Blackberry and Cornmeal Muffins

Blackberry and Cornmeal Muffins

 

It’s been one of those weeks.  A pipe burst in our apartment, and we have had severe damage to our floors and walls.  Nothing like inept handymen sent by your landlord to further make a mess of the situation.  Apart from that, it’s been rainy, cold, and I’m kind of homesick.

That means it’s time for me to get baking, and make some feel good treats for breakfast so I can get my butt to the gym, whenever these lovely men think they’ll finish making holes in our floor!

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This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes cookbook.  I love the taste of blackberries, but don’t really enjoy eating them raw.  They are way too grainy and seedy for me, and store-bought always seem to be incredibly tart!  I always dream of walking through some field, and picking them off their bush, and taste the sweet ripeness that only the sun can provide.  Alas, the only time I have had contact with any wild blackberries is when my daughter brought back silk worms from school as a project.  I had no idea that they only ate blackberry leaves, so I had to hunt out a tree and pick the leaves so they wouldn’t die.  Even though I ABHOR any type of worm.  But, I just can’t let a living thing die, disgusting or not.

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Today we found an array of berries at the market, and I love me some blueberries for breakfast, but picked these up thinking I would make the muffins I saw in Martha’s book.  Brought them home, picked up the book, read the recipe and then realized I don’t have any cornmeal.  I only had Arepa flour.  (Arepas are Colombian cornmeal patties- delicious!)  Even though in Martha’s book it stated for cornmeal, I swapped it in, lessening the amount of sugar that the recipe originally called for.  The Arepa flour that I have has some sugar already in the mix.  I didn’t want them to be overly sweet, either, and I wanted to be able to taste the tartness I find unappealing in the raw berries.  It worked perfectly.  Nice and cornbread like, soft, fluffy, and moist, berries bursting when you take a bite.  Definite “picker upper” on a cold rainy day!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes

Makes 12-16 muffins

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup fine ground yellow cornmeal

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

7 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

1 -2 containers (6 oz each) fresh blackberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 F (190C).  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar.  In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs and melted butter, pour over flour mixture, whisking to combine.

2.  Fill each lined cup with a scant 1/4 cup batter.  Top batter with blackberries (3-4 berries per cup), then sprinkle evenly with remaining sugar.

3.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until evenly browned on top, 20- to 25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before removing muffins.  They are best eaten the day they are baked, but will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Layered Crepe “Cake” with Nutella, Pastry Cream and Summer Berries

Again, my inspiration was from Girl in a Food Frenzy’s post on Crepes.  But this time, I decided to make them without the buckwheat flour.  I wanted them more sweet, less savoury, and have more of a cakey quality.  So I decided to look through my The Beautiful Cookbook: France, which had a recipe for Crepes Suzette.

I think someone somewhere has done the same thing that I’ve done, but I totally wanted a tasty, easy and ridiculously yummy cake to serve on Olympics Opening night…which just happened to be an impromptu celebration of another friends’ birthday.

So, I knew I wanted berries, I knew I wanted Nutella, and I knew I wanted Pastry Cream.  So, all three were combined.  And it was to die for my friends.  Truly, to die for.

Fairly easy to make, even better to eat, here’s the recipe for this simply exquisite “cake”:

For the crepes:

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

2 eggs

1 tsp sugar

3 drops vanilla extract

1 tbsp vegetable oil

For the pastry cream:

1 1/4 cups whole milk (or 2%)

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

3 large egg yolks

1/4 cup white sugar

2 tbsp flour

2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tbsp liqueur (grand marnier, kirsch etc)

1 cup Nutella or melted milk chocolate

3 cups mixed berries, such as strawberries (sliced), raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and currants

Powdered Sugar, for dusting

To make the crepes:

Mix all the ingredients and whisk vigorously, let rest for 30 minutes to an hour.

In the meantime, make the pastry cream.  In a medium, thick bottomed sauce pan, heat the milk and vanilla bean until just boiling.  In a large heat proof bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, flour and cornstarch.  When the milk is hot and just about to boil, pour into your egg mix and whisk continuously so that the eggs don’t curdle.  Pour all the milk in a slow stream and keep whisking until done.  Then pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat until it boils, always mixing, until it thickens.  When it has thickened, take off heat and keep whisking for another minute or so.  Add the liqueur.  Take out the vanilla pod and reserve covered with plastic wrap until using.

If you are using milk chocolate, melt in a double boiler.

Separate about 1/3 cup of pastry cream.

Mix the Nutella (or melted chocolate) into the large bowl of  pastry cream.

In a large sauté pan, heat a good knob of butter until it melts, then wipe away with some kitchen paper.  Add a ladle of crêpe batter, and swirl it around so it covers the whole pan.  Cook for about 40 seconds, and with a spatula lift off and cook the underside, 30 seconds more.  Continue to do this with all the batter.

To make the cake:

Layer nutella pastry cream and strawberries on a crêpe, top with another crêpe, and continue to do so until you don’t have any crepes left.  On the last crêpe, top with the 1/3 cup of pastry cream (without chocolate) top with the mixed berries and currants.  Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, and just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla