Sunday, March 27, 2011

Muffin Madness: America Muffins

If you don’t like these muffins you don’t like America.

My husband and I recently moved into a new house in East Nashville from the suburbs and we want to have people over to see the new digs. So we had a small party themed: America! (the idea was not mine, but my friend Monica’s). It was like Independence Day in March. But with more cold, rain, and staying inside. But we still managed to grill out, have a fire, and eat lots of food.

Of course for an America party we needed America muffins. Andy wanted to dye the muffins red or blue. When I worked at a bagel shop one summer they dyed the plain bagels red and blue, and unfortunately the colors blended and the end result was odd-looking purple bagels. So I wasn’t into dying the muffins. But I remembered making blueberry muffins once with frozen blueberries and the batter turned blue from the squished berries, so I thought that might work well. It didn’t.

Even without blue muffins, I could achieve the red, white and blue with blueberries, strawberries and a cream cheese center. And that worked just great! The official muffin tatser, Andy declared that the muffins were fluffy, though they had too much fruit to stay together well. Additionally, these were the healthiest tasting muffins he’s had in Muffin Madness. I made a strawberry cream cheese topping that even my cat Buster enjoyed while the rest of us were out around the fire.

All balled up and ready to roll.

Some recipe notes: I used up the rest of my buttermilk and then topped it off with regular (soy) milk. Either would work well for this recipe. One thing that I learned from Cookwise by Shirley Corriher is that heavy ingredients, such as blueberries and strawberries, stay up not because you dredged them in flour, but due to the thickness of the batter. As a result this is a thick batter that can hold up the berries and the cream cheese, and I stir the berries in at the end. Since the official tester thought there were too many berries, I cut the amount of each from a heaping half cup, to simply a half cup. Last, if you want to make a cream cheese topping reserve some cream cheese (I bought an 8 oz. package and used the leftovers for the topping), chop up a few strawberries, a little powdered sugar and stir together vigorously. It helps to refrigerate this and let your muffins cool completely before applying.

The Good Stuff
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

1 cup milk/buttermilk (you may need just a tad over 1 cup, stir the batter together to get a feel for if you need more)
¼ cup melted butter
Zest of 1 lemon
1 egg

½ cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
½ cup strawberries, chopped
3 oz cream cheese (or more if you’d like a topping)

The Elbow Grease
  1. Whisk together your flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.
  2. In another bowl, beat your egg. Add milk, lemon zest, and melted butter. Stir until combined. Add chopped strawberries and blueberries.
  3. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir carefully until fully combined. Portion out ½ of the batter for each muffin into the tin.
  4. Cut up cream cheese enough for 12 muffins. Roll into little balls, if you care about esthetics. Add a ball to each ½ fill muffin cup. Top with remaining batter.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Turning once. Poke with a toothpick to ensure done. Let cool completely before topping. U.S.A.!!

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