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
• 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
• 1/3 cup sugar
• Finely grated zest from 1 lemon
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.