This morning I noticed we had too many blueberries in the fridge. So while my husband went out for a run, I opened the windows wide (to cool the apartment), turned on the oven and made some fresh breakfast food.
It had been two decades or so since I’d baked anything like these. My recollection, mainly from my suburban childhood, was that muffins involved a fair amount of work; we used to pull out a mix-master with beaters, a flour-sifter, and all sorts of stuff that then had to be cleaned. That was far too much work for me this morning.
So I simplified and halved an old recipe I’d hand-written sometime back in my Moosewood years. And I adjusted it so there’d be less sugar, and swapped whole milk for skim.
Preparation time: 8 – 15 minutes, depending on your proficiency in the kitchen; Baking time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (for 8 small muffins):
1/4 cup softened butter (vegetable oil is OK, too; some people say that improves the texture and taste of the baked goods, but I’m not convinced and try to minimize chemicals in my cooking.)
2/3 cup sugar
1 large beaten egg
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup flour (I used organic, which I happened to have, and didn’t bother sifting it)
optional: cinnamon, ~ 1/4 teaspoon
ripe blueberries, about 2 cups, washed
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (F)
2. Use a fork to smash the butter at the base of a deep, medium-sized bowl;
3. Add the beaten egg and mush everything together;
4. Add in the sugar, stir with a fork or large spoon;
5. Add the milk, swirl everything together with the spoon;
6. Add the salt and baking powder, mix thoroughly at this point to evenly distribute the salt and powder;
7. Add the flour, and mix again.
(This step completes a basic muffin batter.)
8. Now, add the fruit.* For blueberries: With extra-clean hands, grab a fistful of washed blueberries and squeeze them into the batter for flavoring. Then add in the remaining whole berries and mix those around, gently.
9. Insert paper cupcake holders into the holes of an oven-proof muffin tray. Drop about 1/3 cup of batter into each cup, not overfilling.
10. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees in the center of the oven.
11. Remove from the oven. (If you’re compulsive, as I am: insert and withdraw a toothpick with a quick in-out stroke; if the muffins are cooked, raw batter won’t stick. If batter does stick to the toothpick, put the muffins back in the oven for 5 minutes or longer, until they’re done.)
If you follow these instructions, you can make fresh muffins with minimal equipment and little to clean up. You can freeze and store the muffins, no problem, once they’ve cooled.
*There are countless fruit variations and other add-ins you might use. This morning I prepared half of the batter using a ripe, diced banana and a fistful of cut-up walnuts.
Not everything I cook is nutritious. And while I don’t advise eating muffins regularly, as these are essentially confections, I figure if you’re going to serve these to your family, it’s better that they be prepared with fresh ingredients and a minimum of chemicals, sugar, salt and fats. These have some relative advantages over similar breakfast treats:
These lack preservatives;
They’re roughly half the size of typical store-bought muffins (countering the super-sized effect);
They’re made with skim milk instead of whole milk;
They have approximately 2/3 the usual amount of sugar.
Besides, they came out great!
Of course, dear readers, I’d like to know what are the true nutritional benefits in blueberries, and what happens to their putative anti-oxidant properties once they’ve been baked for 1/2 an hour. But I don’t think anyone knows, for sure.