We spend some time each summer gathering sun ripened berries and stowing them away in the freezer. They’re a delightful reminder of summer during these cold dark winter months. Our freezer is currently stocked full of blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and wild black raspberries. I decided that some blueberries would go perfectly with those lemons I got a while back. I settled on blueberry muffin cake, since it would pair perfectly with our morning coffee on a chilly Sunday morning. I thought this recipe would be fitting during the Real Food Challenge, for those of you looking for a breakfast cereal alternative, or something for an afternoon snack.
I call it a cake because I don’t bake it in muffins tins (I have a strong aversion to all things non-stick). I like baking in a cast iron skillet, so all of my muffins are made in one batch in this cast iron skillet that’s probably twice as old as I am. I find that they bake wonderfully, it takes a little longer, but it’s well worth the extra time. Not to mention there are no muffin tins to fill with batter and then to wash, which is a big plus in my book!
I prefer my breakfast to be a little less sweet so I have developed this recipe to suit our tastes. It’s a lower sugar recipe, so if you’re looking for those sweet as candy muffins you can buy at the local coffee shop, double the sugar in this recipe. You could also sweeten them up with a crumble topping, sprinkled on top before baking or by drizzling them with some lemon juice mixed with powdered sugar after taking them out of the oven.
LEMON BLUEBERRY SKILLET CAKE
2 2/3 cup of flour (I use half white whole wheat flour)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup of sugar (double this for sweeter muffins)
zest and juice from 1 lemon *
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract *
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons of room temperature buttermilk (use regular milk or cream here if desired adjusting for proper wetness of batter)
3/4 cup melted coconut oil, butter,** or cooking oil of your choice (the coconut oil doesn’t impart a “coconut” taste to the muffins, but it seems to add another layer of flavor)
1 1/2 – 2 cups berries (fresh or frozen, allow to thaw a bit if using frozen)
Heat oven to 400. Put cast iron skillet in oven. In large mixing bowl combine: flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Stir to combine.
In another bowl crack eggs and whisk. Add vanilla extract, buttermilk and lemon juice to eggs and stir to combine. Remove cast iron skillet from oven and melt coconut oil in skillet, swirl oil around to coat skillet. **If using butter make sure to oil skillet with shortening or oil, not butter.
Pour wet ingredients (including coconut oil) into dry ingredients and lightly fold until almost combined. When almost combined add berries and stir to incorporate. If batter is too thick add a little more buttermilk or milk. You want this batter to be too thick to pour, but not too thick to smooth into edges of pan.
Spoon batter into cast iron skillet and put in oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean. Baking time will be longer if eggs/milk were not at room temperature and if berries were not slightly thawed. Keep checking every 5 minutes until done. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 5-10 minutes. Slice and enjoy with coffee.
If baking in muffin tins bake for 20 minutes checking after 15.
*Optional flavor combination: cranberry & orange, cranberry & almond, strawberry & lemon, strawberry & vanilla, blackberry & lemon, black raspberry & lemon, or maybe apple cinnamon.
You can use any kind of berry in the muffins. I have used: blackberries, raspberries, blueberries sour cherries, and even cranberries. Strawberries would also be delicious, I think I’ll try those next time. Change the extract or citrus flavor depending on berries used. Cranberries and oranges are a wonderful combination. Almonds compliment cranberries or sour cherries beautifully and lemon pairs perfectly with blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. Strawberries would be heavenly with lots of vanilla. Chunks of apple would be delicious with some freshly ground cinnamon, or even with cranberries. Crystallized ginger compliments just about all the flavors above, I add it to just about everything I make.
So grab some berries from the freezer or some apples from your pantry and let you imagination run wild. Heat up that oven and bake up a batch of sunny muffins. Enjoy the delicious taste of summer in the middle of this cold winter weather.
What’s your favorite kind of muffin?