Archive for the ‘Muffins’ Category
Strawberries are not always an easy fruit to bake with because they lose some of their texture when they’re in the oven. One way around this is to puree your strawberries and then incorporate the puree into whatever you’re baking – just as I did in these Strawberry Coffee Cake Muffins. The light pink muffins are packed with fresh strawberry and topped off with a generous layer of streusel topping. They’re the perfect coffee cake to enjoy on a spring or summer morning.
The muffins pack a lot of strawberry flavor into a little package, with a whole cup of strawberry puree right in the batter. They’re soft and moist, with a tight crumb that is strong enough to support the buttery brown sugar and vanilla streusel that tops them off. The fresh strawberries naturally color these muffins. I used egg whites rather than whole eggs in this recipe because the yellow of the yolks will actually give the muffins an orangey, rather than a pink, hue and I wanted that natural color to come through as much as possible. I’ve had a lot of strawberry baked goods, but the combination of strawberry and streusel topping has got to be near the top of my list of favorites because it is absolutely delicious.
I used a generous amount of streusel to finish these off. It is sweet from all the brown sugar, but I added a pinch of salt that balances that sweetness and makes it “pop” next to the tender muffin. If you find that you have extra streusel, just pile it even higher and do your best to get it all on top of the muffin. If any streusel tumbles off while baking, you can just consider the crispy crumbs to be an edible bonus for the baker!
I used fresh strawberries to make my puree and highly recommend that you do the same. If you only have frozen berries, you need to defrost them completely and drain them well before pureeing them. The frozen berries likely contain extra water (at least from being defrosted) and that can water down the strawberry flavor of your muffins. These muffins will keep well in an airtight container for at least a day or two, so you could easily make them the day before you want to serve them if you want to bake ahead.
There are many bland cakes, cookies and muffins out there that look picture perfect. And it is always disappointing when that flawless look doesn’t have the flavor to back up that first impression. Then there are other dishes that don’t look too appealing, but deliver a lot of flavor and you go back for more regardless of what it looks like. These Very Cherry Almond Muffins are on the less attractive side of the muffins that I’ve made recently, but their flavor more than makes up for their looks because they are simply delicious – especially if you are a cherry fan.
The muffins taste like a cherry and almond cobbler, and they are absolutely packed with cherries. They are moist, tender and have significantly more cherry flavor than most of the cherry muffins I’ve had. This is because I reduced some cherry juice and incorporated it into the muffin batter. This syrupy juice is a dose of concentrated cherry flavor – unfortunately, although it is very flavorful, it gave the muffins a slightly purple tint because that juice was an intense red color. Eating a purple muffin – especially when I knew that the color came from natural juices and had a ton of flavor – didn’t bother me one bit. It did, however, produce a few quizzical looks from people I served the muffins to, even though any reservations they had disappeared after that first bite.
I used almond meal and almond extract to get the almond flavor into the muffins. If you have some chopped almonds, you could easily sprinkle them on top for a little extra texture, although I sprinkled mine with some sugar for a sweet, slightly crunchy topping.
I used jarred cherries packed in juice for this recipe and reduced some of that juice for the cherry syrup. Frozen cherries will work just as well as mix-ins, although you might not get any cherry juice if you opt for frozen berries. You can either buy your juice separately, or opt for a non-purple muffin and use only buttermilk instead of the cherry reduction in the recipe. Alternatively, you could add a little red food coloring to make the cherries even more purple/pink and really make them look like they’ve been infused with cherries!
Adding vegetables to baked goods always makes them sound a little bit healthier. Zucchini bread and carrot cake, for instance, sound less indulgent than chocolate cake does, even though vegetables alone don’t make a recipe healthier. But even though they’re not turning your baked goods into health food, those veggies can put you on the right track to make a few other changes that actually do. My Whole Grain Carrot Muffins could easily have become carrot cake muffins, but I decided to make a few changes to my basic recipe that made them just a little bit healthier.
The muffins are made with white whole wheat flour and oatmeal, which both give the muffins a nice texture and a slightly nutty flavor. I also added ground flaxseed to the mix. They’re sweetened with brown sugar and flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, and while they have a good spice flavor to them, they’re not as sweet as a regular carrot cake would be. These muffins have a slightly hearty feel to them, so you will feel satisfied when you eat one for breakfast and not like you just ate a piece of cake. That said, they’re still soft and moist, and lack the heavy texture that some other whole grain muffins can have. I like to serve these with a little bit of butter or cream cheese, although they are also tasty just as they are.
I prefer using white whole wheat flour because it has a softer texture and a lighter flavor than regular whole wheat flour, although you can certainly experiment with regular whole wheat or a mixture of whole wheat and all purpose if those are the flours that you keep in your kitchen. You could also put a twist on these by adding some shredded coconut into the muffins in place of part of the shredded carrots, or by mixing up the spices with ginger and cardamom instead of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Nothing is more disappointing than biting into a beautiful blueberry muffin at a bakery or coffee shop and finding out that there aren’t very many blueberries inside. Unfortunately, this happens more often than it should (and it really should never happen) because some bakers will stud the outside of their muffins with berries and skimp on berries in the batter. When you bake your own blueberry muffins, you can have complete control of how many berries make it in to each bite – and these Bountiful Blueberry Muffins are just packed with them.
The muffins are simple, with a warm buttermilk flavor and a light sweetness that really allows the blueberries to “pop” in every bite. Blueberries are definitely the star here, and eating a muffin where the blueberries stand out so much also shows you how many other muffins mask the flavor of blueberries a bit – or simply don’t play it up enough. I used fresh berries in my muffins and always prefer to use fresh when I can get my hands on a fresh basket of them. If you are using fresh berries, be careful when you fold them in to your batter so that you don’t burst any of them. You can also use frozen berries. If you are using frozen, toss them in a teaspoon or two of all purpose flour before stirring them in, so that they don’t “bleed” any frozen berry juice into your batter and turn it pink.
This muffin batter is thick, which means that the berries will stay firmly in place during baking and won’t all sink to the bottom of the muffin. It also means that you can really heap the batter into your muffin cups, filling them up a lot more than you would with your average muffin recipe (usually you aim for 3/4ths full). A thick batter like this one will rise up a lot during baking, creating a muffin with a lovely, large top. Don’t be alarmed that the baking time is longer than it might be for some other muffin recipes, either, since bigger muffins with thicker batters often need a little extra time in the oven to cook all the way through. Just be patient, check your muffins for doneness with a toothpick and you’ll be enjoying a batch of these before you know it.
Coconut fans will want to bookmark these Vanilla Coconut Muffins because, although they look plain, they are delicious muffins that deliver a lot of flavor. I happen to be a big fan of coconut myself, and one of my pet peeves about some coconut recipes is that they don’t have very much coconut in them. These muffins don’t fit that mold at all. They are packed with lots of shredded coconut to give you a lot of coconut in every single bite.
Aside from coconut, vanilla is the other dominant flavor in these muffins. I was generous with it, to make sure that it stood out against the coconut and had a real presence in the finished muffin. The muffins are dense and tender, with a very tight crumb (thanks, in part, to all that coconut). The muffins are excellent plain, but are also very good when spread with a little bit of salted butter. These are big muffins with large, domed tops. As a result, they take a little longer to bake than some other muffin recipes might. Be sure to check them with a toothpick to make sure that it comes out clean and the muffins are fully cooked before taking them out of the oven to cool.
I like these muffins as-is, but if you want to put a little spin on them one easy way to do it is by adding some citrus zest into the muffin batter. Lemon, lime and orange all go very well with coconut and a tablespoon of zest will give these a whole new flavor.