Butter Together: If you can't take the heat, get out of the ... nevermind. There's nowhere to go.

 

Amelia Plair

Amelia Plair

 

 

Amelia Plair

 

 

This week, I've cut my husband's hair -- thank goodness it's curly and doesn't show my many mistakes. I've replaced the hose on the vacuum -- after seven years of patching it with duct tape, it was bittersweet to discover I could replace the dang thing myself for $15 and about five minutes.

 

I've made from-scratch spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce out of fresh tomatoes -- both successes, which is good because Zack is extremely attached to his tomatoes. I've tried to make pizza in the air fryer -- it was an abject failure, and I don't want to talk about it.

 

But more important than any single thing I've done this week is what I haven't done: I've tried everything in my power to avoid turning on the oven (see also, failed pizza experiment). The oven heats up the house to the point that it takes several hours to cool back down.

 

 

That seems like a terrible waste of resources, so I've gotten creative in how I cook suppers. We can have nearly anything we want, but I use our stovetop, pressure cooker, griddle, and air fryer to make it happen. I've avoided turning on the oven at all costs.

 

Except for these muffins. When my sweet friend Rowan gave us some blueberries from a patch of land she has dubbed "the snake pit," I knew it was time to turn on the oven for the two members of my family who love blueberry muffins. (Blueberry pancakes just aren't the same, apparently.)

 

Thank goodness I had a recipe in my back pocket that I knew would be worth the heat.

 

My other secret mission was to use up the drips and dabs of yogurt and sour cream that had gotten overlooked in the fridge. The recipe calls for unflavored yogurt, but the cookbook discusses other options that would work almost as well. In fact, I think I've used unflavored yogurt only once to make these muffins because I usually don't have it on hand.

 

In the end, for this week's version, I used about half a cup of sour cream that was languishing in the bottom of the carton and two individual cups of vanilla yogurt that had gotten trapped in No Man's Land at the back of the refrigerator shelf. That still didn't quite make a cup and a half, so I topped it off with a splash of buttermilk.

 

This recipe comes from the cookbook "he Best Recipe," produced by Cook's Illustrated. I'm going to describe how I incorporated the berries, but this is actually their basic recipe for muffins. You can easily omit the berries or add something different, such as chocolate chips or another fruit.

 

Amelia Plair is a mom and high school teacher in Starkville. Email reaches her at [email protected]

 

 

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

 

 

3 cups all-purpose flour

 

1 tablespoon baking powder (yes, TABLEspoon)

 

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

 

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

10 tablespoons softened butter (that's one stick plus 2 tablespoons)

 

1 scant cup sugar

 

2 eggs

 

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (or substitute flavored yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, or a mix of these)

 

1 1/2 cup blueberries, washed

 

Spray oil

 

 

  • Place oven rack in lower-middle position. Preheat oven to 375 F (350 for a dark or coated pan). Spray standard 12-well muffin tin with oil. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium mixing bowl and set aside.

     

  • Cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes on medium high). Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in half of the dry ingredients. Beat in a third of the yogurt (or equivalent). Beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients. Beat in half the remaining yogurt.

     

  • If adding berries or other mix-ins, turn mixer off at this point. (Put it in your sink or allow a grubby child to touch it so you will not be tempted to use it for the rest of these steps.)

     

  • Toss berries or other mix-ins with the remaining flour mixture; coating them with flour will help them stay suspended in the batter instead sinking to the bottom. Add the flour mixture to the batter and incorporate by hand. (Not with your hands, you maniac.) Add remainder of the yogurt and mix gently until batter is thick but uniform.

     

  • Divide batter evenly into the 12 muffin wells. With muffins, you do not need to leave extra room in the wells for expansion as you do with cupcakes. Muffins will rise to give you the kind of muffin top you actually want. However, the addition of the berries did expand the amount of batter enough to cause my muffins to be a bit top-heavy. If you want to have smaller muffins or just feel nervous about how full your tin is getting, feel free to add a second muffin tin to make about 18 slightly smaller muffins.

     

  • Place in oven and bake until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. If you used 18 wells, begin checking at around the 20-minute mark. If you used only 12 and added berries, it will probably take closer to 30. Allow muffins to cool about 5 minutes in tins and then remove and serve.

     

     

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