This is the story of some muffins. It’s a story I almost wasn’t going to tell you because these muffins disappeared almost as soon as they happened, leaving nary a crumb and certainly no trace of photographic evidence (that’s what morning and house guests will do to muffins, you see). And it’s very rare I cook something twice, so if it’s gone, it’s gone.
Gone-ish. Sometimes I jot down notes from the recipe. Sometimes I share it. And sometimes then, the dish reappears. That’s what these muffins did. They resurfaced, emblazoned with a badge of honor: “simply the best raspberry muffins.”
And, when something comes back having received some acclaim, like the small-town kid who goes out into the world and comes home a few years later having landed a movie contract or an album deal, well, that’s a story worth sharing.
So, ladies and gentlemen, I present you with some raspberry muffins. Some marvelous raspberry muffins. (I used to live near a place called Marvelous Muffins, and I always liked the sound of it. Though their muffins were actually terrible.)
Now, I’ve told you about my trials and tribulations with muffins before, so I won’t put you through that again. I think I’ve mentioned my feelings about what a muffin should be like, that is, so light, tender and crumbly, they just barely hold together, but with a shiny, sturdy, almost crisp top. Sweet, but not too sweet, and packed with lots of fruit. And, I’ve mentioned that one of the keys is room temperature ingredients. But, that bears repeating. Room temperature ingredients! Very important.
After making pear-fig muffins worth waking up for, I developed a base recipe for very delicious muffins, and these are based off of that. But, to be the perfect vehicle for raspberries (my favorite berries, they deserve special care, I feel) I gussied them up even more. I used a combination of crème fraiche and buttermilk for creaminess and tang, but added a little extra sugar to complement the marvelous tartness of raspberries.
And, rather than adding any spices that could potentially cloud the glory of the raspberries, I switched plain old melted butter for browned butter. When is brown butter ever not a good idea, I ask you? Here it adds a subtle nuttiness and mildly indulgent voluptuousness. (You can’t say no to a voluptuous muffin.)
As I mentioned, I didn’t photograph them, so I didn’t plan to write about them, even though they were stunning. They could have been lost in the annals of sublime baked goods that unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for our waist lines) remained secret (there are annals of that, I swear)! But, I did enter the recipe into the Food52 competition for “your best raspberries.” And it was selected as one of the two finalists! An amazing commendation. I was thrilled.
But, then it was down to the voting of the crowds, and the simple (may I editorialize and insert beautifully simple, here?) raspberry muffins were up against some very decadent looking cream-cheesey custards with raspberries. The tension mounts, the suspense builds.
They didn’t win. Ah, well. I’m sorry to say that in general, mine is not the story of someone who wins anything much (ooh, except for this one essay contest in high school. That was exciting.). It’s the story of someone who does a pretty good job at things, but who doesn’t win. More of a real life story. The kid who came home with the movie deal but it turns out to be a role as a supporting actor, you could say. But, I think that’s ok. Real life is real, and that’s a good thing. And it’s also the story of lovely community support and of doing something in one’s spare time that one really loves and is proud of and a good reminder that it’s the playing, not the winning that is the fun part.
Plus, the most important thing is now I have pictures, so I can share them with you! Yay!!! And, maybe these aren’t the very, very best dish with raspberries. But, I think they really are the best raspberry muffins you’ve ever had.
Simply raspberry muffins (makes about one dozen)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (a friend tried this recipe with white whole wheat flour and said they turned out great, I’d also imagine whole wheat pastry flour would work)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. sugar
- 1/2 cup buttermilk AT ROOM TEMP
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche AT ROOM TEMP
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten, AT ROOM TEMP
- 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten, AT ROOM TEMP
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh raspberries (you could also use frozen – don’t defrost if you do – and you could also try other fruits and berries)
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter, and cook over medium heat, stirring nearly constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan as you go, until the butter turns brown and smells nutty. Mine took about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature or slightly warmer.
- Preheat your oven to 350F and grease (or line with muffin cups) a muffin tin.
- In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In another bowl, whisk together the the sugar, buttermilk, and creme fraiche until totally combined. Whisk in the egg and egg yolk until smooth. Finally, whisk in the browned butter and vanilla.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and start to gently fold it together. When it is still quite lumpy and not fully combined, stir in the raspberries. Continue to stir gently just until you see no more dry patches. Don’t overmix!
- Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, filling each well about 3/4s of the way full.
- Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a tester inserted in the center of one comes out clean. Let cool for just a minute or two, and then turn them out of the pan quickly (otherwise the bottoms steam) and cool on a cooling rack. Or eat them warm, with plenty of butter, because that is really what one ought to do with fresh muffins.