Red, White & Blueberry Cake

Red, White & Blueberry CakeThe Fourth of July is just a few days away, y’all! While you may be thinking about vacation or grilling or how to keep your dog safe during the fireworks, I am over here thinking about—what else—cake! Red, White & Blueberry Cake, to be specific. Yes, a layer cake that is loaded with strawberries, blueberries, and tons of whipped cream. It showcases some peak summer produce and looks pretty patriotic, too! This is my kind of Independence Day dessert.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeThe cake itself if a classic white cake. I used my Vanilla Layer Cake as a starting point, manipulating the recipe until I had a light, fluffy result. The most significant change is that there are no whole eggs in the recipe; if there were, the cake wouldn’t be white! Only egg whites are used here. They are whipped to the point where they hold stiff peaks before being folded into the batter. The air in the whipped egg whites, along with a hefty dose of baking powder and sifted dry ingredients, will keep the resulting cake light and airy.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeWhile the egg whites give the cake tons of structure, their complete lack of fat has the potential to dry it out. I did a few things to counteract this:

  • I reduced the flour. Egg whites provide tons of structure in baked goods, so I was confident that cutting a bit of the flour wouldn’t affect the cake’s ability to bake properly.
  • I used butter and oil. I wanted this cake to have a buttery flavor, but as butter is 15% water, I was concerned that the results could be dry. This recipe requires 3/4 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil, like vegetable or canola oil. This small amount of oil keeps the cakes nice and moist.
  • I used a combination of regular milk and sour cream in place of buttermilk. Sour cream’s thick texture and fat content keep this cake super moist. Also, as it has been “soured,” when combined with milk, it mimics the tenderizing qualities of buttermilk.

But enough about the chemistry of cake batter. This white cake is crazy delicious—soft, buttery, and flavored with vanilla and almond extracts (you can leave the almond extract out if you have a tree nut allergy). It would be spectacular with a little vanilla buttercream, but that’s not the direction we’re going in today.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeInstead of frosting this cake with buttercream, we’re using Whipped Cream Frosting! It’s a lot like regular whipped cream, except that it won’t weep or slouch after an hour or two. Many recipes for Whipped Cream Frosting require gelatin, but I don’t care for the texture it produces. Instead, our whipped cream is stabilized with sour cream. This adjustment allows for the whipped cream to hold up for days! Just beat some heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form, and then use a handheld whisk to incorporate the sour cream until you achieve stiff peaks. Don’t be tempted to add the sour cream all at once—this will deflate your whipped cream. Instead, add it by the spoonful. This sounds tedious, but it really doesn’t take long at all.

For those of you who do not care for the flavor of sour cream, know that I don’t either. Its flavor here is very subtle, especially when combined with the white cake and berries. If you really don’t wish to use it, you may substitute creme fraiche or cream cheese.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeRed, White & Blueberry CakeRed, White & Blueberry CakeTo assemble the cake, slice both baked layers equatorially so that you have four very thin layers. If the idea of slicing a cake layer in half intimidates you, just know that they don’t have to be perfect—mine certainly were not! Just do your best. Lay one cut-side up on a serving plate (or a cake round, if you are me and can’t fit a serving plate in your fridge). Top the layer with some sliced strawberries and a few tablespoons of blueberries before spreading whipped cream frosting over the top. It may seem illogical to put the fruit directly on the cake, but it allows the berries’ juices to soak into the cake instead of breaking down the whipped cream. This is just insurance that your leftovers won’t get gross in the refrigerator. Repeat the layering process two more times before placing your last thin layer cut-side down. Use the rest of the whipped cream to frost the cake. I went for the naked cake look, but you may do whatever you like. Make sure to decorate with more berries!

Red, White & Blueberry Cake
Sliced 15 minutes after assembly.
Red, White & Blueberry Cake
Sliced after chilling in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Red, White & Blueberry Cake may be served immediately after assembly, but know that the whipped cream frosting may squish out the sides a bit. This doesn’t bother me one bit, but know that a couple hours in the refrigerator will help the cake stay more intact.

Look at that! Cake, berries, whipped cream, and a little patriotic flair. Add fireworks and you’re in for a great Fourth of July.Red, White & Blueberry Cake

Red, White & Blueberry Cake
makes 1 9″ round layer cake

To Grease the Pans:
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cake:
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups milk (not skim or fat-free)
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
4 large egg whites, room temperature

Whipped Cream Frosting:
3 cups heavy cream, cold
4-6 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup full-fat sour cream

For Assembly:
1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
6 ounces fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the pans. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together oil and flour. Use a pastry brush to apply a thin layer to the entire insides of two 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Sift together four times. Do not skip this step. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, oil, vanilla and almond extracts, sour cream, and milk. Set aside.

Place egg whites in a clean, dry medium-large mixing bowl. Use the whisk attachment on an electric mixer to beat egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold stiff peaks. Do not over mix. Set aside.

Fold dry ingredients into wet in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Carefully fold half the whipped egg whites into the batter, followed by the other half.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Lightly tap each pan on the counter a couple of times just to help any large air bubbles dissipate. Bake for 32-37 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pans for fifteen minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge of the pans and inverting the layers onto a rack. Allow to cool completely.

Make the whipped cream frosting. Combine heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat mixture until soft peaks form. Switch to use a hand whisk. Add sour cream by the spoonful, whipping until stiff peaks form.

Slice cake layers in half equatorially. Lay one cut-side up on a serving dish or cake round. Top with about 1/3 of the strawberry slices and 3-4 tablespoons blueberries. Drop large spoonfuls of whipped cream over the top and spread them out with an offset icing spatula. Repeat this process two more times. Place the last layer on the top cut-side down. Frost and decorate with berries as desired. Serve or refrigerate immediately.

Leftover cake will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days.

High Rise Cinnamon Rolls

High Rise Cinnamon RollsEvery once in a while, it’s fun to break the rules. Take these High Rise Cinnamon Rolls, for instance. Generally speaking, sweet rolls are usually baked close together, producing a bunch of puffy rolls in one even layer. But if you change just a few things about those traditional recipes, you wind up with tall-spired cinnamon rolls with crispy edges and soft centers.

High Rise Cinnamon RollsHigh Rise Cinnamon Rolls are my take on the rolls at The Upper Crust Bakery in Austin, Texas. Whenever I visit my sister, Emily, down there, I just have to have one. Rather than being baked together, theirs are baked in muffin tins—crispy edges and soft centers, y’all! 

High Rise Cinnamon RollsGetting these cinnamon rolls to turn out like those that inspired them wasn’t as easy as just placing the rolls in muffin cups and letting them rise. Nope! I did that for round one and ended up with flat rolls. After doing a little more research, I set out to alter my usual method.

High Rise Cinnamon RollsHigh Rise Cinnamon RollsThe simplest (but ultimately, most dramatic) change is in the rolling. Once your yeast dough is made, risen once, flattened into a rectangle, and filled, it’s time to roll it up. Traditionally, the sheet of dough is rolled starting at a long edge. Here, we roll the dough from one of the short edges. This allows for each roll to have a longer spiral.

High Rise Cinnamon RollsOnce the dough is rolled into a cylinder, slice it into a dozen pieces. Working with one at a time, pick it up and gently press the bottom center upward before placing the roll in a greased muffin cup. This small amount of pressure encourages the rolls to expand up instead of out during their second rise.

High Rise Cinnamon RollsHigh Rise Cinnamon RollsAfter the rolls have spiraled upward, bake them for twenty minutes or so—they should be deeply golden. And look at those tall spires! Some of them may start to topple over a bit, but I kind of love that no two are exactly alike.

High Rise Cinnamon RollsHigh Rise Cinnamon RollsHigh Rise Cinnamon RollsWhile you could certainly top these High Rise Cinnamon Rolls with a quick glaze or cream cheese frosting, I take another note from Upper Crust here and dip each in butter and cinnamon-sugar! The contrast between the caramelized cinnamon filling and the crunchy granules on the outside is absolute heaven.

High Rise Cinnamon RollsYep, it’s good to break the rules every once in a while. Especially when it involves cinnamon rolls.High Rise Cinnamon Rolls

High Rise Cinnamon Rolls
makes 12 rolls

Dough:
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 3/4-2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup bread flour
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, beaten

Filling:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Coating:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Make the dough. In a small saucepan, heat whole milk and butter until hot to the touch, about 115F. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Stir in sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until the yeast is bubbly. If your yeast doesn’t bubble, it’s dead. Discard the mixture and start again with new yeast.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, bread flour, and salt. Once the yeast has bloomed, use a silicone spatula to stir in flour mixture. Stir in eggs. Add more flour in 2 tablespoon increments, just until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. I usually need 4-6 tablespoons more flour, but you may add up to 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) depending on your dough.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes, until smooth. Place dough ball in an oiled bowl and cover in plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free environment for 90 minutes-2 hours, until doubled in bulk.

Grease a 12-cup standard muffin tin. Set aside. 

Make the filling. In a small bowl, use a fork to mash butter, light brown sugar, and cinnamon into a paste.

Punch dough down. Turn it out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough out into an 11×17-inch rectangle. Spread the filling in an even layer over the top, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Starting with one of the short sides, tightly roll the dough into a cylinder. Smooth any seams with your thumbs. Slice into 12 rolls. Place the rolls in the muffin cups, lightly pushing up the middle of each roll. Loosely drape the pan with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free environment to rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the plastic wrap from the pan. Bake rolls 20-25 minutes, until browned with lofty spiraled centers. Let rolls cool in the pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes. Remove rolls from the pan and let cool completely on the rack.

Prepare the coating. Melt butter in the microwave or in a pot on the stove. In a shallow dish, stir together sugar and cinnamon. Working with one roll at a time, dip each in butter and then roll or sprinkle them with cinnamon-sugar. Serve immediately.

Coated rolls will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days. Uncoated rolls may be frozen. Thaw and coat before serving.

Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsWhy is it that I always want to make pie when I simply don’t have the time? I would love to take a week off of work just to make pie and drink cold brew, but I know for a fact that I would make exactly one pie and spend the rest of the week trying to get to the beach.

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsI’m looking forward to many adventures this summer, but for now, it’s mostly business as usual: lots of work, lots of baseball-watching, lots of late nights, pounds and pounds of seasonal fruit, and every intention of making pie. But again, there is no time for all the rolling and cutting and chilling that goes with pie. Not this week, anyway. I think I’ll just stick with these Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars instead.

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsThese bars have everything you love about sweet cherry pie, but are half the work. Less than half, even. There’s buttery crust and crunchy, nubbly topping. There’s sticky, not-too-sweet cherry filling. And there’s exactly zero chilling, rolling, crimping, and railing at the universe because the heat is melting all the butter in your must-must-must-stay-cold pie dough. That’s my kind of summer day dessert.

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsSweet Cherry Shortbread Bars come together fairly quickly and are very simple to make. Leave your mixer in the cabinet—you won’t need it today. Just fold together a couple pounds of pitted sweet cherries (feel free to use frozen), sugar, nutmeg, cornstarch, and salt. I like to add a bit of almond extract too, as it pairs well with cherries, but feel free to leave it out if you don’t have any or are allergic to tree nuts. The filling will look powdery at first, but it will release some liquid as it sits.

The next step is making the shortbread. I freaking love shortbread. It requires minimal ingredients and ability, and is far more than the sum of its parts. Here, it serves as both the crust and the topping. To make this shortbread, just rub cold butter into a mixture of flour, sugar, and salt. A cohesive dough will not form—the mixture will be powdery overall, but should hold together when pinched. Once the butter is broken down in the dry ingredients, set aside a cup of the mixture for topping.

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsSweet Cherry Shortbread BarsSweet Cherry Shortbread BarsNext, assemble the bars. Pour the remaining shortbread mixture into a foil-lined square baking dish and press it into an even layer. Then, dock it with a fork.

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsSweet Cherry Shortbread BarsSweet Cherry Shortbread BarsTop the crust with the cherry mixture, discarding any excess liquid. Grab that reserved cup of the shortbread mixture. Working with just a little bit at a time, pinch it together and scatter little clumps of dough over the cherries. When that’s done, bake the assembled bars for 40-50 minutes, transferring the pan to the bottom rack at the halfway point. You’ll know they’re done when the filling just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled. Oh, and when your kitchen smells incredible 😊

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsAnd now, for the hard part—cooling. Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars must cool to room temperature before you slice them. It’s the difference between the clean edges you see here and a gooey, crumbly mess. If you are short on time (or just impatient), you may place the pan in the freezer once you can handle it without oven mitts. It’ll bring the bars to room temperature in 45 minutes or so.

Once the bars are cool, use the foil overhang to remove them to a cutting board and peel off the foil. I find this easiest to do by removing the foil on the sides, slicing the bars, and then using a thin spatula to lift them from the foil on the bottom. However you go about it though, you’re in for a treat. 

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsLook at these beauties! That buttery, flaky shortbread and the beautiful cherry filling—I can’t get enough. Who needs pie when you can have Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars?!Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars

Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars
makes one 9-inch square pan, about 9 bars

Cherry Filling:
2 pounds whole sweet red cherries, stemmed and pitted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)

Shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes

Place oven racks in top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease foil with butter. Set aside.

Make cherry filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine pitted cherries, sugar, nutmeg, cornstarch, salt, and almond extract. Fold everything together with a silicone spatula. Set aside, stirring occasionally, while you make the shortbread.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It will be powdery, but should hold together when pinched. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture for topping.

Pour remaining shortbread mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using your hand to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Pour cherries over the top, discarding any excess liquid.

For the topping, use your fingers to pinch together small portions of the reserved shortbread mixture. Scatter them over the top of the cherry layer.

Bake bars on the top rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Move bars to the bottom rack and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, until the filling just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled. Tent with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly. Let bars cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature.

Use foil overhang to remove bars to a cutting board. Carefully peel off foil (see post above for my method). Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice into nine squares. Serve.

Leftover Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to four.

Brown Butter Strawberry Shortcakes

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesFather’s Day is coming up! Normally, I would write a sappy post about my dad (he’s a great guy–see here and here), but he’s a little Internet shy. I don’t blame him. So, instead of writing about him and a dessert he would love, I’m going in the opposite direction.

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesMy dad doesn’t care for strawberries, so in order to keep him out of this post, I am bringing you Strawberry Shortcakes. But not just any old strawberry shortcakes–these little guys are made with brown butter. See those gorgeous golden brown biscuits? They’re full of the stuff.

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesSo, how exactly does one make biscuits with brown butter? Well, logically, you start by browning the butter. Place a stick of butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, and then babysit it. No, helicopter parent it. It will melt and bubble and sputter for a few minutes, and you need to be swirling it frequently. Don’t leave the room, don’t check your work emails, don’t strike up a conversation with your roommate. You need to watch that butter. Just when you think it’s not going to do anything beyond splatter your stovetop, the solids in it will turn brown and give off an incredibly rich, nutty aroma. That’s how you’ll know it’s ready. Immediately pour it into a little bowl–don’t let it sit in the pan or it will burn. Burnt butter is not delicious.

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesOnce that brown butter isn’t searing hot anymore, place it in the fridge. Unlike most recipes calling for brown butter, this recipe will not work if the butter is liquid. For our biscuits to be flaky (instead of brown butter-flavored hockey pucks), it needs to solidify and be very cold. This will take a few hours. I recommend browning the butter the night before you want to use it. That way there’s no waiting the next day.

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesMaking brown butter biscuits is a lot like making Buttermilk Biscuits. Whisk together flour, baking powder, a few tablespoons of brown sugar (these are decidedly sweet), and a touch of salt. Use a pastry blender or your fingertips to cut the cold brown butter into the dry ingredients, before stirring in some cold half-and-half. I don’t recommend using milk in this recipe. When the butter browns, its water content evaporates. Using a liquid with a higher fat content helps restore some of that lost moisture.

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesBrown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesTurn the dough onto a floured surface. Pat it out and give it a few folds to ensure flakiness before cutting it into rounds. Pat your leftovers back together and cut them again–you should get about a dozen biscuits. Place them close together on a lined baking sheet, brush them with more half-and-half and sprinkle coarse sugar over the tops. Bake them for 12-14 minutes, just until puffed and golden.

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesWhile the biscuits are baking, fold together a ton of sliced strawberries and a bit of sugar. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and let them sit. This is called macerating—it will allow the berries to release a lot of moisture, creating a delicious strawberry syrup. The longer they sit, the more liquid there will be. The strawberries pictured only sat for half an hour, but you can do this up to a day in advance; just let the berries macerate in the fridge.

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesBrown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesWhen your biscuits are cool and your strawberries are to your liking, whip some cream. Slice the biscuits in half and layer them with the strawberries and whipped cream—there are no hard and fast rules about how much of each, at least as far as I’m concerned. Just pile them up how you like them, and then dig in!

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesY’all, these Brown Butter Strawberry Shortcakes are in. sane. INSANE. Beyond the absolute perfection that is the combination of strawberries and whipped cream, there are the incredible brown butter biscuits. They are lightly sweet, but rich from the brown sugar and the nutty brown butter. Layered with the berries and cream—well, they’re about as wonderful as strawberry shortcake gets. Even my dad might like ‘em.Brown Butter Strawberry Shortcakes

Brown Butter Strawberry Shortcakes
makes 12 servings

Brown Butter:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Brown Butter Biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup brown butter, solid, very cold
2/3-3/4 cup half-and-half, very cold, plus more for brushing
1 tablespoon coarse sugar (like turbinado), for sprinkling

Strawberries:
1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered (about 4-5 cups)
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the brown butter into a small bowl. Let the butter cool to room temperature before refrigerating until solid and very cold, several hours or overnight.

Make the biscuits. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and salt. Add cold brown butter. Use a pastry blender or clean fingertips to cut the butter into the flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Stir in 2/3 cup half-and-half. Add more half-and-half by the tablespoon (up to 2 tablespoons), until no unincorporated bits remain.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Pat it to 1/2-inch thickness. Fold it in half and give it a quarter turn (more details on this process here). Repeat patting and folding until you have done it 3-4 times total. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut biscuits. Pat scraps back together and cut a few more. Place biscuits close together on the prepared pan. Brush them with more half-and-half and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake 12-14 minutes, until puffed and golden. Let biscuits cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature.

While the biscuits are baking, fold strawberries and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for up to an hour. This may also be done a day in advance—just let the strawberries macerate in the refrigerator.

When the biscuits are cool and the strawberries are ready, whip the cream. In a large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, and sugar. Use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to whip cream until soft peaks form.

Assemble shortcakes. Slice biscuits in half. Lay the bottom half of a biscuit on a plate. Top with strawberries and whipped cream. Place the top half of the biscuit over the top. Spoon on more strawberries and whipped cream. Repeat with remaining biscuits. Serve immediately.

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry MuffinsBlueberry Muffins always make me think of summer camp. I went from the time I was in first grade, and after sixteen years (twelve as a camper, four as a counselor/staff), my love of summer camp is just a part of who I am. I finished my last year at camp a mere eight days before I moved to New York–almost ten years ago!–but around this time every year, I still get the urge to pack a trunk and take up residence in a cabin in Granbury, Texas. I know I have many friends who would be happy to join me.

Blueberry MuffinsIt’s different now, but the food at camp was pretty terrible back in my day, save for a few crowd-favorite meals. The highlights of the week were grilled cheese and tomato soup and blueberry muffins. Yes, blueberry muffins were as good as camp breakfast got. I don’t know how exactly it got started, but we had a tradition during those breakfasts where we’d all occasionally chant-yodel “BLUE…BERRY MUFFINS!” I wish I could explain why we all thought it was so funny, but as anyone who has ever gone to camp can tell you, it’s just a camp thing.

Blueberry MuffinsThose summer camp blueberry muffins will always hold a place in my heart, but in all actuality, they weren’t very good–dry with a hard outer crust and gummy blueberries. They worked on those early mornings, but I know I wouldn’t want one now.

Blueberry MuffinsBlueberry MuffinsBlueberry MuffinsThe blueberry muffins I make these days are everything you could possibly want them to be. They’re soft and fluffy with domed tops, and positively bursting with blueberries–there are two whole cups in the recipe! The muffins themselves are flavored with a bit of vanilla and nearly-undetectable dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg. They stay moist for days thanks to buttermilk, a combination of melted butter and oil, and the blueberries, of course! Really, they are everything a blueberry muffin should be.

The only things that could make them better are a swipe of butter and sharing with a camp friend or two. Or sixty.Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins
makes 12 muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
12 ounces fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil (I used canola)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoon coarse sugar (like turbinado), for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Remove 2 tablespoons of the dry ingredients and place in a separate medium mixing bowl. Add fresh blueberries. Toss together with your hands until blueberries are coated in the dry ingredients. This will keep them from sinking in the batter. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg and yolk, vanilla, oil, and melted butter. Add dry ingredients in three installments, scraping down the bowl as you go. Mix just until combined. Fold in blueberries.

Divide batter among muffin cups–they will be almost completely full. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Carefully tap the pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 350F and bake for an additional 14-18 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for at least five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely before serving.

Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.