By Rose McAvoy
We bought our home late in the fall and moved in early winter. Many months passed before we had our first glimpses of the plants hibernating in the yard. For the most part our house was flanked by low maintenance greenery interrupted by sparse hints of color. The simplicity of the yard came as a dull relief. On one hand I found the landscape lacking spunk, on the other, my weight and girth inhibited my ability to do much yard work so I left the garden to grow unaltered.
In the spring we noticed the tips of blackberry vines poking their leaves over our back fence. Each week they crept a little further toward the yard. In early summer the vines sprouted delicate white blossoms and a month or so later produced fruit. A perfectly ripe blackberry is soft and juicy with a sweetness so mellow it could lull an eater into a nectar induced trance. They are a bit seedy for some but the tender flesh can be easily worked through a sieve to leave just the syrupy sweet juice for jelly or sorbet.
Washington has native blackberries that send dainty trailing vines along the ground in the mountain forests. However, the variety in our yard and pretty much everywhere in the area is not the native berry but a persistent, invasive plant with choking vines and vicious thorns. I’m quite sure these plants rank along side cockroaches in their ability to survive the apocalypse. But in the mid to late summer the treacherous vines burst forth with berries and for about a month we can forgive them their aggressive behavior.
Every summer the berries grow over our fence surrounding the patio with cascading greenery and edible adornment. Now that he is coordinated enough, The Little Helping has discovered the joy of standing on a chair and stuffing himself silly with berries. The burgundy juice sticks to his fingers staining them and his smile a deep purple. Edible tie-dye.
I’m not much of a jam maker. We pick the berries once or twice a week and tuck them in the freezer to brighten the grey months of winter. We also enjoy them fresh and more than a few make their way into pancakes, pies, or muffins – like these.
Moist and satisfying these muffins make use of two succulent summer fruits. Use whole wheat flour in addition too (or in place of) all purpose for a heartier texture. Pretty up the tops by sprinkling a bit of granola on each muffin prior to baking.
Lightly modified from Simply Recipes Blackberry Muffins
Prep time: 20 – 25 minutes, Cook time 17 – 20 minutes; Yield 24 muffins
- 2 1/2 cups flour – suggested: 1 1/4 cups whole wheat &1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup raw sugar
- 8 Tbsp warm melted unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt – suggested Chobani brand
- 1/4 cup low fat milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups (about 5-6 oz) of fresh blackberries, cut in half – if using frozen, defrost and drain berries before beginning
- 1 1/2 cups diced fresh peaches (or nectarines) – blanche and remove peach skin before dicing.
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour – to coat the berries before incorporating into batter
1. Place your oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare two 12 cup muffin pans (or equivalent) with paper liners or by spritzing each cup with non-stick spray or wiping with a thin coating of neutral flavored oil.
2. In a medium mixing bowl: use a fork to combine dry ingredients – flour (excluding the final tablespoon of all purpose flour), baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom.
3. In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer): beat eggs and sugar on low/medium speed until they become fluffy and double in volume. Continue mixing on low speed while adding the sugar, yogurt, milk and vanilla.
4. Gently mix in the dry ingredients adding 1/3 of mixture at a time. Mix just enough for incorporate the dry into the liquid.
5. Place the prepared fruit in a bowl (use the one for the dry ingredients) and gently toss them with the final tablespoon of all purpose flour. Use a wooden spoon or silicon spatula, and light hand, to fold the coated fruit into the muffin batter. Fold the batter over 3 -5 times just enough to distribute the fruit throughout the batter being careful not to crush the fruit.
6. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups so they are just over 3/4 of the way full – a generous 1/4 cup of batter. You may choose to sprinkle a little granola over each muffin at this point.
7. Place the pans into the preheated oven to bake 17-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
8. Let the baked muffins sit a few minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool. Remove the muffins carefully as some of the fruit pieces may try to fall away from the muffin.
Approximate nutrition per muffin: 124 calories, 4.5 g fat, 19 g carbohydrates, 1.6 g fiber, 3.3 g protein, PP = 3