Archive for the ‘Blueberries’ Category

Blueberry Sugar-Top Muffins

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

muffsweb

These simple, super tasty muffins are best made with the tiny, low-bush blueberries we have locally in western Massachusetts at this time of year. I call them blue pearls and can’t get enough of them. As I have probably mentioned too many times on this blog, I find them smaller, sweeter, and more freezable than those clunky high-bush berries.

The recipe will work with any kind of blueberry, of course. If your berries are frozen, you will no doubt have to increase the baking time.

This muffin formula comes from a musical acquaintance of mine named Theresa Kubasak, who obtained it from a teaching nun named Gen Cassani. My nephew Michael wolfed down several of these muffins the morning I first baked them.

So of course I made them on Mass Appeal this week, where they were once again a hit. If you watch the video below (and I hope you do, if only to see my spectacular hat in its full glory!), you will have all the information you need by 6:15. I just kept the video rolling so you could see co-host Lauren Zenzie’s enthusiastic reaction to the muffins a couple of minutes later.

Happy blueberry weather!

blue hat wideweb

The Muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
sanding sugar (or regular sugar if that’s all you have) as needed

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 muffin tins with cupcake/muffin liners. Melt the butter over low heat (or in a microwave oven), and set it aside.

In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients. Place the blueberries in a smaller bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the dry mixture to the berries, and toss with a spoon.

Return to the dry ingredients. Stir in the milk and then the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the melted butter, followed by the floured berries. Use a cookie scoop or a tablespoon to fill the prepared muffin tins with batter. Sprinkle sugar on top.

Bake until the muffins begin to brown on top and have no wet batter in the middle, 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 18 small muffins.

And now, the video….

Blueberry Scones at the Leyden Café

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Leyden sign

I know! I post a LOT of scone recipes.

If I had to choose only one pastry to eat for the rest of my life, it would be a scone. Scones include fruit (so they give the eater the illusion of eating vaguely healthily), they are easy to make, and they satisfy the eater … this eater, at any rate.

Of course, I don’t eat them all the time. I’m still on my nutritional cleanse. For a few days a month, however, I allow myself to stray. This month I strayed with a scone (and promptly gave away the rest of the batch!).

This particular recipe was inspired by Karyn Brown, a professional baker who is the culinary brain of the Leyden Café in Leyden, Massachusetts.

I first heard about the Leyden Café last summer as I stood in line waiting for posters at a local copy shop. A woman and her children stepped away from the counter with a brightly colored banner that read “The Leyden Café” in a lively font.

leyden logo web

I told the woman, who introduced herself as Amy St. Clair, that I was unaware that Leyden HAD a café. Leyden has more than twice as many people as my small town of Hawley, but that population doesn’t qualify it as a metropolis by any means. I was surprised to learn that it could support a café.

Amy explained that the café was a very part-time affair, started in the fall of 2014 by a group of townspeople that included her and her friend Robin Neipp. Their aim was to give Leyden’s residents a gathering place and a stronger sense of community.

The café is located on the lower level of the Leyden Town Hall. In general, Amy and Robin informed me, the café is open only once a week, currently on Sundays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. It also operates as needed at town meetings and events.

The Leyden Town Hall in better weather (courtesy of John Phelan)

The Leyden Town Hall in better weather (courtesy of John Phelan)

The café hosts special offerings from time to time, including a market day last fall featuring, in Robin’s words, “Leyden bounty and wares”; movie nights; pottery workshops; and concerts. February’s highlight will be a game night this Friday, the 19th, beginning at 6 p.m.

The café also offers collectibles, maple syrup, and local pottery for sale. Robin Neipp told me that the café regularly welcomes 16 to 20 visitors.

“We are hoping to establish a habit for residents to come to the café, utilize the space, create community events, and maybe someday somewhere somehow perhaps have a store,” she explained.

Meanwhile, she said, she and her colleagues have a lot of fun “reconnecting with and meeting new neighbors and solving world problems in [their] little space.”

Of course, they also enjoy Karyn Brown’s baked goods! Karyn graciously shared this scone recipe with me.

I have to admit that Karyn’s version of the scones is a bit different from mine, and her baked scones probably look much better than mine. She rolls out her scone dough. I am a less expert roller so I resorted to patting mine out.

As you can see, my version of the dough (decorated here with the berries) is a bit rough.

As you can see, my version of the dough (decorated here with the berries) is a bit rough.

She also manages to incorporate 1-1/2 cups of berries into her scones. I could only manage 1 cup. I added a little vanilla to make up for the lost flavor.

The scones were still delicious, denser and richer than my customary scone. My sister-in-law Leigh took one bite and said, “Wow.”

Karyn makes her scones with her own organic blueberries. Luckily, given the season, they are best prepared with frozen berries.

leyden sconeweb

The Scones

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar, plus additional sugar as needed just before baking
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold sweet butter, cut into cubes
3/4 cup heavy cream, plus additional cream as needed just before baking
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup frozen blueberries

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Process the 4 dry ingredients until mixed well in a food processor. Scatter the butter cubes evenly over the mixture and pulse until the butter is pea-sized. Place this mixture in a large bowl.

(If you don’t have a food processor, whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and cut or grate the butter into them).

Measure the cream into a liquid measuring cup; then add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix with a fork or small whisk until the yolks are incorporated.

Add the cream mixture to the dry ingredients and bring the dough together with a rubber spatula. Knead it a few times in the bowl, without working it too much, and pat into a smooth thick rectangle that is about 12 inches long.

Scatter the blueberries evenly over the dough, leaving about an inch border around the edge of your rectangle. Press the berries lightly into the dough.

Roll the dough up like a jelly roll, pressing it gently as you make each rotation and checking to make sure that the dough isn’t sticking; add more flour if it is. When the dough is rolled up, transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Let the roll sit in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up to make cutting the scones easier.

After chilling the dough, cut it into four pieces with a serrated knife using a gentle sawing motion. Cut each section in half on the diagonal.

Return the scones to the lined baking sheet, spacing them evenly. Brush the tops lightly with a small amount of cream; then sprinkle on a bit of sugar or some seasonal sprinkles.

Bake the scones until they are golden and set to the touch (about 25 minutes), rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.

I had no trouble getting the scones off the baking sheet, but if you have any trouble let them cool completely before removing them.

Leftovers will keep for a couple days, although these treats taste best the day they are baked. Makes 8 scones.

Cutting the scones

Cutting the scones

Summer Fruit Key-Lime Pie

Friday, August 10th, 2012

I have mentioned before how much I love key-lime juice and key-lime pie. I love being able to buy key-lime juice from Nellie & Joe’s just about anywhere. (No, Nellie and Joe didn’t pay me or give me anything to say that. It’s the plain truth.)

I had a request for key-lime pie a couple of weeks ago. I also had a whole bunch of lovely fresh fruit in the house, including gorgeous tiny blueberries and the first peaches of the season. So I decided to add a little local fruit to my key-lime creation.

The result was an incredibly easy to make (and easy to eat) melding of north and south, sweet and tart.

My camera is broken, but luckily one of my guests, Alison Seaton, brought along her IPhone and took a photo of the pie before it disappeared completely.

The Pie

Ingredients:

for the fruit layer:

2 cups mixed fruit (peaches and blueberries … or peaches and blueberries and raspberries!)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons key-lime juice
1/1-2 teaspoons cornstarch

for the key-lime layer:

1/2 cup key-lime juice
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks

for assembly:

1 uncooked 8- or 9-inch graham cracker crust (I made this from scratch, but store bought will do in a pinch)

for presentation:

whipped cream to taste (optional but good)

Instructions:

This recipe is best prepared several hours in advance.

Combine the fruit, sugar, and 2 tablespoons key-lime juice in a nonreactive saucepan. If you have time, let them sit for half an hour or so. Otherwise, forge ahead!

Stir in the cornstarch. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside to cool. When it is at room temperature, cover and refrigerate the fruit mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl whisk together the ingredients for the key-lime layer. Pour them into the pie crust.

Bake the pie for 20 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and let it cool to room temperature; then cover it and place it in the freezer.

About an hour before you are ready to serve your pie, pour the fruit layer on top of the key-lime layer and put the whole thing in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.

Serve with whipped cream as desired. Serves 6.

Blueberry Bread (A Tasty Work in Progress)

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Last week I picked up my annual box of blueberries from the Benson Place in Heath, Massachusetts. I have written before of my love of the tiny blue pearls that come from Heath’s low-bush plants. These berries always seem sweeter than the fat, high-bush variety. I buy a big box of them every summer so that I can eat a lot and still have plenty to freeze for year-round baking.

I wanted to bring something blueberry-ish to my friend Ken to eat on the morning of his birthday and decided to adapt a strawberry bread recipe I was given many years ago—so many years ago, in fact, that I can’t remember who gave it to me. (If parts of it look familiar, please let me know that you are its original baker!)

The bread wasn’t perfect; it featured one of my baking foibles, swamping in the middle. I will refine the recipe one of these days; I think I may be able to avoid the swamping if I use soft (instead of melted) butter and combine it with the sugar before adding everything to the flour. I was going to wait until I had tinkered to post the recipe … but the gang at Ken’s birthday breakfast convinced me that the bread was blogworthy in its present form, swamp or no swamp.

Pat Leuchtman, a founder of the Heath Gourmet Club, rated it A-Plus … and even featured a photo of it on her blog, Commonweeder.

So I’m offering you the recipe as it is. It is chock full of blueberries—and the glaze, colored by the berries themselves into a gorgeous fuchsia tone, is pretty spectacular to look at and to eat.

The Bread

Ingredients:

3 cups blueberries
1/4 cup sugar plus 2 cups later
1 tablespoon key-lime juice
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups melted butter (2-1/2 sticks)
4 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
confectioner’s sugar as needed (about 1 cup)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease two loaf pans.

Place 1/2 cup blueberries in a saucepan; put the remaining berries in a medium mixing bowl. Add the 1/4 cup sugar and the key-lime juice to the berries in the saucepan. Stir and set aside.

Place 1/4 cup of the flour in the bowl with the blueberries and toss the mixture to coat the berries. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the remaining flour, the remaining 2 cups of sugar, the baking soda, and the salt. Making a well in the center of this dry mixture, and stir in the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in the floured berries.

Pour the batter into the loaf pans, and bake at 350 until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaves comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool the breads in their pans for 10 minutes; then remove them from the pans and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

While the bread is cooling make the glaze. Heat the mixture in the saucepan until it boils, mashing as it heats. Strain the blueberry juice (discarding the resulting solids), and whisk confectioner’s sugar into the juice until you have a slightly thick sauce. When the sauce and the bread are cool, drizzle the sauce over the bread. Makes 2 loaves.

Blueberry Birthday

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

 
Today was my sister-in-law Leigh’s birthday. (I hope you had fun, Leigh.)
 
Leigh and her family have returned home to Virginia from Massachusetts so the Weisblats weren’t able to celebrate the big day together tonight. We did make a cake for Leigh a couple of days ago, however.
 
Knowing that the tiny low-bush blueberries are currently in season in our area, the birthday girl requested a blueberry cake. Luckily, I had a fabulous rich one in my repertoire thanks to my friend Stu Cosby.
 
This cake needs absolutely no icing. It has plenty of butter inside, and the delicate flavor of the blueberries makes it pretty much irresistible. 

With a birthday in the offing, however, I felt the need to make the blueberry cake a little extra pretty so I gilded the lily for Leigh. She deserves a little extra gold in her life. She’s a great sister-in-law to me and daughter-in-law to Jan.

 
Blueberry Bundt Cake
 
Ingredients:
 
for the cake:
 
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pint blueberries (you may add a few extra if you’re in blueberry heaven)
 
for the optional coulis:
 
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
 
for the optional icing:
 
1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter at room temperature
2 to 3 cups confectioner’s sugar (to taste)
2 teaspoons vanilla
 
Instructions:
 
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
 
In a small bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar to the butter and cream the mixture again. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, followed by the vanilla. Blend the batter until smooth.
 
Add 2 cups of the flour mixture to the batter. Dredge the blueberries in the remaining flour mixture. Gently fold the coated blueberries and remaining flour into the batter, and pour it into the prepared baking pan.
 
Bake the cake until it tests done, about 1 hour to 1 and 1/2 hours (frozen blueberries obviously take longer than fresh ones!). Cool the cake for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. Allow it to finish cooling on a wire rack. 

The cake serves 10 to 12 with or without icing. 

If you really MUST make the icing and coulis, here are the instructions:
 
First, make the coulis (it has to cool). In a small saucepan combine the ingredients over low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture liquefies; then stir frequently.
 
Boil the coulis for 8 minutes. Strain it through a strainer and discard the solids. Let it cool in the refrigerator for an hour or so.
 
For the icing cream the butter. Add the sugar a little at a time until you achieve your ideal consistency and flavor. Beat in the vanilla. 

Ice the cake with the icing, and drizzle the coulis on top. Beautiful!

Blueberry Cake on Foodista