Strawberries and Cream Muffins:  "I do beseech you . . ."

Strawberries and Cream Muffins: "I do beseech you . . ."

". . . I saw good strawberries in your garden there;

I do beseech you send for some of them."

Ingredients

  • -- William Shakespeare, from Richard III, act 3, scene 4.
  • What, pray tell, is more appealing than a fresh, warm muffin that's been dotted, within and on top, with bright crimson strawberries? Exceptionally good strawberries, if you can ferret them out this time of year, are such a rarity.
  • So when I spotted some particularly promising berries recently that were actually on sale(!), I wasted no time in nabbing a container. Strawberry muffins, you see, had been on my mind.
  • In my retail baking class last week, one of my tasks had been to make several dozen petite strawberry muffins, which were slated to accompany a fabulous main-dish salad that the garde manger class was preparing at the same time. (The garde manger class makes a huge variety of beautiful cold dishes, comprised largely of veggies and fruits--really fantastic stuff.)
  • Those little muffins were pretty cute, and I was pleased with how they turned out. Their batter, though, was boringly one-size-fits-all, so I decided to devise a brand new strawberry muffin recipe to try out at home--something more interesting--and that's what we have here today. I was absolutely delighted with how these turned out, and my kids LOVED them.
  • The case of the disappearing strawberries . . .
  • Have you ever noticed how strawberries have a way of simply melting away in baked goods, sometimes leaving nothing but a little pocket of pinkish moisture that leaves you wondering what might have been there to begin with? Sadly, the gorgeous little chunks can be completely diminished by heat. This recipe, though, makes an effort to get around that problem, at least partially.
  • In coming up with this recipe, I borrowed a couple of hints from my baking teacher, Chef Chris. He doesn't always mix berries right into muffin batter; he layers them into the batter in the muffin cups. That's one tactic I adopted here, and it helps alleviate, though doesn't completely eliminate, the problem of disappearing strawberries.
  • No, it's not a cheesecake . . .
  • A special component of these muffins is the addition of a very small amount of a sweet cream-cheesy mixture, which I layered in over the first sprinkling of berry pieces. It just barely evokes the flavor of cheesecake, and it's subtle enough so that it doesn't make the muffins too rich, nor does it make you feel like you're eating something that belongs on a dessert cart. It also doesn't firm up into a thickened streak within the muffin, but melds nicely into the batter itself, augmenting the moistness of the muffin's soft interior.
  • Does Size Really Matter?
  • You can make them regular size or, if you're into jumbo muffins, go for it and make them huge. You'll get about 6 giants out of this recipe, or 14 regulars. I had enough leftover batter, after I'd filled my pan of 12, to make one giant muffin. (See the picture below? That baby's gigantic! I stuffed it with extra berries and filled the jumbo muffin cup to capacity. Whoa! If you make them enormous, though, remember that they'll need to bake way longer.)
  • Any size they are, I think you'll like these. No, let me amend that. I think you'll love these.
  • Strawberries & Cream Muffins
  • (For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)
  • Makes about 12 to 14 regular size muffins, or about 6 jumbo muffins.
Read the whole recipe on Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal