Berry season is near perfection in the month of June in farm country. One berry arrives and as it is making its exit another appears…like magic, of course. It is the season of iced tea on the front porch, picnics and patio dinners. What better way to celebrate summer than with a sweet buttery muffin filled with freshly made market jam…or your own jam, if you are of a mind.
My newest lemon jam-filled muffins have a special richness and buttery sweetness that comes from the use of buttermilk and corn flour (not corn meal) juxtaposed with bright berry jam. It is, as muffins go, an industrious recipe, requiring a bit of work. But it is delicious served cold from the refrigerator on a hot summer day. So bake these up in the cool of the morning when time is leisurely. When you are ready to serve, they will be ready too!
- One cup all-purpose flour
- One cup cake flour (I suggest King Arthur.)
- One cup corn flour (Bob’s Red Mill makes a great organic corn flour. Corn flour is finer than corn meal—almost comparable to cake flour, so corn meal is not a good substitute.)
- One cup rolled oats
- One teaspoon baking powder
- One tablespoon baking soda
- One teaspoon fine sea salt
- One-half teaspoon ground cardamon
- One cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt
- Three-quarters cup buttermilk (I suggest Kalona as your best commercial option.)
- Zest of one large lemon
- One-quarter cup fresh lemon juice
- One-half cup honey
- One teaspoon vanilla
- One stick unsalted butter, softened
- One cup evaporated cane juice (natural white sugar—note if you have some vanilla sugar use it here—excellent!)
- Two eggs
- Berry jam (Any flavor you love will work; I chose raspberry.)
- Have all ingredients at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, soda, salt and cardamon.
- Process the oats until fine, almost a grainy dust. Add to the flour mixture. Whisk well and set aside.
- In a four-cup measuring cup, whisk the yogurt, buttermilk, lemon zest and juice, honey, and vanilla until completely smooth. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until it is fluffy and pale, about two to three minutes. Scrape the bowl, as necessary, while continuing to beat the butter. Gradually add in the sugar, scraping the bowl and beater as necessary. Continue until the butter and sugar mixture is very light and fluffy.
- With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, beating on medium after each addition. Scrape the bowl and make sure the eggs are well incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
- Continuing with the mixer on very low speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture, in alternation as follows: flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour, remaining buttermilk. For the final addition of flour, remove the bowl from the mixer and incorporate by hand. Your goal is to use as few strokes as possible while making sure all the flour is incorporated. Avoid overbeating so that the gluten does not over develop.
- Prepare two muffin tins, lining with unbleached parchment baking cups. You will not fill all 24 muffin molds, so line one tin and then the first three molds of the second tin—you will get anywhere from 15 to 18 muffins. I got 15 one time and 16 another.
- Fill the first 12 muffin cups halfway with batter. Add one tablespoon of jam to each of these. Cover with enough batter to fill the muffin cups to the top of the paper liner. For the last three, I like to do one complete muffin at a time, so that I don’t end up with “half a muffin.” One batch I made gave me one extra smaller muffin (number 16) unfilled, which was fine and great with a spoonful of honey on the side.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the tins halfway through. These muffins do brown easily, so keep a close eye on the last few minutes and be ready to remove the muffins from the oven before your timer goes off. All ovens are slightly different, so be mindful and present.
- As soon as you can handle the muffins, place on baking racks to cool completely.
Muffin Mastery—technique is key
So these muffins may seem a little fussy, especially on a warm, lazy sunny day. But this technique of having everything at room temperature (especially the butter, buttermilk and eggs), mixing groupings of ingredients up front, alternating dry and wet ingredients, and doing the final mixing by hand are what bakers have been doing for years in order to yield a magically moist, light texture. Be patient and brave!
Looking for more recipes like this? Look up my Lemon Corn Muffins with Mulberries and Sage, or my Fresh Strawberry Oatmeal Cookies, Lemon Pound Cake with Lavender and Coconut, or Cornmeal Buttermilk Layer Cake with Strawberry Frosting. Berry season won’t last forever, so time to get baking!