|(Interview) Jane Hornby's perfect Mother's Day muffins|
From Fresh &Easy: What to Cook & How to Cook It: (Phaidon Press, May 2012, $45.00)
Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus cooling
Cooking time: 18-20 minutes
Note: A tray of muffins is always a welcome sight. The cream cheese is a tasty optional extra and contrasts well with the sweetness of the blueberries. Try using the basic recipe with other fruit: chopped fresh peach or plum would work just as nicely.
7 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt (or you can use buttermilk)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp fine salt
1 scant cup superfine sugar
6 oz blueberries
4 oz cream cheese
- Melt the butter in a medium pan. While you wait, line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin wrappers and preheat the oven to 400ºF, setting a rack in the middle of the oven.
- Whisk the oil, yogurt, vanilla, and eggs into the butter, in that order.
- Sift the flour and baking power into a large mixing bowl, stir in the salt and sugar, then make a well in the middle.
- Pour the yogurt mixture into the mixing bowl. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet using a rubber spatula, but take great care not to over stir as this can make the muffins tough. When most of the mixture has come together, but you can still see large ribbons of flour, stop. Pour in the blueberries, then fold them into the batter with the bare minimum of stirring. The mixture will still look lumpy and uneven.
- Using 2 dessert spoons, spoon about half of the batter into the prepared pan. Now dot about ½ teaspoon of the cheese on top of each half-filled muffin. Top with the rest of the batter (the wrappers will be quite full), then top each one with another ½ teaspoon of cheese. I always try and engineer it so that there are a few berries on the top of the muffin batter so they look really blueberry-ish when they come out of the oven.
- Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until well risen and golden and the blueberries are starting to ooze their purple juices. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Muffins are always best enjoyed on the day they’re made – or kept in an airtight container overnight.