Long-time, no cake. Writing to you about cake, that is. Not saying anything about my consumption of cake. I eat a lot of the stuff.
I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by life of late. Lol, what a start.
There’s something about the beginnings of spring that has this effect I’ve noticed. The moment that cold sun comes out to play and everyone suddenly carries tote bags instead of rucksacks. Makes people feel carefree I think – Just gives me a sore shoulder.
My kitchen window looks over the carpark of a big car sales warehouse. It’s where the people that work at the warehouse like to go, to feel like they aren’t at work. A couple weeks back, when it was cold and snowing, I saw a man, I’d say late 40’s, in his car sales uniform, stretch out his arms and run in figures of 8 around the carpark, pretending to be an aeroplane. That same week, I saw two guys, younger this time, in their uniforms, play a game of one a side football – haha not a thing – with a snowball for a football. It was brilliant.
It was brilliant because they were playing, despite the snow, the cold and the dark. In sun, everyone is out, everyone plays all the time. In sun, the world is oversaturated with moments like the man pretending to be an aeroplane. I find it sets me a bit adrift. It’s like there are too many special moments for me to catch. Like I can’t keep up.
Maybe this makes me sound bloody miserable. I hope not. As it goes, I don’t think I have a lot of misery in me. I really love life, I find a lot of joy in it. But when big change is happening, at first, I feel a bit disconnected from the world. A bit overwhelmed by it. Honestly, a bit frightened of it. Frightened of its oversaturated new-ness. I think maybe you feel this sometimes too?
When this happens, I turn to what I know I can make good – butter, flour, sugar and eggs. I start with a thing I want to make. Next, I decide on the texture I want the thing to have. Then I look at every book I can get my hands on with a recipe for the thing. I compare the recipes, work out what each ingredient does. After that, I bake. And bake again, and then again. Until I have what I’m after. Some people would call this an obsession. Lol that’s exactly what it is, but when I’ve cracked it, when I’ve worked it out, it’s a feeling like none other. I don’t feel quite so overwhelmed by life, because I’ve cracked my perfect muffin and I can give it to people I love.
I believe, Joe, that you’d call this process a version of ‘retaining my soul’. That’s exactly what it is.
I wanted a not too sweet, buttery muffin with a structural integrity that borders on denseness but doesn’t feel like you’re eating a brick. Back up with them dry, dense muffins that would struggle to bounce if you dropped it on a trampoline. Haha. There’s a large quantity of blueberries too, and for a bit of sweet somethin, a thick and crumbly shortbread topping.
Bake these muffins and retain your soul, Joe. You have my fave soul, a soul in a millimuffin.
This will either make 8 large muffins or 14 regular sized muffins. If you only have one 6 or 12-hole muffin tray, like me, you can reserve the leftover batter in the fridge and bake them once your first batch is out.
For the Shortbread Crumble Topping
- 25g sugar
- 40g butter – cubed and a little cold
- 60g plain flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Muffin Batter
- 120g butter
- 250g blueberries
- 340g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 130g caster sugar
- 2 medium eggs – 100g, if you want to weigh it
- 250g sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 scant tablespoons milk
Pre-heat the oven to 180 / 160 fan. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases, or with butter and strips of greaseproof paper.
Make the shortbread topping by rubbing all the ingredients together between your fingertips. The mixture will come together in clumps. Once done put in the fridge or freezer while you make the muffin batter.
Melt the butter in the microwave and set aside to cool.
Squash about a third of the blueberries with the back of a folk, you don’t want to turn them into a pulp, just burst them a bit. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and sugar.
In another bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract, milk and melted butter.
Add the wet mix to the dry, followed the by the squashed and not squashed blueberries. Fold to combine, careful not to overmix – about 15 folds of a spatula will do it. There might be a few small dry patches of flour, that’s ok! Better that than an overworked batter.
Distribute the batter between the muffin tins and top each with shortbread crumble until all used up. Bake for 24 mins (or 29 mins if making 8 large muffins), or until very lightly golden and a knife inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out with a few moist crumbs.
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