Tag Archives: dessert

Blueberry-lingonberry muffins (or mix and match berries and jam)

14 Jun

A favorite for tea, lunchbox or thoughtful treat for neighbors, caregivers and friends

Nothing makes people happier than a fresh baked treat, except a fresh-baked treat that isn’t too sinful and comes in small enough portions to make sense rather than create guilt.

Such are these blueberry-lingonberry mini-muffins that I adapted from a Stonyfield Farms strawberry muffin recipe. This recipe I first started doing with my beloved niece, The Incomparable Sofía, when she was just little (she is now a gorgeous and grown-up six-and-three-quarter-years-old). Whenever she comes home for a visit, we bake them up too. I miss her goofy little concentrated self and her beautiful long fingers in the kitchen. It is now Leandro’s favorite thing to bake. It is slightly more complicated than my banana bread or banana muffins; just make sure to lay out all your ingredients, measuring spoons and cups, and bowls before calling the kids to the work table and you can easily do it with a three-year-old maniac (or two!)

We prefer blueberries to strawberries (although to be honest, blueberries do lend a greenish tinge to the final product that is a bit weird, though no one ever, ever complains) as I think they have a punchier flavor when baked. I’ve done it with mixed berries, but early on some kids objected to the seed bits in blackberries and raspberries, so I fell out of the habit of using them.

The real key to good berry flavor, though, I learned from Cook’s Illustrated magazine, which suggests adding berry jam. Blueberry jam might be the obvious choice for blueberry muffins, but as a non-jam eater, I just used what I had in the fridge the first time out, which happened to be lingonberry (shout-out to Sofía’s mom, Annika from Sweden; you’ll find it at IKEA) and we liked the tart sweetness so much, we’ve stuck with it. If you are not familiar with them, think red currant or a softer, gentler version of cranberries.

I prefer mini-muffins, because they allow me to divide and share them more easily and because you can feel good about popping just one or two. Leandro’s caregivers really appreciate getting a batch, and it makes a perfect element to a good fika (Swedish coffee break hang out session – coffee klatch to New Yorkers!).

Blueberry-lingonberry/Any-berry muffins (makes 48 mini-muffins or 12 standard)

1 Cup all purpose flour

1 Cup whole wheat flour

½ Cup sugar (white or light brown)

1.5 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1 Cup plain yogurt (I use nonfat, lowfat is also fine)

¼ Cup butter (unsalted preferred, but salted is okay) melted and cooled

1 tsp vanilla

1 Cup chopped/mashed blueberries or berries of your choice (frozen are very convenient. Thaw first)

1-2 Heaping Tbs berry jam (I use lingonberry, but use whatever red/blue/purple berry jam you’ve got)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease your muffin tins ahead (especially if baking with children – Be prepared!)

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

In another bowl mix the eggs, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla (if your butter is still very hot, you may get crusty bits when it comes in contact with the cold yogurt. Just break them up as you mix and don’t worry).

Fold berries into the dry mixture. Fold wet mixture into the dry mixture. Swirl in the jam. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, filling about 2/3 up. Bake for 12 minutes (mini-muffins) or 20-25 minutes (standard size). Cool for a minute, then remove from tins and let cool completely on wire racks (if you’ve got; otherwise any cool, clean surface will do). These keep well tightly covered in the fridge for a week.


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Banana Bread – Share the Love (Easy Family Baking!)

28 Mar

I’ve never been much of a baker – I’ve probably mentioned that I am no good at following instructions – but this banana bread is very forgiving of people who are more “more or less” than precise.

It’s very child-friendly. Leandro and I put it together often and he takes slices to school to dip in yogurt. I especially like to double it (using about 8 bananas total) and slice up some for his caregivers and my colleagues – everyone feels appreciated and esteemed when they are on the receiving end of home-baked loaves of something. I get a lot of requests for this recipe, so here it is! It also freezes well; check the bottom of the recipe for storing instructions.

Easy, Moist and Yummy Banana Bread

4-6 overripe bananas*

1 Cup sugar (1/2 light brown and ½ white works well, but any combination will do; we’ve used a bit of dark brown as well)

2 eggs, beaten

½ Cup vegetable oil

2 Cups flour (up to one cup whole wheat, but beware stone-ground as it may be too coarse)

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Mash bananas in mixing bowl. Add sugar, eggs and oil, one at a time, mixing well with each addition. Sift dry ingredients together (I use a big strainer) and add to banana mixture. Pour in greased 5×9 loaf pan (or 8×8 oven dish) and bake 55-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

*We eat a lot of bananas here, but sometimes I buy too many and they get overripe, even for my son, who likes them sweet and eats the dark spots. Or he just wants half of one and I don’t want the other half. Any overripe or half-bananas get thrown into a plastic freezer bag and when I have approximately six, I make banana bread!

Storage notes: Banana bread should be cooled completely before slicing (I know, fresh-out-of -the-oven warm is so cozy! But it slices much better later on). It stays fresh tightly wrapped out of the fridge for two or three days. The refrigerator isn’t great for it, but you can warm it up a bit before serving. To freeze, slice first, then wrap in foil or plastic wrap and then place in a freezer bag. It’ll keep for at least a month and you can take out a slice at a time when you need a treat.

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