Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Blackberry Crumb Muffins

I've always considered muffins my ideal baked good.  I'm not a fan of things that are overly sweet, and while I love cake, I don't have the best relationship with frostings and glazes (aka, I could almost always do without them). Muffins are the solution to my baked good dilemma.  They don't need to be cloyingly sweet (although unfortunately, they often are), and they don't require frosting or glaze to be considered finished.  I love all kinds of muffins, from healthy bran muffins to less healthy chocolate chip muffins because I get the opportunity to eat cake in the mornings and call it breakfast, and few things are better than that. 

While every now and again I'll get a weird, inexplicable craving for an unnecessarily sweet muffin, like a double chocolate chocolate chip muffin, my favorite go-to muffin is the simple kind that comes loaded with fruit and is topped off with a sweet crumble.  I may not like frostings and glazes, but I could never pass up on a crumble or streusel topping.  I mean, could you?  Probably not.  Crumb-topped muffins are the perfect balance between sweet cakes and acceptable breakfast treats.  The presence of a crumb topping means that you can have a barely sweetened muffin base to go along with the sweet, buttery, crumbly mess on top. 

These little muffins are definitely a real breakfast muffin.  They're made with whole wheat flour, are lightly sweetened, and are loaded with fresh berries, so they're not overly sweet and cake-like.  They're an ideal treat to wake up to, however.  Pair one of these muffins with a nice cup of hot coffee and you have yourself a perfect breakfast situation.  A muffin like this is also highly versatile, so you can substitute the blackberries for the fruit of your choice.  Raspberries would be delicious, and I have yet to meet a blueberry muffin that doesn't make me smile.  A trio of berries would also lead to some beautiful muffins.  Fortunately, no matter what fruit you ultimately end up using, this muffin recipe is simple enough to prepare that you can experiment to your heart's content and you stumble across the version that's just right for you. 

Like most good muffin recipes, these are of the no-electric-mixer-required variety, which makes them super simple to mix up.  They do require a couple bowls to wash, but I think these muffins are worth a few extra moments at the sink.  Browned butter is whisked together with sour cream, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract, and is then combined with a mixture of whole wheat and all purpose flours to make a nice, thick muffin batter.  Fresh blackberries are gently folded in, staining the creamy white base with streaks of dark purple.  Muffin cups are filled with the streaky batter, and are then generously sprinkled with the crumb topping.  Twenty minutes in the oven is all it takes to transform the cups of batter into tiny, delectable muffins. 

These muffins are so great because of how quickly they come together.  They're versatile and easy to make, and are highly adaptable.  They're not exactly healthy (ok, they're not at all), but the fresh fruit and whole wheat flour make them feel just a little more wholesome.  The whole wheat flour makes them slightly more dense than a muffin made with only all-purpose flour, but the change in texture is hardly noticeable.  They're still light, but if you prefer your muffins to be on the slightly fluffier side, I'm sure there there would be no issues with substituting the whole wheat flour with additional all purpose flour. These are the kind of muffins that you will want to enjoy over and over again for breakfast, and I can almost guarantee that you'll find it hard to stop at just one muffin.  Enjoy!

Blackberry Crumb Muffins
recipe adapted from The Faux Martha


For the Muffins

1 cups (2 sticks butter), browned
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 cups fresh blackberries

For the Crumb Topping

1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted


Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners, and position a rack in the middle of the oven.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  in a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the browned butter, sour cream, both sugars, the eggs, and vanilla extract until well combined.  Add the browned butter mixture to the flour mixture, stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined.  Gently fold in the fresh blackberries.  The batter will be very thick.

To make the crumb topping, in a small bowl, stir together the all purpose flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the melted butter, and mix with a fork until crumbly.  Set aside. 

Divide the muffin batter evenly among the prepared muffin tins.  Sprinkle some of the crumb topping on top of each muffin.  Bake the muffins in the preheated oven until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes.  Set the muffins on wire racks, and allow them to cool completely before serving.  Enjoy!

Makes about 20 muffins


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