Friday, May 13, 2011

Blueberry Muffins!

One thing that I remember very well from childhood is the blueberry muffins that Mum used to bake. While here it is difficult to find chocolate chips, at home in NZ there is in the baking aisle a huge variety of chocolate to bake with: various brands of chocolate chips, drops, bits, buttons and something produced by Cadbury alone - chocolate balls. These little balls of dark chocolate are so good I used to sneak into the pantry to steal them and blame it on my brother. So Mum's blueberry muffins were actually blueberry and chocolate ball muffins and if you ate them hot the chocolate would hold it's spherical shape somehow but as soon as you bit into it, or even just touched it slightly, the surface tension would break and if you weren't careful you would have molten chocolate dripping onto you or burning your mouth. Yet they were the best muffins so when I had leftover buttermilk in the fridge I decided I would make muffins, and buttermilk makes for good berry muffins so I decided that they would just have to be blueberry with chocolate drops, the closest equivalent I can find to chocolate balls. They don't compare but I did manage to get really good huge blueberries so that made up for it a little. I doubt Mum's muffins used buttermilk and no I do not have her recipe but a berry muffin is a berry muffin, so I actually stole my basic berry muffin recipe from Alison Holst. So NZers may be familiar with this! Still, here is today's interpretation of the recipe:

Blueberry and chocolate buttermilk muffins

3 cups plain flour
6 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups of white caster sugar
100 grams dark chocolate (chips, drops, balls, pieces, etc).
1 egg
1/4 cup cooking oil (or melted butter)
1 3/4 cups buttermilk (if you use normal milk you may not need so much as buttermilk is somewhat thick)
300 grams blueberries

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease or line 18 muffin holes (I had to make the recipe bigger because a dozen muffins is just not enough yet two dozen a bit much).

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl (sifting the flour and baking powder of course). Stir in the chocolate.

In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients together well.

Now stir the blueberries into the flour - mixing them into the flour helps to prevent somewhat the colour leaching into the whole mixture. Add the wet ingredients and fold into the dry, being careful not to overmix (not that I can criticise here as muffins really aren't my strong point).

Now carefully spoon the mixture into the muffin pans and bake for about 25 minutes or so, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Also, a muffin is done when you press the top lightly and it bounces right back. So when the are done take them out, let them rest a few minutes and then turn them out of the pan.

Of course you can eat them immediately! But they are actually better if you let them cool, they are sort of spongy and crumbly when wet but much more solid when cool. You can taste more too if you let them cool.

Now even though I didn't overmix them my muffins did turn out a little odd, I didn't take a photo sadly but I think my oven is rather uneven because they rose more on one side than the other. It's all good though they tasted great!

There is one matter to clear up though. I find myself having this argument often. Is a muffin not the same thing as a cupcake? And the answer is no! It is not! Cupcakes are cakes, baked in a cup or alternatively small pans like bun or muffin pans. The difference is all in the mixture and texture. Cakes are sort of solid yet fluffy, with a soft fine texture. Muffins on the other hand are more spongy, with large air-pockets. While you beat a cake really well you make two separate mixtures for muffins and then mix them only briefly. Of course there are some variants, exceptions we might say, but that only proves the rule! Muffins are definately not cupcakes.

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