August 28, 2013
I have an August fruit problem. It seems that no matter how much I buy, I can never get around to whipping up all of the things I plan on making. Instead, we just eat it all fresh. I think, “I’ll just buy double,” and then we eat double the amount of fresh fruit. And forget it when I’m dealing with fruit that we’ve picked ourselves! There’s no amount that we can harvest that will keep us from eating every piece just as it came off of the tree or bush. It’s just too good.
These Blueberry Crumb Muffins are different, though. They were an unexpected exception. Because as good as freshly picked fruit is, it turns out that using your freshly picked fruit to cook something with your child—engaging them in the entire experience, from farm to table—is even better.
We recently visited a u-pick farm that offered a choice between picking blueberries and peaches. In true fashion, the boys yelled out opposing choices at once.
Sometimes it’s best to split up.
The—ahem—hungry baby and I headed towards the blueberries and got to work. Though he was initially put off by the bugs (still bug shy after a mean wasp attack), we eventually found a groove.
Our haul was pretty significant since, in an impressive show of self-awareness (if I do say so myself), I wanted to make sure that we had plenty of berries to eat them fresh and also throw into pancakes, an upside down cake, and—the piece de resistance—blueberry cinnamon rolls with lemon glaze. Though plenty of fresh blueberries were enjoyed, no pancakes, cakes, or rolls were made. But, this time, it wasn’t because we’d eaten all of the fresh berries before I could get to cooking.
For once, we had picked enough berries—and I had doled them out carefully enough—so that I could experiment with blueberry recipes. But, when the clock struck kitchen time, the hungry baby wanted to play a part in cooking the fruits of our labor. Given his field efforts, I could hardly deny him.
I tried getting him excited about cake (we’ll turn it over and there will be SO MANY blueberries covering the whole top or, er, bottom!). No luck. Then I tried selling him on pancakes. He wasn’t buying. He had one thing on his mind, and one thing only: muffins. At risk of sounding like a horrible mom (more points for self awareness?), I have to admit that I almost said no. Blueberry muffins did not sound exciting for me or, honestly, for you. Then it dawned on me that saying no to muffins was saying no to showing him the connections between the farm and our table.
It’s one thing to pick fruit with your child, and another for him to enjoy that fruit fresh just as nature intended. These are both super powerful, but they aren’t the full picture. In all of our summers of gobbling fresh, summer ripe fruit and me making the point, “See, it’s as sweet as candy with nothing on it!” I had failed to pull my kids into the kitchen to show them how to take ingredients from the ground to the table.
So muffins we made. And, in doing so, both the hungry baby and I deepened our relationship with and understanding of food, which pretty much makes these the best muffins ever, even though we used up some of our perfect, fresh blueberries.
Blueberry Crumb Muffins
Makes 1 dozen full-size muffins
(Can be shared with kids 10+ mos)*
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, divided
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries, washed
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1. Preheat oven 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or silicone muffin cups and set aside.
2. In a small pot or in the microwave, melt 4 tablespoons of butter (leaving remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in the refrigerator until you make the crumb topping). Set melted butter aside to cool.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt; set aside.
3. Combine cooled, melted butter, egg and milk. Gently add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Gently fold blueberries into the batter.
4. To make the crumb topping, remove remaining 4 tablespoons of butter from the refrigerator and cut into small pieces. Add the butter to a bowl with remaining 1/2 cup of flour and brown sugar. Work the ingredients with your hands until large crumbs form.
5. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 of the way. Spread crumb topping evenly over all 12 muffins. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Take muffins out of the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from the pan and allow them to finish cooling on a rack.
*Note: While there is nothing in these muffins that is unsafe for younger eaters, I recommend them starting at 10+ months due to the relatively high sugar content. No matter what age your eaters, be sure to serve age appropriate portions. Even just a 1/2 muffin goes a long way with wee ones.