The lilacs are just blooming in Maine. Once, a million summers ago, I drove from San Francisco to Maine and witnessed spring five times, like a film reversing, fast forwarding, looping back, tulips in slow mo, and lilacs three times. Our lilacs are just husks now and the first round of sugar snap peas have already been plucked. Blue skies and it feels like summer. It’s hard to be maudlin after eating a freshly plucked strawberry still bright with flavor and warm from the sun.
Today is my mother’s birthday and if she was still alive I would be plotting her birthday dinner, though last year we had birthday lunch, and while I still miss her and hear her voice and see her smile, somehow it’s all made better by the lingering scent of tomato leaves on my fingers and the sun on my back and the affirmations of life all around me.
And if the flowers and blue sky and berries weren’t enough to lift my mood there is a newborn baby. People think I don’t like babies because I don’t have to hold them or carry on one-sided conversations with them in a high-pitched googly voice or show much interest in babies that belong to strangers. But when close friends have babies I care and I bake muffins. It turns out that new mothers, sleep deprived and hungry for the first time in months, really like muffins.
With all my talk of botanical bounty the only fruit that’s abundant here now are strawberries. Much like tomatoes, strawberries are one of those fruits that transform from mediocre to magnificent when vine ripened and fresh.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour see notes
- 1 TBS baking powder
- ½ tsp salt omit or reduce to just a pinch if using salted butter
- 1 egg
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 3/4 cup yogurt Any unsweetened variety will work, see notes
- 1/4 cup half and half
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1½-2 cups fresh strawberries cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- Preheat the oven to 350
- Prep full size muffin tin by greasing or lining with paper liners
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate medium bowl whisk the egg until well-combined and light-colored, about 20 seconds. Add the sugar and whisk vigorously until thick, about 30 seconds. Slowly add the melted butter whisking to combine. Then pour in the yogurt, milk, half and half, and vanilla- whisking just to combine after each addition.
- Add the berries to the dry ingredients and gently toss. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and fold with a rubber spatula until the batter just comes together and the berries are evenly distributed. Small bits of flour may still be visible. The batter will be very thick, don't over mix.
- Using a large spoon or a cookie scoop divide the batter into the muffin cups, they will be almost full.
- Bake until the muffins are light golden brown and a toothpick or thin knife inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Allow muffins to cool in the tin for a minute or two before removing to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.
If you want to add a bit of whole grain goodness you can sub out some or all of the AP flour with whole wheat pastry flour. I usually only sub about a half a cup if I don't want the change to be noticeable.
The original recipe calls for 1 1/4 cup sour cream which I normally switch straight out for greek yogurt, because it's actually sour, but on this particular day I only had 3/4 cup yogurt left so I supplemented with milk and half and half. The second time I made these I just used yogurt and while the flavor profile was almost the same the muffins seemed a bit more delicate.
I made a video of the process that I posted on the Facebook page. It’s low tech but it gives you an idea how simple these are. I made the second batch with one hand holding my phone.