumbs. Holy moly. Now that's a cake for a 13 year old boy's birthday. No decorations. No fondant. No candles shaped like big numbers. No bright colors. It turned out just exactly as we'd hoped and, by golly, if it wasn't the tallest cake I think I've ever had a hand in producing. Tall. Humorously tall. Anyway, I should shut up about it until I have some photographic evidence to show you. More about that cake in another post, okay? Now as for muffins . . .
Despite the ice-cream cake mandate, I found myself compelled to make a few fresh and fruity muffins this morning. A container of strawberries in the fridge, just on the cusp of being overripe, beckoned to me. Likewise some lovely blueberries. The prospect of a crunchy oat-streusel topping sealed the deal. Saturday mornings were just made for berry-stuffed muffins. And, of course, coffee. (Don't ever forget the coffee. Please.)
This recipe gives you a baker's dozen or so of regular sized muffins. They are cakey but not too delicate and fragile. The small bit of oats in the batter lends a little extra substance, and echoes the oats in the streusel. You can use any berries in these, as long as they're not soaking wet.
Tomorrow's Sunday. Sunday's a good muffin day too. Maybe you should make some?
Double Berry Muffins with Streusel Topping
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 regular size, or 6 jumbo size, muffin cups with paper liners or use baking spray liberally.
2 cups All Purpose flour, bleached
3 Tbsp. quick or old fashioned oats
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 oz. unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup of chopped ripe strawberries, patted dry with paper towel to remove excess juice
3/4 cup blueberries
For the streusel topping:
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup All Purpose flour
2 oz. unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. finely chopped pecans or walnuts, if you like (I used pecans in the muffins pictured)
Measure the dry ingredients -- flour, oats, baking powder, and salt -- into a bowl and set aside.
Make the streusel: Put all streusel ingredients in a medium bowl and mix them together well with a pastry blender or fork. When it's thoroughly mixed, put the bowl in the fridge; that will keep the butter in it cold until you're ready to use it.
In a separate small bowl, whisk the milk, egg, and vanilla extract just until combined. Set aside.
In a large mixer bowl, using the paddle attachment, cream the sugar and butter together until smooth and light; at least 3 minutes. Alternately with the dry ingredients, add in the milk and egg mixture in a couple of additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Blend on low speed until just combined, then increase your speed to medium and mix for about two more minutes.
Taking your bowl off the mixer now, pour the berries in and fold gently by hand, just until they're evenly distributed. Don't mix too much or your muffins might be not only tough and rubbery, but also grayish purple from the blueberries and pinkish from the strawberries.
Portion your batter into the muffin cups evenly. Sprinkle the top of each one liberally with the streusel. ("Liberally" . . . what a useful word for a baker to have in her lexicon . . . I think I shall pepper my recipes liberally with the word "liberally" from now on.)
Bake the muffins about 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Keep an eye on them while they're baking so the streusel tops don't overbrown; tent a piece of foil loosely over the top of the pan if it looks like that's starting to happen. (Maybe we should start a campaign to nip overbrowning in the bud, fellow bakers. Think we could get federal funding?) Cool the muffins in their pan for about five minutes, then remove them to a rack to finish cooling.
Aren't muffins great? These have so much flavor they really don't require butter. But if you love butter on muffins, be my guest. (Hey, who am I to put a crimp in your plans? Butter away!)
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