We — meaning, my kids and I — used to bake muffins using prepared mixes. In fact, their absolute favorite is Betty Crocker’s blueberry muffin mix. But it’s darn expensive. A pouch that costs almost a hundred pesos only yields six muffins and it just isn’t fair.
We tried baking blueberry muffins from scratch using canned blueberries but canned blueberries are really meant as a topping for cheescakes. The result tasted great but eating the muffins was too messy because the blueberries were wet.
I figured that if we could get decent fresh, dried or frozen berries, we could try again. Well, I was able to buy pouches of dried mixed berries, blueberries, figs… We used the dried mixed berries to bake a dozen muffins today. It didn’t turn out to be less expensive compared with using the Betty Crocker muffin mix but it was definitely more fun. And the feeling of satisfaction, you know…???
And now I know what the big deal is about baking muffins for breakfast or for an afternoon snack. There’s nothing like eating muffins fresh out of the oven. The outside of a newly-baked muffin is crusty and crisp while the inside is soft and moist. And with every bite, those wonderful berries…
I bought the mixed dried berries in the supermarket. PhP 169.00 for a 6-oz. pouch (above, left) is rather expensive but, like I said, I really want to learn how to bake properly — no ready mixes. And baking is really such a wonderful activity to do with my daughters. Alex (above, right) and I made the muffins together this afternoon. So, the expense was really secondary. Or, perhaps, I intentionally decided to overlook the price so we could enjoy the baking better.
I used a recipe I found on the web but I made some substitutions because, as with so many foreign recipes, some of the ingredients are not staples in a Filipino household’s pantry. So, dried berries in lieu of fresh or frozen, canned evaporated milk instead of buttermilk and, because I ran of out fresh lemons, lemon extract in place of fresh lemon rind.
The following recipe yields a dozen regular-sized muffins.
2-1/2 c. of all-purpose flour (we sifted it once)
2/3 c. of white sugar
3 tsps. of baking powder
1/4 tsp. of salt
3/4 c. of evaporated milk
2/3 c. of vegetable oil (I used ordinary vegetable cooking oil)
1 6-oz. pouch of mixed dried berries (below, left)
In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
In another bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, vegetable oil and lemon extract.
Fold the wet and dry ingredients together, including the dried berries, just until moistened. The batter will be lumpy (above, right). From what I’ve read and seen in TV cooking shows, muffin batter should never be overmixed. It is supposed to be lumpy and the tops of the baked muffins are not supposed to be smooth because they are not cupcakes. Or something like that.
Use two spoons to fill the muffin pans. One spoon to scoop the batter and the other to push it down the muffin pan. Bake the muffins in a preheated 180oC oven for 20 minutes.
So, in the photo above, that’s how the muffins looked after I turned off the oven. Below, a more detailed shot of the baked mixed berries muffin.