Cooks Illustrated gives me a lot of my recipes, partially because they are mostly all fantastic, and partially because it comes to my house in a pretty magazine and there are only a few recipes in each so it is less overwhelming than a full cookbook. This is one of their recipes that has stuck, it makes a great muffin, and while the recipe in the magazine is for blueberry muffins (and it is good with blueberries), I like to use it for strawberry muffins. It even makes good muffins with less than great strawberries, including frozen ones. I think it would work well for any berry actually.
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
2 cups (about 10oz) of strawberries, fresh or frozen.
1 1/8 cups plus 1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup strawberry yogurt (I use greek yogurt, because it is what I have), thinned with 1/4 cup milk (you can use 1 cup buttermilk, but I like the strawberry flavor added by the yogurt)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Bring 1 cup of strawberries and 1 tsp sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing the berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduce to 1/4 cup, about 6 min. Transfer to small bowl and cook to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogenous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in yogurt-milk (or buttermilk) and vanilla until combined. If using frozen berries, rinse remaining 1 cup of berries in cold water and dry well. Toss frozen berries in flour mixture and then add egg mixture to flour/berry mixture. If using fresh berries pour egg mixture and remaining 1 cup of berries into flour mixture. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture together until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)
- Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture (from step 1) into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer (or knife), gently swirl berry filling into bater using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle topping of choice (see below for options) over muffins.
- Bake until muffin tops are gold and just firm, 17-19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through the baking time, if you remember. Cook muffins in tin for 5 minutes, then remove and cool 5 more minutes.
- Sugar in the raw, sprinkled on top before baking – this is what I use because I’m too lazy/never have the ingredients for anything else.
- Lemon-sugar topping – 1/3 cup sugar stirred with 1 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest until combined, sprinkle over muffins before baking.
- Streusel topping – combine 3 tbsp sugar, 3 tbsp dark brown sugar, pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp all purpose flour in a small bowl. Drizzle with 5 tbsp warm, melted unsalted butter and toss with fork until evenly moistened and mixture forms large chunks with some pea-sized pieces throughout. Sprinkle over muffins before baking
- Orange glaze – Add 2 tsp orange zest to egg mixture in step 2. Proceed with recipe as directed, sprinkling 4 tsp turbinado sugar over muffins before baking. While muffins cool, whisk together 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1 1/2 tbsp orange juice until smooth. Drizzle each cooled muffin with 2 tsp of glaze before serving.
- Almond crunch topping – combine 1/3 cup fined ground almonds and 4 tsp turbinado sugar and set aside. In step 2, add 1/3 cup finely ground almonds to flour mixture. Proceed with recipe as directed, adding 1 tsp almond extract with vanilla extract in step 2 and sprinkling almond topping (that was set aside) over muffins before baking.