By Lukas Volger
These are inspired by an oatmeal muffin recipe I love, created by Martha Rose Shulman for the New York Times, where cooked steel-cut oats are folded into the batter. I use leftover polenta in that way here. The muffins aren’t too sweet, with berry flavor that’s more subtle than most berry muffin recipes, and they puff up gorgeously in the oven, with a soft and tender crumb. Rather than folding fresh berries in, I think the extra step of cooking the fruit down with some sugar and adding a layer of berry “compote” in the muffin is a lot better—it concentrates the berry flavor, but more importantly it eliminates those loose little pockets of slimy berry that, IMHO, ruin so many blueberry muffins. Also, if you don’t have buttermilk (I never do) you can thin out yogurt or sour cream (or a combination of both) with milk to get an equivalent volume.
Makes 12 servings
Time: About an hour
Oil or melted butter, for greasing
1 c frozen or fresh berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
2 T granulated sugar
2 ½ c all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
½ t salt
1 ⅓ c yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, or a combination (see headnote)
1 c leftover cooked polenta
¼ c brown sugar
¼ c melted butter
1 t vanilla or almond extract
1. Grease 12 muffin tins (I use a pastry brush for this—smearing oil or melted butter all over all the cups and the top of the pan) or fit with muffin liners. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
2. Combine the berries and granulated sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a rapid simmer, then cook for 5 to 7 minutes, til reduced slightly. Let cool as you prepare the batter.
3. In one bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; in another whisk the yogurt, cooked polenta, eggs, brown sugar, butter and vanilla. Then fold the wet into the dry, careful not to over-mix.
4. Dollop a heaping tablespoon of batter into the bottom of the muffin tins. Divide the cooked berries mixture over, followed by the remaining muffin batter—so that there's a layer of berry in the middle of the batter. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned, gorgeously puffed, and a toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve warm or at room temp.
Lukas Volger is a cookbook author (his most recent book is Start Simple) and Cofounder and Editorial Director of Jarry, a queer food journal.