Friday, August 17, 2007

One more muffin before I go...

Well, I’ve done it! I’ve thrown caution to the wind, packed my bags, and we are heading out of town for a few days of proper vacationing. I’ve worked very hard this summer, and I think I deserve at least one long weekend of respite! Actually, it was supposed to be a big dog show weekend, but then not one other dog of my breed in my region decided to show up (boo hiss….that’s 86 bucks down the proverbial crapper). So I will leave the critters with a sitter and head to Massachusetts purely for recreational purposes, just wait and see if I don’t! I’m not exactly sure what kind of trouble Cyd and I will get ourselves into, but I’m definitely feeling some beach time coming on—perhaps on our favorite Martha’s Vineyard? Someone at the farmers’ market told me about one of the oldest and most wonderful agricultural fairs in the country in West Tisbury on the Vineyard, and that’s happening there this weekend as well. Whatever we do, it’ll be nice just to get away from chores and responsibilities for a few days. That and getting to go to Trader Joe’s, of course! ;-)

But I couldn’t leave town without one last baking project. A nice woman at Cyd’s work gave us a quart of wild blueberries about a month ago from her own backyard, and all she asked in return was a homemade blueberry muffin. I have several good recipes, but there was one recently posted on one of my favorite blogs, Culinary in the Country, for a blueberry crumb coffee cake from Dorie Greenspan’s baking book that I thought I might adapt into muffins. Well, the muffins turned out delicious, very lemony with lots of zest massaged into the sugar to release all of the essential oils, and both tangy and tender from the addition of buttermilk. But the streusel didn’t stay lumped up on top of the muffins as I expected it to. It kind of melted on top of each one, and came out more chewy/crispy than soft and crumbly. And yet, that was what everyone at Cyd’s work commented on and loved about them! See? There are no mistakes in the kitchen, only new recipes. Tee hee. But if you want the streusel to remain unadulterated in its traditional form, just bake it in an eight-inch square pan as the recipe originally dictates.

Blueberry Crumb Cake (Muffins)
(Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours, Dorie Greenspan)

For the topping:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the cake:
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (instead of AP and WW flour, I used all white whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
2/3 cup granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries - fresh or frozen (if frozen,do not thaw)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, add butter, sugars, flour and salt. Pulse the ingredients together just until the mixture forms moist clumps. Scoop the mixture into a small bowl and stir in walnuts. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until needed.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a large mixing bowl (I did this in my stand mixer), add granulated sugar and zest - rub the two together with your fingers until the lemon zest is evenly distributed and the sugar takes on a light yellow hue. Add butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined. Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

In a small bowl, toss together the blueberries and 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour. Add the blueberries into the batter and fold just until combined. Scoop the mixture into an 8" baking dish* coated with nonstick spray. Remove the crumb mixture from the refrigerator and break it into irregular pieces all over the top of the batter - lightly press them down to adhere.

Bake until the crumbs on top are golden and a toothpick placed in the center comes out mostly clean - about 55 to 65 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

*This recipe makes 24 regular-sized muffins if you prefer. Bake them for 25-30 minutes.

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