Here in Seattle, the blackberry bushes are bursting with berries. So much so in fact that my coworkers spent a good portion of their afternoon walk picking about four pints worth just for little ole me. They proudly delivered a soggy bottomed brown paper bag, heavy with freshly picked berry goodness. "We thought you could make something with them!" they said proudly, grinning ear to ear. Pretty cute, huh? I've spoiled them a bit, me thinks. :-)
The first thing that came to mind was a blackberry cobbler but that seemed a bit trite. When I got home, I flipped to the index of several of my cookbooks and was shocked that I didn't have one blackberry specific recipe. That was when I opened "Baking with Julia" and stopped when I saw the full color photo of a blueberry muffin. I could make that and just swap the blueberries for the blackberries, right? Could I just swap 'em? Why the heck not?
First I have to say that I loved this recipe. You know it will be good when the batter tastes like frosting. The recipe includes the fixins for homemade baking powder that guarantees you'll creates the most light and airy muffins for miles and miles around. The one pause I had when preparing this recipe was at the end when it called for 2 cups of blueberries to be added to the batter. I'm no scientist but I just didn't feel right about adding 2 cups of super juicy (er, watery) blackberry goo to my beautiful, frosting like batter. So I decided to employ a layering technique to keep the juicy blackberries from ruining the batter. To do this I scooped plain batter into lined muffin cups, put a fair amount of black berries on top, put another layer of batter on top and lately dotted the surface of the muffins with the blackberries just for color and interest. This worked out great! Next time I'll do more another layer, closer to the bottle of the cup.
Not bad for my first made from scratch muffins (seriously!)!
Melt-in-your-mouth Blackberry Muffins
Yield: 36 muffins
Adapted from "Baking with Julia" by Dorie Greenspan
1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups blackberries, rinsed and gently placed on a cookie sheet or platter lined with paper towels
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (fat-free works fine)
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 400F. Butter, spray, or line 15-18 muffin cups with paper cupcake cups. According to the recipe, the muffins are best made in a standard sized cupcake/muffin tin, so you'll want to avoid using this recipe with really small or large pans. If you have 2 muffin pans with 12 cups, fill the cups that will be empty with water. This will help the muffins bake evenly.
Sift the cake flour, baking soda, cream of tarter, and salt together twice into a bowl and set aside. Keep the sifter handy as you'll be using it again in a moment.
Remove a teaspoon or two of the flour and very carefully sprinkle it over the berries. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix the milk and sour cream together.
In a mixture with a paddle attachment, beat butter for 3 minutes on medium speed until it is white and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat another 3 minutes on medium speed, stopping to scrape the bowl after a minute and a half. Add the egg and egg yolk and beat for another 2 minutes until the mixture is airy and light.
Remove the bowl from the mixture and sift (yes, for third time) half the flour mixture into the wet, mix a little, add half the milk mixture, fold a bit, careful not to over mix and repeat with the rest of the flour and milk mixture. It is okay if there are dry pockets here. Just use your hand and fold the batter carefully and as little as possible until it's fairly well mixed together.
Spoon or scoop the batter into a cupcake/muffin pan lined with paper cups a little less than half way up. Gently place several blackberries on top of the batter and cover with a bit more batter. Top each muffin with a few more blackberries.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Don't forget, if you have any empty cups when you're baking, fill them up with water for even baking. The moisture actually helps to poof them up a bit!