Simply Raspberry Muffins

July  4, 2011
Author Notes

There are only two places from which I've had muffins I like (apologies to everyone out there who is a muffin fanatic, I don't know if I'm picky, or what. I'm just more of a scone girl). Muffins from some unknown bakery that one of my old bosses lived next to and muffins from Joanne Chang's Flour bakery. Her's are everything a muffin should be, so light, tender and crumbly, they just barely hold together, but with a shiny, sturdy, almost crisp top. Sweet, but not too sweet, and packed with lots of fruit.
So, when I was at Flour a while back, and flipping through her new(ish) cookbook while waiting for my lunch, I decided to check out her muffin recipe. I was immediately struck by how vehement she was that everything needs to be room temperature. Hmmm. Maybe, just maybe that actually mattered. It does! As much as having extremely cold ingredients matters for making shortcrust or biscuits. It has revolutionized my muffin baking!
So, here are some simple raspberry muffins, based somewhat off of Joanne Chang's recipe, particularly the use of creme fraiche, (if I had a photographic memory or owned the book, I would probably just use hers since they are so good, but alas, it is not the case) and my experience with a number of other muffin attempts including those from The Best Recipes, which are quite tasty as well.
No streusal, no extra flavorings (except for some requisite vanilla, oh and I browned the butter because, why not? And it adds a little voluptuousness), just lots of raspberries. Yum! My favorite berry. Of course, if you wanted to, you could also replace half of the raspberries with chopped peaches. That would also be delicious. Nor would I try to stop you if you wanted to add some lemon zest. But really, I don't think you can go wrong if you're just all about the raspberries. - fiveandspice —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

These could easily be named "Simply the Best Raspberry Muffins." The tender, cakey base isn't overly sweet, not even distantly related to the leaden hockey pucks that often masquerade as muffins. Fiveandspice adds a few genius touches: brown butter flecks the batter and perfumes the muffins with its nutty flavor, and the combination of creme fraiche and buttermilk add a lovely, tart dimension that's echoed by the fresh raspberries. There's also a generous dose of sea salt, which means your tongue hits lovely little bursts of saltiness every now and again. Note: these muffins are divine just out the oven. - A&M —The Editors

  • Makes 10-12 muffins (depending on your tin filling tendencies)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk AT ROOM TEMP
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche AT ROOM TEMP
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten, AT ROOM TEMP
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten, AT ROOM TEMP
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (you could also use frozen - don't defrost if you do)
In This Recipe
  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, and cook over medium heat, stirring nearly constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan as you go, until the butter turns brown and smells nutty. Mine took about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature or slightly warmer.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350F and grease (or line with muffin cups) a muffin tin.
  3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the the sugar, buttermilk, and creme fraiche until totally combined. Whisk in the egg and egg yolk until smooth. Finally, whisk in the browned butter and vanilla.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and start to gently fold it together. When it is still quite lumpy and not fully combined, stir in the raspberries. Continue to stir gently just until you see no more dry patches. Don't overmix!
  6. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, filling each well about 3/4s of the way full.
  7. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a tester inserted in the center of one comes out clean. Let cool for just a minute or two, and then turn them out of the pan quickly (otherwise the bottoms steam) and cool on a cooling rack. Or eat them warm, with plenty of butter, because that is really what one ought to do with fresh muffins.
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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.