Blueberry muffins remind me of mom. In fact, making these muffins about brought me to tears. Before my mom died, I started collecting all of my favorite recipes of hers. It was as if we somehow knew the inevitable was coming. Some of them I wrote down onto white index cards. Others I learned by making while she told me what to do. While I collected a ton of treasured recipes, we didn’t talk about blueberry muffins. The muffins she would make that were so full of blueberries, they were more like bits of buttery bread holding juicy berries together. I remember the pastel muffin papers and how they would stain with the juices of the blueberries as they burst from the oven’s heat.
For years, I thought I’d never again be able to taste my mom’s blueberry muffins. That changed last week. I looked over at the shelf that now holds a tattered, coverless Betty Crocker cookbook of my mom’s. My sister gave it to me as she packed to move. The cookbook caught my eye and it hit me! I bet the muffin recipe she followed is in that book!
Sure enough, the pages that held the blueberry recipe I missed so much was tattered and stained. My mom had clearly had the cookbook open to this page more than once. In my nostalgic baking frenzy, I mixed the batter by hand and it wasn’t until the moment I was putting the pan of muffins into the oven that I realized what I had done. “Crap! I forgot to add sugar!” I contemplated for a second how I might correct my mistake. I wanted these muffins to turn out so bad! I thought better of it and put them in the oven. I’d cook them as is and make another batch later. When I ate the first, warm muffin though, I was delighted – light, buttery and full of blueberries more than batter, just like mom’s! I didn’t even miss the sugar!
The next day, I served them warm for breakfast, drizzled with a little homemade basil syrup and they were off the charts! My no-sugar mistake became the most happy accident. I don’t think I’ll be making these muffins with sugar in the future.
No-Sugar Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from Betty Crocker
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup milk (I used a high quality, organic powdered milk I had on hand)
1/4 cup oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries (or well-drained and thawed frozen blueberries)
(1/4 cup sugar – should you choose to make the muffins the original way)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin with papers or grease the bottoms.
Mix together the egg, milk and oil in a medium-size mixing bowl. Gently fold in the remaining dry ingredients just until the flour is moistened. The batter will be a little lumpy. Gently fold in the blueberries, being careful not to overmix.
Fill the muffin cups generously (at least 2/3 full). Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes 1 dozen.
Slightly adapted from Tamara Murphy’s Tender
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (packed)
Bring the sugar and water to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Turn the heat down to low, add the basil leaves and simmer for about 20 minutes. Make sure the leaves are submerged. Strain the leaves out of the syrup and enjoy.