Sunday, May 15, 2011

Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins

I found this muffin recipe on my friend Ann's blog Thibeault's Table.  The idea and description were so appealing I set out to try them right away.  Conveniently forgetting my sinuses were blocked plaguing  me with an inability to taste my food.  Besides from the obvious frustration caused by not tasting my food for over a week, I was also unhappy to discover I still eat more than I should when food has only texture, sweet and salt.  So as the rest of my family exclaimed over their goodness I was able to detect the correct level of sweetness, enough salt and a perfect texture.  The scent of blueberries, the flavor from the 3 types of flours and the browned butter were all lost on me.  However I still knew I had finally found my blueberry muffin recipe and I would share it here later (once I had tasted them).  The rest of my family could taste them and both boys happily ate them for breakfast 3 mornings in a row, something that never happens.

By the end of last weekend I could smell and taste again and so on Mother's Day I made a batch of these muffins.  Lewis was going out of town, yes on Mother's Day, and I wanted an easy no argue breakfast the next day.  I reduced the sugar because I knew we would prefer it and to test if I could make them for the preschool.  Federal reimbursement guidelines require that in baked goods, sugar be no more than half the volume of flour.  (Although you can serve all the trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, fried food and flavored milk you want!)

When I browned the butter and poured it into the batter the aroma of caramel drifted up.  The finished muffins do not taste of caramel, instead the browned butter adds intensity and a nuttiness that tempers the sweetness.  The 3 flours add their own flavor plus keep you from being hungry 20 minutes later.  The more I play with whole grains in my baking, the more I love the dimension they add.  Not the heavy wheat flavor we all remember but rather an actual flavor where white flour is just blank.  Of course this assumes you are using flour that has not gone rancid.

Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from Thibeault's Table

I have made these with both frozen local blueberries and frozen wild ones.  Both worked wonderfully, just taking longer to bake.  I am also going to make them with raspberries, frozen for now and fresh in a few months.

14 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat
1 cup spelt flour

4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (if using frozen berries leave them frozen)

Put the oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 375°.  Line muffin tins with 24 liners and set aside.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat (it is really best to use a light colored saucepan so you can judge the color of the butter, I used a dark blue one because it was the perfect size and regretted my choice).  Watch the butter closely once it is melted.  Continue to cook until the crackling subsides and little brown solids form in the pan.  It should smell nutty when done.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Whisk together milk, eggs, egg yolks and vanilla until combined.  Add Browned butter and whisk until fully incorporated.  Add sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk in well.  Add flours all at once and stir gently, stirring to the bottom of the bowl under the batter to incorporate all the flour.  Gently fold in the blueberries until they are evenly distributed.

Divide the batter among muffin cups and bake until a wooden pick or knife inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean and the muffins are golden brown.  They should take about 18 to 20 minutes when made with fresh blueberries and 32 to 35 minutes when you use frozen  (I used convection  for the last 5 minutes to brown the tops and because I was getting bored with checking on them).

Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes then remove from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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