I'm quite an avid muffin-baker, but this recipe surprised me by calling for cream of tartar, not a typical muffin batter ingredient. As contributing baker Rick Katz says, the muffins achieve their lightness from the homemade baking powder---a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar.
You know what? He's right! These truly are super light and just melt in your mouth. Hot from the oven, they're amazing. A day later, warmed in a toaster oven, they're just as wonderful. Thawed from the freezer? I have no idea. These muffins won't last long enough to find out around here!!
As you can see, my blueberries and blackberries sank to the bottoms of the muffins. They're heavier berries than blueberries, so I expected that. No harm done!
I baked half of the batter in pretty paper cupcake papers, and the other half directly in a well-prepared pan. Why? I was curious which would bake up better, I suppose!
If you're interested in seeing other TWD bakers' results, please check out the blog roll here!
(Please note: the recipe below is as it's written in the cookbook. I substituted blackberries and raspberries, one half pint each, instead of the blueberries. In addition, I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the batter. I couldn't help myself! I'm a vanilla addict. Finally, I did not sift the dry ingredients three times. I mean, come on. Seriously?)
Baking With Julia
1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1 pint fresh blueberries
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter or spray 18 muffin cups or line them with paper baking cups. (These muffins are best made in standard tins in which the cups are 2 1/2 inches in diameter.) If you have 2 muffin tins with 12 cups, fill the 6 cups that will be empty in one of the tins with water----this will help the muffins bake evenly.
Mixing the batter. Sift the cake flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together twice, and leave the sifted dry ingredients in the sifter or strainer; set it on a piece of waxed paper. Remove a tablespoon or two of the dry ingredients and toss with the berries. In a separate bowl, stir the milk and sour cream together and set aside until needed.
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or work with a hand-held mixer), beat the butter on medium speed until white and pale, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture no longer feels grainy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the paddle and the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs and yolk and beat until the mixture is fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift half the dry ingredients into the bowl. Add half the milk and sour cream mixture, and using a large rubber spatula, delicately fold the ingredients together, stopping when barely combined. Add the remaining dry and liquid ingredients and fold in only until just mixed---don't be concerned about getting everything evenly incorporated. Sprinkle over the blueberries and fold them in only to the just-mixed stage.
Baking the muffins. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling each cup at least two-thirds full, and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops, which will be flat, are golden and spring back when lightly pressed. Turn the muffins out onto a cooling rack and allow them to cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Storing. The muffins will stay light and lovely for a day. If you are not going to serve them within a few hours of baking, pack them into a plastic bag; they'll keep for 1 more day and will then best be sliced and toasted. For longer storage, wrap airtight and freeze for up to a month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.