Blueberry Muffins Two Ways

 

On our trip to Alaska earlier this summer, we made some wonderful new friends and were lucky enough to enjoy a few meals with them.  These friends are vegan and it was inspiring to see the amazing and delicious meals they have without including any animal products.  I've been trying to work in more vegetarian meals into our week and when I was perusing Gwenyth Paltrow's cookbook the other night I came across her two recipes for blueberry muffins.  She calls one "blythe's blueberry muffins" and the other "healthier version of the blueberry muffins".  Blythe's version contains the usual butter, eggs, sugar, milk and all-purpose flour whereas the healthier version includes spelt flour, soy milk, maple syrup and agave nectar.  I was intrigued... and I happened to have enough blueberries on hand to try both.  Taste test time!

Rob is my opinionated taster who lacks a filter, which I appreciate in the kitchen.  He sampled both of the batters for the muffins, as well as doing a taste test this morning.  I wish I could say that the healthier muffins won, but they didn't... that said, they were quite tasty and had they not been sampled before or after the full-fat version, I don't know that you would think they were anything but delicious!

I've made minor adjustments to both recipes.  For blythe's muffins, I used low fat buttermilk in lieu of 2% or whole milk.  In the healthier version, GP called for 1 cup whole spelt flour and 1 cup white spelt flour - I only had white so I used 2 cups of white.  Aside from a difference in taste, the major difference I noticed between the muffins was that the blythe muffins rose considerably more (and therefore were larger) than the healthier muffins... that is about it!  The Blythe muffins are pictured on the left above and the healthier version is on the right.

Blythe's Blueberry Muffins
Yield = 1 dozen muffins
Active time = 15 minutes; Total time = 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 eggs (preferably organic)
  • 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Preparation

 Heat your oven to 375°.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.  Whisk butter, eggs and buttermilk in a bowl.  Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in another bowl.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients; fold in blueberries.  Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.  Bake until muffins are golden brown and a knife comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.  Serve warm.

Healthier Version of the Blueberry Muffins

Yield = 1 dozen muffins
Active time = 15 minutes; Total time = 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup light agave nectar
  • cups white spelt flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375°.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.  Whisk oil, soymilk, maple syrup and agave nectar in a bowl.  Combine spelt flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients; fold in blueberries.  Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.  Bake until muffins are golden brown and a knife comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.  Serve warm.

Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

 

We have had some truly awesome blackberries so far this summer - plump and full of flavor and perfectly ripe. When I saw the Blackberry Buttermilk Cake in Bon Appétit, I thought it would be the perfect way to incorporate the delicious berries into our 4th of July party, as well as serve alongside the Cherry Hand Pies.



I am typically not a cake person - I'll take a scoop of ice cream, a slice of pie or a brownie any day over a piece of cake. I find most cakes to be too dry -- this one, however, is incredibly moist thanks to the buttermilk and the layer of blackberries. You could almost eat it for breakfast like this breakfast cake, but I have resisted doing that... so far!

If I served this again, I'd add a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top of each slice. That wasn't practical given that we were outside, but it would be a nice touch.  I made this cake one day ahead of time. If you prepare it in advance, be sure to dust it with powdered sugar just prior to serving as the powdered sugar will have soaked into the cake. I do think it is best served shortly after baking.

Blackberry Buttermilk Cake
Bon Appétit, July 2011
Special Equipment - Use a 9"-10"-diameter springform pan 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan and parchment
  • 2 1/3 cups cake flour (sifted, then measured) plus more for pan
  • 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Preparation

  • Position a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°. Butter pan; line bottom with a round of parchment paper. Butter parchment. Dust with flour; tap out excess. Arrange berries in a single layer in bottom of pan; sprinkle evenly with 1/4 cup sugar.
  • Sift 2 1/3 cups flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat 3/4 cup butter and remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar in a large bowl at medium-high speed, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and zest. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until incorporated. Pour batter over berries in pan; smooth top.
  • Bake until cake is golden brown and cake bounces back when pressed gently with fingertip, about 1 hour 25 minutes for a 9" pan and about 1 hour for a 10" pan. Start checking the cake at 45 minutes - reviewers stated that their cakes baked quickly. Minute took 1 hour 10 minutes but I covered the top loosely with tinfoil at 45 minutes to prevent over-browning. 
  • Garnish cake with fresh blackberries or whipped cream.