Baking with the Dixie Chicks: “The Heartache’s on Me” Strawberry Muffins

Instead of the banana blondie post I promised (which will happen at some point, I promise), something a little different. Last Friday, I had the opportunity to buy two pounds of fresh strawberries for two euros. I’d be a fool to pass that up, but I quickly realized that I’d have to either eat a lot of strawberries or drink a lot of smoothies to get through them all before they went bad. You see, by Saturday they had already ripened to perfection. So I quickly went off to Google to find something I could use them in without breaking the bank buying supplies, and there it was, the very first hit: a highly rated strawberry muffin recipe.

I have to say admit that I’d never had a strawberry muffin in my life before last weekend, or even any other baked good than strawberry pie, but that didn’t deter me. Quite uncharacteristically, the reviews of this recipe were actually helpful, in that they weren’t all of the “I made the following alterations and it turned out terrible, which is clearly the recipe’s fault and not at all my own” variety. I decided to heed some of the reviewers’ warnings and hurried into my kitchen, where I traded the Take That Greatest Hits album which had been occupying my radio ever since I went to their concert in Amsterdam for Wide Open Spaces.

“The Heartache’s on Me” Strawberry Muffins – preparation time 20 minutes (adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup apple sauce
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • cinnamon
  • 1/3-1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups strawberries
  • Some extra brown and white sugar and cinnamon

To make these, preheat your oven to 375F/190C and oil or line a 12-cup muffin tin. Then cut up your strawberries (if you’re using frozen ones, which is fine, let them thaw ever so slightly before cutting). I sliced most of them into thin slices and then did a few into smaller pieces, almost julienne, so they would blend into the batter. If your strawberries aren’t quite ripe, or you have a sweet tooth, you might want to sprinkle some sugar over your cut strawberries, stir, and let sit for 10 minutes.

In one bowl, combine the apple sauce, milk, egg, and lemon zest. You need only add a little lemon, just for fragrance, because the strawberries will lend enough tartness to the muffins. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugars, cinnamon and salt. The brown sugar helps with the color of the batter and makes the flavor a little less basic. Add the strawberries to the flour bowl and stir until they’re coated. If you stir too hard you’ll break up all your strawberries, especially if they’re really ripe, so be careful there. Then add the milk mixture and stir until just combined (it’s okay if your batter’s a little lumpy). Pour the batter into your (lined) pan and if you wish you can top off your muffins with some strawberry slices and a sprinkling of brown/white cinnamon sugar (equal parts brown and white sugar with a good dash of cinnamon stirred until combined). As I was slicing some more strawberries for this, “Tonight the Heartache’s on Me” started playing on my radio and I decided it’d be great if I could make some broken-heart muffins. So I halved some of my slices (jagged edges and all) and popped them on with my steadiest hand, which isn’t very steady. Though they looked like little cracked hearts before they went into the oven, the effect wasn’t quite the same after baking.

Ah well, such is life, right?

Moving on, pop your muffins in the oven for 25-30 minutes, leave them to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, then take them out. And voilá, you’ve got yourself a tasty breakfast and/or (afternoon) snack! They’re simple, not fancy, but they taste wonderfully of summer and sunshine.

(I guess now is the time to admit one issue I ran into so you don’t make the same mistake: despite my muffins being cooked through ““ the skewer came out clean and everything ““ the bottoms stuck to the liners. I think this may have something to do with having substituted apple sauce for oil, though I’m not sure that’s how it works. Next time I might try just oiling the pan and not using liners or spraying some cooking spray on the bottoms on the liners.)

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Nanna Freeman

Anglo-America-loving Dutchie with a grad student twist and a mad dash of self-mockery. Sometimes I also write things here: http://notyournanswriting.wordpress.com/

7 thoughts on “Baking with the Dixie Chicks: “The Heartache’s on Me” Strawberry Muffins”

  1. Please excuse a semi-off-topic post, but I’m relatively new to baking.

    How important is the type of milk to any given baking recipe? I normally don’t have any luck with custard dishes, but a recipe I recently used specified 2% and it worked out really well. Normally, I have 1% or skim in the house and the custard wouldn’t set properly. Do I need to bake with whole milk unless otherwise specified?

    Thanks!

    1. Hello! I’m a bit of a baker (not pro), and so I thought I’d slip in some unsolicited answers.

      Okay, so first off: milk, generally, is used more for fat and/or liquid content than for flavor. The amount of milk is designed, in a good recipe, to help the baked good achieve the correct texture in both the batter and the finished product.

      Many bakers specify whole milk because that gives you the most fat (and therefore the most richness) for the same amount of liquid added to your batter. Because you generally don’t want to add more liquid to the batter than necessary (for most things, i.e. muffins, cookies, etc.), whole milk is an easy way to keep that rich, full-fat feeling without making your batter too wet.

      Now, that being said, the difference is not going to be “this is awesome” vs. “this is terrible.” Whole milk makes things feel a little bit richer, for people who notice that (i.e. not me, who is busy inhaling without tasting most of the time) sensation; lighter milks give a lighter feel in the mouth, again, for people who notice. You will not “ruin” or “break” a recipe by not using the specified milk (I can’t guarantee that about custards, where the milk really is the star rather than an ingredient per se).

      Short answer: use whatever milk you have handy; it won’t ruin or hurt anything. Whole milk is a shortcut to a rich feel; lighter milks can marginally lighten your rich batters.

      I hope this helps!

      – HD

      1. Hooray for HD! Thank you! I felt it would be something like this, but I wasn’t quite certain. Hope that answered your question, Kimberley. FYI, I used 1% (I think… The names aren’t quite the same in Dutch, but I think it’s closest) for these muffins and they turned out well.

    2. Oh! And with custards, generally, it’s a fat issue again: the fat helps stabilize the custard, which is probably why your low-fat version didn’t set quite right. “Light” recipes for custards using lower-fat milk exist; they’ll often substitute other things to help offset the loss of stabilizing fat (I have see recipes that use cornstarch or other powder stabilizers, for example).

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