The first day of spring is in two days. I know everyone is sick of winter and it’s nothing new or revolutionary to complain about it lasting forever blah, blah, blah but cripes, I need it to be over. I woke up this morning to a dull, gray, foggy, sleety darkness that didn’t relent all day and it’s just so gross. I bought cute new flats that I’d like to wear. My whole tan that I worked really hard to achieve last summer is gone. Pure, warm sunlight is a distant memory. I want an iced beverage to be appealing, not chill-inducing. Honestly, I want to sweat again. That’s weird, I know. If you’re thinking “Well why don’t you just work out or something?” you should leave now. Just go. That’s not at all what I meant.
Everyone who didn’t click away after that knows what I mean. You guys feel me. You understand.
I’ve been listening to a lot of this instrumental cover of “Hurt” by 2Cellos and maybe that’s also affecting my mood. Who knows? So in an effort to bring some cheer to this cheerless day, I made these muffins this morning. And they did help a little. The rest of the group did this recipe way back in September when I was on hiatus so it’s kind of a catch-up for me. Fresh berries seem to be on sale in all the grocery stores right now but frozen would probably work just as well.
Vanilla-Sugar Dusted Mixed Berry Muffins
1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 t baking soda
1 t cream of tartar
1 t salt
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 pint fresh raspberries
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
2 T vanilla sugar
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees. Butter or spray a 12 cup muffin pan, or line the cups with paper liners.
Sift or whisk the cake flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together. Remove about a tablespoon of the sifted dry ingredients and toss with the berries in a small bowl. In another small bowl, stir together the milk and sour cream and set aside until needed.
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the softened butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until it’s very white and pale. Add in the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add in the egg and yolk and beat for another 2 or 3 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and pour in about half of the dry ingredients, along with half the milk/sour cream mixture. Using a large spoon or spatula, fold in these additions carefully. When everything has just come together, add in the rest of the dry and wet ingredients and continue to lightly fold everything together. Now add the berries, being careful not to crush them while folding. I really hate folding. I’ve mentioned it before. But unfortunately it’s a really necessary technique in baking. You definitely don’t want to overmix these babies. Use a triggered scoop to evenly divide the batter into the 12 muffin cups. You could spoon it too but scoops are where it’s at. Get one if you don’t have one, it’ll change your baking life.
Sprinkle the vanilla sugar over the muffin tops and bake them for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are just starting to get golden. Let them cool in the pan on a rack for about 15-20 minutes before removing.
Eat a muffin, it helps with the winter doldrums. Maybe have a few while you fantasize about sandals and wearing only one layer of clothing…or gasp! a bathing suit. And don’t listen to “Hurt” anymore. Wait, who am I kidding? It’s an incredible and evocative song. Listen to it all you want. Just do it in a patch of weak sunlight with a muffin in each hand and you’ll probably be okay. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…..