As much as I love breakfast, I have to admit that it’s not exactly my forte when it comes to the kitchen. I have yet to find a pancake recipe that yields light and fluffy pancakes. Hence, I am still using pancake mix. I can not flip an omelette to save my life, and don’t even ask me to prepare any sort of breakfast meats because frankly, I have never had any. What I do succeed at, is making the baked goods. I have made fabulous cinnamon rolls and banana bread, yet when it comes to muffins, there has been mixed success. I think the biggest problem with muffin making is choosing the right recipe. A lot of the recipes out there aren’t that good, and they end up yielding a dozen dry and dense rocks. Frustrated with these results, I turned to using cake batter for my muffin base. These were definitely a lot more moist and tender, but they were too soft and sweet to be a breakfast treat. Besides the recipe selection, the second largest problem faced when creating muffins is trying to choose the right flavor combination. Since I am such a food lover, I also strive to go beyond the usual banana-nut and chocolate chip and try to create new and exciting flavor profiles. The results of such endeavours, garbage. Once I tried making a poached pear muffin, well more like just the poaching liquid thrown into the muffin because the pears had turned. The end result was a pile of muffins that had an interesting flavor, but frankly they were pretty awful. Later that year, I really thought that I would get funky and make these olive oil muffins filled with a strawberry balsamic jam. I was so thrilled about this one because I really thought that I could make the sweet and savory thing work. Unfortunately, I was not that experienced back then, and while the muffins were moist, the rich flavor of the extra-virgin olive oil was too much and off-putting to be enjoyed in the morning. Furthermore, my strawberry balsamic jam was a disaster because I ended up slipping a little too much vinegar into the pot. The resulting muffins were so bad that most of them ended up sliding right into the trash.
It has been almost two years since those incidents, and I feel that now I am for sure a much more proficient baker. After reviewing a couple of recipes closely, I chose a blueberry muffin recipe by Gale Gland, a rather well-known pastry chef who has worked at several high-end restaurants in Chicago and once hosted her own Food Network show. As I have been facing a growing desire lately to add my own touch to recipes, I decided to spoon a little blackberry jam into the muffin tins. After a speedy 25 minute baking time, the muffins that emerge out of the oven are glorious domes of tender and slightly moist goodies. They are bedazzled with fresh blueberries which lend a pop of sweet juice, and when you bite into the muffin, a glorious layer of blackberry jam emerges which adds a zing of tang. Best of all, are the muffin tops which I sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar before baking. That results in a texturally-pleasing crunchy top which contrasts so well with the soft muffin. Ah, finally I have made a breakthrough, and muffins are a problem no more!
Adapted from Gale Gland
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups fresh blueberries
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup blackberry jam
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl or mixer, cream the butter and 1 cup of the sugar together until well incorporated. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, the baking powder, vanilla extract, and salt. In a small bowl mash 1/2 cup of the blueberries with the back of a fork and add to the mix. Then add in 1 cup flour and 1/2 of the milk and mix at a low-speed. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk. Fold in the remaining blueberries in by hand.
Line you muffin tin with liners or nonstick spray. Place a spoonful of batter on the bottom of a cup. Place a spoonful of blackberry jam on top and place another spoonful of batter on top of that, so that your muffin cup is about 3/4 full. Repeat with the remaining muffin cups. In small bowl mix the two tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle the tops of the muffins with the mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and risen. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before removing.
- Be sure not overmix the batter, otherwise you will end up with rather dense muffins.
- You can adjust the amount of blueberries to your liking. Use at least a total of 1 1/2 cups of blueberries, but feel free to go as high as over 2 cups if you desire.
- The addition of the jam is purely optional, but I really like the dimension that it adds to the recipe. Any berry jam would work, or perhaps even a lemon marmalade.