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I found my thrill

July 23, 2012

The other day I was flipping through a cookbook that focuses on what to do with seasonal produce, probably trying to find something to do with an influx of summer squash.  Because I’m easily distracted (believe it!), I found myself instead staring at a recipe for blueberry sage muffins.  At first I was quizzical, head tilted to the side like that little RCA dog. But as I thought about it more, I realized that those flavors would actually go together beautifully.  Yay!  Off to the oven I went.

Well.  First batch, not so much.  The flavor had potential, but I didn’t care for the texture of the muffin itself at all.  It was a bit spongy and soft.  Also, there were way too many blueberries (which I hadn’t realized was possible), so the whole thing was a hot, sloppy mess.  Trashcan muffins, sigh.   I guess not every new recipe is a winner.

I couldn’t get the hint of sage combined with the blueberries out of my head, though.  I dug out my favorite basic muffin recipe (featured here with a cranberry walnut variation), and decided to give it a go.

First up was increasing the lemon.  The original recipe called for a tablespoon of zest, which didn’t give enough lemon flavor for my liking.  So I upped the zest quantity, and added lemon juice for good measure.  Next was reducing the blueberry volume a bit, to allow the muffins a chance to form some structure.  The last update was to take the sugar and toss it with the berries, sage, and lemon, letting it absorb some of their flavors before being mixed into the batter.

I brought the new, improved muffins to work the next day.  I didn’t want to scare anyone away by announcing the unusual ingredient, so my email simply said ‘muffins, help yourselves’.  They were a hit!  Even with half of my team out of the office that day, a full two dozen muffins still managed to disappear with ease.  As I was leaving that day I ended up in the elevator with the woman who normally runs away from anything even hinting at weird.  ‘Those muffins were good,” she said. “I really liked them.”  And THAT, my friends, is when you know you’ve come up with a winner.

Blueberry-Lemon-Sage Muffins

3 cups blueberries

3 tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves

½ cup sugar

zest of 2 lemons

3 cups flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 large eggs, beaten

1 ¾ cups milk

juice of 2 lemons

demerara or other coarse sugar

  • Preheat oven to 400F.  Line two muffin pans with paper muffin cups.
  • Combine berries, sage, sugar and lemon zest, stirring gently.  Let sit for 20 minutes.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, milk, melted butter, and lemon juice.  Add wet ingredients to dry, and mix until just blended.
  • Add the blueberry mixture, stirring just enough to combine evenly.
  • Divide batter evenly between muffin cups (if you have a #16 muffin scoop, a level scoop is perfect).  Sprinkle with demerara.  Bake for 22 minutes, rotating halfway through.  Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack.  Although tasty warm, it’s work the wait to let them cool completely – the texture is better, and the flavor really shines through.

Makes 24 muffins

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