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Mulberry Muffins

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Homemade muffins made with wild mulberries and lemon. Photo by Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley.

By Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Mulberries should be peaking right now, and one of my favorite ways to eat them is in a muffin — or two.

A couple hints on using mulberries: One, collect a combination of ripe and unripe berries for better flavor; ripe mulberries are sweet, but flat-tasting, and the acidity of unripe berries will improve the end result. Two, mulberries are so delicate that they can be a pain to handle. Forget about trying to remove the stems while they’re fresh, because you’ll crush half of them. A tip that I learned from a friend is to scatter fresh berries in one layer on a cookie sheet and freeze. When the mulberries harden, the stems will be easier to remove.

Servings: 12 muffins
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Ingredients:
• 2½ cups of fresh mulberries, stems removed
• 1 tbs. lemon juice
• 1¼ cups of sugar, plus 1 tsp.
• 2½ cups all-purpose flour
• 2½ tsp. baking powder
• 1 tsp. salt
• 2 large eggs
• 4 tbs. of butter, melted and cooled slightly
• ¼ cup vegetable oil
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
Lemon-Sugar Topping:
• 1/3 cup sugar
• Finely grated zest from 1 lemon

Directions:

1. Move oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of mulberries, 1 tbs. of lemon juice and 1 tsp. of sugar to a simmer over medium heat. Mash the mulberries a few times to release juices, and simmer until the mixture becomes thick and less watery, about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Then transfer cooked mulberries to a bowl and allow to cool at room temperature.

2. In a large bowl, stir flour, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1¼ cup of sugar and eggs until thick and completely smooth; then slowly whisk in cooled melted butter, oil, buttermilk and vanilla extract into the egg-sugar mixture. Next, fold in egg mixture and remaining fresh mulberries into the flour mixture until just moistened, but still lumpy — do not over mix.

3. Spray a standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Divide the batter equally among the muffin cups. Then spoon cooked mulberry mixture into the center of each muffin well, and then use a chopstick or skewer to swirl berry filling through the batter.

4. Combine lemon zest and 1/3 cup of sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle on top of the muffin batter. Bake muffins for 17-19 minutes, or until just firm, rotating the muffin tin halfway through baking. Remove from oven and allow muffins to sit in the tin for 5 minutes, before taking them out to cool on a cooling rack before serving.

About Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

NEBRASKAland Associate Editor Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley was born in Nha Trang, Vietnam, and moved to the United States with her parents in 1992. She graduated from Bolsa Grande High School in Garden Grove, California, in 2008 and completed her bachelor’s degree at UCLA in 2012. Wheatley was editor-in-chief for her high school newspaper and continued to write in college, freelancing for various publications, the Tiger Woods Foundation and writing for her blog FoodForHunters.com. After graduating college, she moved to Nebraska in early 2013 to join the Commission as Regional Editor at NEBRASKAland Magazine. She then became associate editor in 2015. Wheatley enjoys hiking, camping, horseback riding, hunting, fishing and wild game cooking.