Friday, August 24, 2012

Tri-Berry Muffins

The kids group in my neighborhood had a back-to-school pot luck this past weekend.  Though you might think of a pot-luck as a dinner-type event, this was held in the morning at the neighborhood park.  It is way too hot in the afternoons to spend much time outside, so mornings are always best!  Late the night before the event, I remembered that I needed to bring something (there's another shining example of my good planning!) so I scavenged my recipe files for a recipe to make.  I found several that sounded great but this one jumped out as the winner - Tri-Berry Muffins from the Barefoot Contessa.  It just so happened that I had purchased blueberries, raspberries and strawberries earlier that day, so obviously it was meant to be!  And I have to say, thank goodness I had a need to make this recipe!  It is delicious!  Why had I waited so long to pull this out of the files?  It will not stay hidden any longer!

This recipe comes together really fast, so I made them in the morning and brought freshly baked muffins to the pot luck!  Muffins are always the best the day they are made, in my opinion!

First sift together the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.   The recipe calls for 3 cups all-purpose flour and I replaced a cup of that with whole wheat flour.  I generally do half all-purpose, half whole wheat but I was lazy and didn't feel like getting out the half cup measure.  Pitiful, I know.  

Then mix melted butter, eggs, and milk together in another bowl.  Here is my epiphany for the day:  if you are going to mix melted butter with milk, the milk needs to be at room temperature even if the recipe doesn't say so.  Otherwise, when you pour the melted butter into the cold milk, the butter hardens up again!  Once the butter hardened up, I put the bowl in the microwave in 5 second intervals and whisked in between, until it was softened up again.  You can see in the picture that there were still hardened pieces in the bowl, but they were individually pretty small and I was scared of microwaving too much.  Lesson learned!  If mixing melted butter into a liquid, make sure that liquid is at room temperature!

Anyway, once the eggs, butter and milk are mixed, pour it into a well in the dry ingredients and stir until it is just combined.  

Add blueberries, raspberries, and chopped strawberries, and the sugar.  Here is what is interesting about this recipe.  Normally, sugar is added with the other dry ingredients.  In this recipe it is added later, and helps to create a nice crunch on the top of the muffin!  I added the amount of sugar called for in the recipe (1 1/2 cups) but next time I'll probably add less.  The berries add plenty of their own natural sweetness so I think I could easily cut down on the sugar.

The muffins bake for 20-25 minutes, and I allowed them to cool while I took a quick shower before heading to the park.  If you look closely, you might be able to tell that some of the muffins got a little browner than the others.  In fact, the browner ones are also less puffy.  I have two muffin pans:  a metal one and a silicone one.  The browner, flatter muffins were baked in the silicone pan.  That is definitely not my preferred pan.  I may have to dump it and just get another normal muffin pan!  

I loaded the muffins in my cupcake carrier (such a handy gadget) and brought them to the pot-luck.  I had hoped to get a picture of someone eating a muffin but alas, they were devoured too quickly!  I did get to have one, and I must admit they are really delicious.  The different types of berries give their different sweet/tart flavors and make nice juicy spots in the muffins.  Each muffin was bursting with berries.  

Tri-Berry Muffins
adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home
3 cups all-purpose flour (I substituted 1 cup whole-wheat, and will do 1 1/2 cups next time)
1 TB baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 TB ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup diced fresh strawberries
1 1/2 cups sugar (could use less)

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.

Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in a large bowl.  Stir with your hand to be sure the ingredients are combined.  In another smaller bowl, combine the milk, eggs and melted butter.  Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture, pour the butter/milk/egg mixture into the well, and stir just until combined.  It is okay if there are lumps!  Don't overmix the batter!  Add the fruit and sugar and stir gently to combine. 

Using a 2 1/4 inch ice-cream scoop, spoon the batter into the muffin cups to fill the liners.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean and the tops are nicely browned.  I used a 1 5/8 ounce disher and got 23 muffins, though the recipe says you should get 12-18.  Depends on the size of your scoop!  

A friend of mine who is about to have a baby any day now truly loved them - she said she had to refrain from eating the whole tray!  Yeah!  Anything I can do to bring bliss to a woman in that condition is worth it!  

This recipe is one I'll make again and again.  I think frozen berries would work fine as well, as long as you don't defrost them before putting them in the batter.  And you could use only 1 or 2 types of  berries and switch the types of berries up a bit too!  Versatile and delicious!  Give it a try!

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