Friday, November 4, 2011

Strawberry Topped Lemon Cake-Muffins

Let's play a game. Say there is an ingredient sitting in your refrigerator that needs to be used up or it will be tossed upon the mountain of guiltily-thrown-away-food that lingers in your conscience. For this round of the game let's say the ingredient is buttermilk. You look through your saved-to-make blog posts and put a few aside, but none of them really get you jazzed. So then you use your favorite search engine, Food Blog Search and that pulls up some interesting cakes and biscuits and even a few brunch bread items, but they still don't stick. Then you notice that it is Sunday night and there is no bread in the house for your morning toast, no yogurt to go with your granola and the half and half will barely get you through your morning coffee let alone serve as milk for some granola. Muffins! That's the ticket! Use up that buttermilk and make some yummy muffins.

Finding Smitten Kitchen's brilliant new muffin recipe made it all sound too perfect. At last, the pieces were falling into place. But then you realize that your hand-held beater is still missing the piece that keeps the beaters in place and you have only one lemon. So McGyver it Miss Cook!

And that should be the name of this game. Did it turn out? Mostly, but what Deb of Smitten Kitchen didn't quite communicate is this is such a fabulous muffin because it's really cake disguised as a muffin. Cream 1 cup of sugar and 1 stick of butter? Sounds like the making of a cake to me! But it certainly is delicious! Of course, most muffin recipes are pretty high on the calorie scale, but just know that I warned you!

Truth in advertising, since I used a food processor to cream the sugar and butter, it created a heavier batter, producing only 9 large muffins as a opposed to the 14 that Deb's method created.  Also, without the requisite lemons for making zest, I substituted 1/2 of a preserved lemon and added an additional teaspoon of sugar to compensate for the salty lemon. It worked like a charm, so I am including my recipe with Deb's method.

Strawberry Topped Lemon Cake-Muffins (inspired by Smitten Kitchen)
(makes 9 muffins)
1 cup sugar, plus 1/8 of a cup and 1 teaspoon, divided
1/2 preserved lemon, rinsed, pulp removed, and minced
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 frozen strawberries
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 14 standard muffin cups (or 56 minis) with paper liners or grease with butter. Mash 1/8 cup and 1 teaspoon sugar with preserved lemon until it is a well blended paste. Whisk flour and baking powder in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat remaining 1 cup sugar and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg. Beat in buttermilk, then vanilla and lemon sugar. Beat in flour mixture. Divide batter among muffin cups. In a food processor, blend frozen strawberries with balsamic vinegar. Make an indentation in the top of each muffin and spoon in 1 tablespoon of strawberry mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes and then carefully pop out muffins. Best chilled.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Irish Blue Cheese and Tomato Soup at Soup Chick
Brown Sugar Rosemary Walnuts at 101 Cookbooks
Fried Green Tomatoes with Sweet Corn Salsa at More Than Burnt Toast

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