My sundays six weeks ago are drastically different compared to my sundays these days. Six weeks ago, I’d be sitting in PJ’s way past noon and complain about how dull sundays are. In spirit of full disclosure, I still continue the tradition of sitting in my PJ’s way past noon but I welcome the dullness. In fact, I feel that it is so much more well deserved. Two weeks in pastry school will do that to you. Two weeks of making fancy pants dessert in a high pressure kitchen wearing chef whites (I love saying that) will make you yearn for sitting on your couch watching Gilmore Girls reruns while soaking your kitchen salvaged hands in something that smells incredible (Burt’s Bees anyone?). I spent about twenty minutes today making these muffins and spent the remaining soaking in the dullness. After two weeks of pate brisee and creme pattissiere, I was secretly relieved to make something that involved one bowl and one sturdy wooden spoon. They use whole-wheat flour and contain little sugar so you can eat them guilt free. My favorite part of the recipe though has to be that it made exactly 6 muffins. Living without a large family to feed has made me more conscientious of the portions I cook and these muffins are perfectly portioned to get my bestie and I through the week.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore school. It’s baker bootcamp all the way. My inner geek resurfaces everytime there is a technical lecture taking place and I fill my new notebook with notes about egg protein structures and critical differences between pate brisee and pate sucre. I feel incredibly grateful to call this work. Last week, we had a lecture on cheese. CHEESE. We sat around for three hours and tasted cheese from all over the world and learned so much from an extraordinarily passionate cheesemonger. My new Mondays, Wednesdays and whathaveyou days of the week are filled with doing non-touristy stuff in my adopted city, using really good butter and learning from the sweetest, most encouraging set of chefs I’ve met.
So you can see why Sundays call for homecooked meals (oh, the craving for Indian food!) and super simple muffins. I’ve added the zest of a whole lemon to counter the sweetness of the berries and used skimmed milk instead of almond in the original recipe. I also coated the berries in some flour to reduce the moisture later. The batter is pretty thick so you don’t need to worry about them sinking to the bottom. My favorite nugget of wisdom though is from Greenspan – rub the zest in with the sugar till its fragrant and you will wonder why no one has bottled this scent yet.
Sunday Berry Muffins
Adapted from: Apron Anxiety by Alyssa Shelasky
For the muffins:
1 cup (120g) whole-wheat flour
1/6 cup (33g) caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup (56g) butter, melted
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup (120ml) milk (I used skimmed)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup berries of your choice (fresh or frozen)*
1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 deg C. Line a muffin tray with paper liners and set aside.
2. In a bowl, add sugar and lemon zest and rub together with your fingers till fragrant. Add melted butter, yolk, milk and extract. Mix well with a sturdy wooden spoon. Sift dry ingredients over the mixture and mix again.
3. Pour into muffin mould and add berries on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cake tests done.
* – If you are using frozen berries, you can add them directly but for fresh berries, I always prefer coating them in a little bit of flour first so they do not release excess moisture making the muffins appear uncooked. I also lay them on a kitchen towel first to dry them slightly.