Yesterday was the first Sunday in ages that we’ve had absolutely nothing on the books. Complete peace and quiet all day long! It capped off a busy week of work, a child home sick for three days and celebrating my birthday. And since it’s a significant one (Fifty! The big 5-0, baby. And no, it doesn’t feel a bit different then 49, or even 40 for that matter) the celebration will continue, therefore making me even more grateful for this quiet respite.
I got out of bed earlier than usual, just to enjoy as much of the day as possible. Plus it was grey and cold outside which meant I got to wrap up in a blanket and hang out on the couch with my coffee for a while. After I scrolled through Facebook and Instagram to see what was new in the world, I finally got to peruse a couple of the books I’d been given as gifts by dear friends who know me well. The first is a beautiful tome The Kinfolk Table which has some gorgeous photography, though I do think those hipsters should smile a little more. The second is the latest Ina Garten book, Make It Ahead. (Yes it’s true I have every one of her books, but that’s mostly attributable to the fact that whenever she releases a new book it’s in November and a certain friend always gives it to me for my birthday). I am a fan. I turn to Ina’s recipes again and again. They’re good and they work and lots of them are my go-to for classic dishes like Spaghetti and Meatballs or Seafood Stew.
Now inspired, an hour or so later I was on Pinterest planning our Thanksgiving feast (even made a new board for ideas). I have a few steadfast dishes I am loyal to and make every year (this Apple Pear Compote for instance), but I am fickle and play around with others. Since I have lots of family coming this year and my parents will be here for several days before, I want to get a jump on the planning, and when possible, the cooking.
But by now I was getting hungry and knew my kids would soon be rising, so I circled back to the Blueberry Bran muffins in Ina’s new book. Blueberries picked last summer in the freezer, check. But oops, I went to investigate and no wheat bran in the house. Oh, but what about those pears sitting on the counter getting too ripe? Change in plans, the blueberries will keep. I recalled one of my favorite muffin recipes and started to make Pear Muffins. I’ve adapted this recipe a bit from Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook. Macrina is a bakery on Seattle where I’ve enjoyed many espresso and pastry mornings. This recipe for Fresh Fruit Muffins is adaptable to any fruit – summer or winter. You can leave it alone, but I tend to use part whole wheat flour and I also add seasonings according to the fruit. For instance if you’re using peaches try adding a teaspoon of fresh thyme. Or in this case I added a teaspoon of cinnamon to the pear batter. I would have added a bit of ginger as well, but I know my daughter doesn’t like it. Another option would have been to leave out the cinnamon and use minced rosemary, but I was looking for something something very cozy.
This recipe makes the most delicious muffins. They are the perfect balance of crunch on the outside (thanks in part to that last sprinkle of raw sugar), giving way to subtly sweet and spicy moistness on the inside. I don’t know if moistness is really a word, but I’m using it anyway. Did I say they’re perfect? You know how some people say “wine is a hug in a glass”? Well that’s cute and all, and as much as I love wine, I’ve never really felt that way myself, however on my second bite of these muffins I said “This is so perfect, it’s like a hug in a muffin!”
Fresh Fruit Muffins
- 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar packed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 8 tablespoons 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 2 cups ripe fruit whole berries or fruit cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup coarse raw sugar
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush the inside of muffin tins with oil.
- Gently whisk together flours, sugars, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a separate medium bowl . combine eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and milk. Mix with a whisk until combined. Add to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon just until all the dry ingredients are moistened. (It's important not to over mix.) Slowly add the melted butter and continue mixing until batter is smooth and there are no visible streaks of butter. Gently fold into the batter, taking care to avoid crushing the fruit.
- Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling the cups to the top. Sprinkle coarse raw sugar on tops of muffins and bake on center rack of oven for 25 to 30 minutes. The muffins will be golden brown when they're finished. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then slide a fork down the side of each muffin and gently lift from the pan.