Early in 2011, I was in the final round of interviewing for my now-job as Technical Writer in the Information Technology Services department at Humboldt State. In a moment of insanity, I promised that “if you hire me, I will make muffins.” And thus was a new tradition born.
Every Monday (or Tuesday when the Monday’s a holiday), I bake a dozen muffins and bring them into the office. And every week, there’s a guessing game as to what the flavor of the week is. I have been known to come up with some interesting (some may say esoteric) combinations over the years, drawing inspiration as I frequently do from what looks good in the garden. The last few weeks have produced a couple of first-time favorites – strawberry-tree berries and fuchsia berries – that are both producing plentifully in the garden right now, as well as the ever-popular raspberries that are just starting to be ready.
Strawberry-tree berries are packed with vitamin C, but they don’t have a lot of flavor of their own, so I like to bump them up a notch with some nutmeg or cardamom. Raspberries play nicely with lemon or ginger. Fuchsia berries are deliciously sweet and pair nicely with roasted hazelnuts (as, incidentally, do elderberries). They’re growing right outside my back door, so I’m forever popping a handful in my mouth. Incidentally, they also produce a really blue juice – unlike the purple you might expect from a berry that looks like this:
I’ve reproduced my go-to muffin mix recipe below – this amount will make several batches of muffins (depending on the size of your muffins and the volume of additional ingredients you add) and keeps well in the fridge. I’ve also included a sample recipe for 12 standard-size muffins. To create your own muffins, just add fruit, nuts, spices, honey – whatever you fancy! Experimenting with different flavor combinations is a lot of fun, so why not create your own Muffin Monday tradition?
BTW, I‘ll never know whether the muffin offer was the tie-breaker that got me the job, but now even President Lisa Rossbacher has been inducted into the Muffin Monday fan clubJ
- 5 cups whole-wheat flour (I use Beck’s local flour – available at the farmers’ market or the Co-op)
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2 ¼ cups brown sugar
- 2T baking powder
- 1t baking soda
- 1.5t salt
Mix everything together in a big bowl and store in a sealed container in the fridge.
Fuchsia Berry & Hazelnut Muffins
Makes 12 standard-size muffins
- 2 large eggs (I use duck eggs)
- ¾ cup well-shaken buttermilk
- ½ cup safflower or other high-quality, high-temperature oil plus 1t for oiling the muffin tin
- 1 vanilla pod (you can substitute 1t vanilla essence but I think the seeds add an extra punch)
- 3 cups muffin mix (see above)
- 1 cup fresh-picked fuchsia berries
- 1 cup roasted and skinned hazelnuts, chopped
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly brush the muffin tin(s) with oil
- In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs and mix in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla
- Fold in the muffin mix, berries, and hazelnuts with a fork until all the flour is incorporated
- Spoon the finished mix into the muffin tin(s) – about two tablespoons per cup
- Bake for 7 minutes, then rotate the tin(s) and bake for another 7
Let the finished muffins rest for 10 minutes or so after they come out of the oven, then gently run a knife around each to ensure it will come out clean. Place the individual muffins on a rack to cool.
They’ll stay pretty fresh in an airtight container on the counter for 3-4 days, or you can freeze them for up to 3 months.
I’d love to hear other flavor combinations people have made and enjoy – if you come up with something you really like, share it in the Comments below.