Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"she don't care how the sweets taste"

the food: Blueberry Muffins
the song: "California English" Vampire Weekend

Today I present to you a cautionary tale of hubris with a happy, muffin-filled ending.

A few days ago...

Me: I went to the store today. I got you some of that good blueberry cereal.

The Husband: Oh cool. Thanks. You know what's better than blueberry cereal? Blueberry muffins.

Me: Well...yeah...obviously. [pause] Would you like me to make some blueberry muffins?

The Husband: Mmmmm! Yeah! But they have to be really good.

Me: Uh, yeah, I've made blueberry muffins before.

The Husband: But I want these to be REALLY good. Like...the top of the muffin has to be the biggest part. With some of those good crumbs on top. And I don't want anything weird in there.

Me: [silence]

The Husband: Like no maple syrup or dates or wheat flour.

Me: Ok, so just an unhealthy, fatty awesome rich muffin?

The Husband: YEAH!

Before I go on, let me assure you that I do not relate any of this to make the husband look bad. Without him, I wouldn't be half the cook I am today. He is an incredibly adventurous, supportive, complimentary, up-for-anything taste tester. But a man wants what he wants, and sometimes that includes blueberry muffins.

Needless to say, I walked away from this conversation feeling a bit challenged. Truthfully, for sweets to interest me they have to be...well...interesting. "Fine, " I thought. "How hard can basic blueberry muffins really be? If I can make flax seed and applesauce banana bread taste good, I'll have no problem with butter and sugar." I promised muffins would be on the table the next morning.

Problem one arose when I started assembling ingredients. I'd made a quick run to the store to pick up blueberries with the certainty that I had everything else I needed at home. I realized right away that I was out of muffin cups. No biggie, right? If I oiled down the muffin tin enough it shouldn't be a huge deal.

Flour, on the other hand, is a muffin making necessity. And I was running low. (By the way...what the what?? How does a girl who loves to cook only have a cup of flour in the house? The horror!). Insert "weird" ingredient number one. While I only had 1 cup of flour, I did have a 1/2 cup rolled oats. Rather than admit defeat in Muffin Making 101, I decided to work with what I had.

I took the rest of my muffin making cues from a few bakers that never run out of flour. First, I included 1/4 cup of plain greek yogurt to fluff them up and make them extra moist. I picked up this trick from Savory Sweet Life 's blueberry muffins that call for sour cream. It's a genius move. Don't underestimate the power of this trick. The second trick comes from cutie pie Joy the Baker, who includes browned butter in her muffins. Again, this step adds a rich extra layer of flavor to the muffins.

How did they turn out, you ask. Well...they needed more flour. But otherwise, they were actually very good. Like a lot of baked goods, they were even better the next day. I'm amending the recipe to include the correct amount of flour. Same goes for the topping. Our muffins were topped with brown sugar, butter, and toasted walnuts. It made for a delicious rich top that melted into the muffin and gave it a semi crisp bite. Next time, the flour will create the "good crumbs on top" as per request. I left the oatmeal in, though, because I like the additional texture. Also, it's hard for me to bake without something earthy in there.

As I was pulling the muffins out of the oven, the husband rounded the corner. 

Me: Now listen...these aren't the muffins you asked for. These don't count. I get a redo.

The Husband: Alright! More muffins next week! [takes bite of not-so-pretty muffin] MMMMM! Baby, you're amazing. These are GREAT!

And that's why I love him.

Blueberry Muffins

For the topping:
1/2 cup toasted, chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts work well)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
12/ teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the muffins:
6 tablespoons butter
juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup of sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. of vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 1/2 cups of AP Flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tsp. of baking powder
1/2 tsp. of salt
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

To make the topping, stir together the flour, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Add the butter pieces and combine the mixture with a fork or your clean hands until the topping resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Keeping a close eye on the pan, cook the butter until little brown bits appear in the pan. The butter will get brown pretty quickly. Once it does, remove from heat.

Whisk eggs, yogurt, lemon juice, and vanilla until combined.  Add the brown butter and stir to combine.

Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl  Add yogurt and butter mixture all at one and stir gently to combine.  Batter will be nice and thick. Gently fold in blueberries and pour batter into muffin tin lined with paper cups 3/4 cup full.

Sprinkle topping on each muffin and bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.


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