There comes a time when you have to ask.

‘How many recipes for a blueberry muffin do I really need?’

The answer is; one. And I’m pretty sure this is it.

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A bad muffin is a sad thing. They can be oily on the fingertips, bloated and blousy with flour, or sodden from an enthusiastic ballast of too much fruit. The worst examples are as overblown as a politician’s confidence, cascading out of their constraints, creeping sideways across the mouth of your tin. There’s a reason that ‘muffin top’ became an unpleasant descriptor of appearance.

What you need; what you want -is one with a calm and steady sense of self. Which manages to be tender but not greasy, with an even distribution of fruit and a little zip of tartness which makes the natural sweetness of the blueberries even more pronounced.

These are those muffins. They  are ripe for celebrations big and small. They’re perfect for taking around to cluck at someone’s new house. They’re just right for pulling out of the oven when you’ve got strangers coming to inspect yours. And, as my niece Phoebe will attest, they don’t go down too badly at a baby shower either.

It wasn’t meant to be a baby shower. It’s not a phrase I’m comfortable with. I’m not at one with novelty games. I’m not that good at being the centre of attention. I don’t go in for that much cutesy-ness. And for as much time as I’ve spent fawning over tiny jumpsuits and frittering away on the intricacies of various nappy disposal systems, I’m still dogged by a reserved pessimism. It might be hormones. It might be a cautious nature- but I’m not in the habit of counting chickens before they hatch.  And that includes the stowaway. I may hide it with a macabre sense of humour (that often borders on the frankly unprintable), but I’m finding all of this good fortune hard to digest. There has to be a catch, at some point- doesn’t there?

And yet, on a sunny Saturday morning, there I was- at my oldest friend’s new house, surrounded by a small group of women, doing what we do best; namely eating cake and chatting.

There were blue and white candy striped decorations and we had sunshine streaming through the double doors. The menu was simple, but perfectly thought out for a Sydney gathering; corn fritters with guacamole and a sticky tomato relish and mini banh mi style rolls made from chicken, ginger and coconut meatballs that were paired with a carrot and coriander slaw on small hunks of baguette. We had brownies. There were tiny vanilla and red velvet cup cakes, decorated with baby footprints, bears and sprinkles.  There were fruit plates and bottles of bubbles.

Someone made my black bean and raspberry loaf.  And then I brought muffins. A woman can’t turn up empty handed.

There was chat and cuddles with other small folk.  And then there were presents.

I have been spoiled beyond belief. Unpacking it all again the next morning with The Hungry One we realised that thanks to the generosity of friends and family, the stowaway is virtually all accounted for.

And now that we’ve cracked the ultimate muffin recipe, I’m breathing a sigh of relief about one thing at least.  All we need to do now is stock the freezer, sit back and wait for the little man to arrive.

But until then; let there be cake (because let’s not kid ourselves. This is cake. Even if we’re eating it for breakfast).

Blueberry Yoghurt Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

There are a few hints and tips which make this muffin recipe the ultimate. The first is make sure your butter is soft- not melted- just soft from being out of the fridge for a few hours- and cream it well on its own to start with- this will help add levity. Also be sure to beat in the sugar for longer than you think you should. Essentially, muffin is a small cake- so treat it the same way.  Then there’s the yoghurt- it adds richness, tang and creaminess. I think it’s better than buttermilk and superior to normal milk. As for the lemon zest, you could easily substitute orange or mandarin/clementine zest, but I think there needs to be some to highlight the natural sweetness of the berries. In order to ensure a good pop and an even distribution of the fruit in the muffin, I like to use frozen berries and to toss them in a tablespoon of flour first. This helps  stop them sinking. And lastly, when mixing the wet batter with the flour do it in two stages, starting with the dry and ending with the dry- and try not to work the gluten in the flour too much.

These are best warm from the oven, but they do freeze ok and are easily perked up with 30 seconds in the microwave.

Nb, you could easily substitute other berries for blueberries- but to me, they’re classic.

 Shopping/foraging

 

110 grams unsalted butter (room temperature)
150 grams caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
Zest of half a lemon (or orange or clementine/mandarin)
1 cup of Greek Yoghurt
240 grams plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bi carb soda
180 grams of frozen blueberries, tossed in 1 tbsp of extra flour

Here’s how we roll

1) Preheat the oven to 190 C/375 F.

2) Grease a 12 hole muffin tray.

3) Beat the butter until it is soft and pliant. Add the sugar and beat until it is duckling yellow, light and fluffy.

4) Add the egg and beat again until smooth.

5) Add the lemon zest and 3/4 of the yoghurt and stir to combine.

6) Sift in half of the flour/bicarb/baking soda and fold together.

7) Add the remaining yoghurt and fold.

8) Sift in the rest of the flour/baking soda/bicarb.

9) Toss the frozen blueberries in the flour and then fold them into the batter, being careful not to mix too vigorously and make the flour tough.

 

11) Portion out into the muffin bases.

12) Bake for 25 minutes until the tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.