One of my loves is great food, and I’m willing to put out the effort required to create great food at home. I am primarily a self-taught cook, but I do have some favorite resources. One of these is a book titled “The Bread Bible” by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Rose is an accomplished baker and author, and over the years I’ve learned a ton from her bread and cake bibles. I am a “scratch” baker (unfortunately however I’m not a scratch golfer) and I don’t use prepared box mixes. Last month I joined an online baking community, Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers, and am participating in a bake-along based on Rose’s book.
Our May recipe was for blueberry muffins. Out of respect for Rose, I won’t post the recipe here, but I’ll provide a link to a PDF from Rose with the recipe. These muffins are particularly moist and tender due to the use of sour cream. They also have a perky lemon undertone from a touch of lemon zest. I normally make a double recipe since the yield as written is 6 muffins—with muffins this tasty, it only makes sense to do so.
French chefs cook with a principle called mise en place which translated simply means everything in its place. In practice it means to organize and prepare all of your ingredients before you begin. I find this approach helpful so that I don’t leave anything out or begin to cook without realizing a critical ingredient is missing. You’ll see the butter and sugar are in the mixer bowl for the first step in the process, and all of my other ingredients are laid out and ready in prep bowls or measuring containers. I will mention that instead of fresh lemon zest, I have substituted an equivalent amount of lemon emulsion. Used in professional bakeries, lemon emulsion is water based so that it maintains its flavor during cooking unlike an alcohol based extract. Also, Rose specifies Gold Medal or Pillsbury all purpose flour. Over the years I’ve had fine results with King Arthur flour, and this past week I successfully experimented with Whole Foods 365 organic all purpose flour.
After creaming together the butter and sugar, the next group of ingredients are added resulting in a creamy lemon colored mixture. I’ll then remove the bowl from the mixer so that the sour cream and dry ingredients can be folded in by hand. This results in a very thick batter. The final step is to gently fold in fresh organic blueberries.
In summary, these are really delicious, and easy enough for a beginning baker to excel with due to Rose’s recipe specific directions and techniques as described in her book. These muffins are really superior to store bought or muffins made from jiffy type mixes. I hope you’ll give scratch baking a try if you’re not already into it!