There are Saskatoons at the dog park. (Sandy Beach, and the hill up to and down from Brittania.)
I noticed this when I was about two-thirds of the way through my latte. Stopping by a particularly fruitful bush, I chugged it so that I could fill my cup with Alberta’s Own blueberries. As in Blueberries for Sal, I walked along the path, dropping berries into my little bucket: kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk. (Only it was more like tut, tut, tut – far more unceremonious in my Starbucks cup.) I went home with the better part of a grande – enough to make muffins. Sundays, after all, are meant for making muffins.
(But then W ate most of them – just like in Blueberries for Sal – and I had to pad the muffins a bit with some Saskatoons my neighbour brought over.)
I recalled a recipe for Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins from Joy the Baker (and wow, have you checked out her newly-made-over website?) – I am enamoured of browned butter anything – it’s even fantastic over popcorn – and this was no exception. I knocked the butter down to 1/3 cup (from 7 tablespoons, just shy of half a cup) – but if you’re trying to better your fat intake, these work smashingly with canola oil instead. The batter is thick; just enough to hold 2 cups of berries together. A few months ago I made a similar crumble for the tops of other muffins, and because I for some reason always view this as a bit of a (albeit delicious) hassle, I made a big batch (while I was at it) and froze it. Now I have a baggie of brown sugar rubble to toss over fruit, or muffins, or whatever needs to be made a little homier/fancier by a little smattering of something. Simple.
A dozen (less a few) homemade muffins tucked in the freezer will help alleviate some of my guilt over sneaking out of the house at 5 am for the next two weeks in order to take over traffic duties on the Eyeopener. (Listen if you’re up – CBC Radio One – 1010 AM, 99.1 FM – and please do call if you see a traffic snarl.)
Or hey, I could bring them in for the crew and score a few extra brownie points.. muffin points?
Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins
These truly are spectacular muffins – a lovely, moist, dense-yet-light crumb, and somehow buttery even if you make them with canola oil – I promise. Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook, by way of Joy the Baker, then tweaked a bit by me. Really, they would take on any kind of berry well – try fresh cranberries, and spike the batter with grated orange zest.
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk (you could just use another whole egg, but I didn’t want to take too many liberties – Joy is the Baker, after all)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups fresh or frozen (don’t thaw them) blueberries or Saskatoon berries
3 Tbsp. butter, cut into bits
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar (I like to use brown)
Preheat the oven to 375F, and line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, keep it over the heat until it starts to turn brown and smell nutty – keep an eye on it – little browned bits will appear in the bottom like a scrumptious sludge. Take it off the heat and set aside.
Whisk together the milk, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. In a larger bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter mixture and stir until almost combined; add the berries and gently stir just until blended.
Mix the topping ingredients in a small bowl, using a fork or your fingers to blend until crumbly.
Divide the batter among the muffin cups. (Mine was thick enough to pick up wads with my fingers and press in, filling them pretty much up.) Sprinkle with the crumble and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch.
Makes 1 dozen.
Dinner was leftovers – lemony parsley potato salad with peas, marinated tomatoes and burgers from last night, eaten naked with our fingers, dipped in ketchup. I think they were better today. It would never occur to me to add sesame oil and nutmeg to a burger – let alone together – but it totally worked. And it was such a big batch that I now have a stash in the freezer for inevitable dinner emergencies.