I always want to make muffins. The boys don’t really care for them unless they are dotted with chocolate chips. John’ll eat a muffin if he’s prowling for a snack in the kitchen, but he never requests them. Truth be told, I don’t really care much for muffins once they’re baked, either. I think it’s a late-’90s memory of oversized bakery puffballs that tasted like nothing and made everyone fat. Still, I crave the mixing bowl. The cinnamon-buttery smell of muffins baking reminds me of my mom’s baking when I was a kid, and I get all nostalgic. It was her way to show warmth, and I suppose I do the same, cooking for my family.
There is something about a pint of blueberries and a summer morning with no big plans that prompt me to grab the beaters, as Mom called them, and a few pantry basics. Sometimes I cease and desist though, since there’s a trick to good muffins: Finding the right recipe. Years ago when I worked for Martha Stewart we ran a Muffins basics story and it was genius–one formula for the batter and then a bunch of mix-and-match add-ins. I’d link to it but can’t find the story or the recipe on her website; plus there was probably a fuss factor that wouldn’t line up with a lazy Sunday. Insert Interwebz inspiration here. Unfortunately too many muffin recipes seem to call for buttermilk and I never have any buttermilk and though I know how to hack buttermilk (a cup of milk plus a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar plus ten minutes), I don’t want to. Noncompliance is my specialty. See above regarding kids wanting chocolate chips and my using blueberries.
Back to recipe seeking. Anyway, this morning there was a subpar peach in the fruit bowl and blueberries beckoning after I had a smoothie; up top on Google was a Food.com recipe for (sans buttermilk!) with many good reviews. Disclaimer: I work on the site for Scripps so I am an outsized fan. Pros of the recipe: Easy and fast. Cons: It had no use for my peach, and you need a second bowl for mixing the topping. So I riffed.Peachy Blueberry Muffins
This often goes wrong with baking. But I’ve become brave in the kitchen, ditching the topping and mixing cinnamon and nutmeg into the batter instead, and adding a cup of diced peach to go along with the blueberries. One pro tip that Martha and the home cooks at Food.com agree on: the key to muffins that don’t feel like a softball is to avoid overmixing the batter. This just means that after mixing the wet ingredients with a hand mixer, you instead use a spatula to fold in the dry and stop before you think you ought to–it all should just be blended together with little lumps and bumps and bits of floury mix remaining.
Fast-forward: When the muffins came out of the oven, none of my kids were takers. I split one to see how the peaches combined with the berries (just fine) and couldn’t resist adding a pat of butter and sitting down to a cup of coffee. Later, the boys’ snack time sneaking up, my oldest snuck a muffin, and I smiled, savoring a tiny delicious memory of my mom and another tasty bit of summer with my men.
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