I’ve switched obsessions; raspberry is my thing this week, it seems. Call it a mixed berry slump; I feel like I haven’t had decent berries around in forever, and I miss them. Summer berries are my favorite, and although you can find berries in the store right now, they leave a lot to be desired. Thankfully, frozen raspberries are a great substitute, especially when you feel a deep urge to swirl some through ice cream (which you’ll see later this week) or bake them into muffins.
These muffins are my first crack at my new Bouchon Bakery cookbook. My dear friend Jen at Juanita’s Cocina sent this to me as a surprise Christmas gift, and it threw me completely off guard. I’ve finally worked up the nerve to make something from it. Why was I petrified? I practically worship Thomas Keller. He’s a baking genius. And the book is so entirely lovely that I just didn’t want to mangle any of his perfect recipes.
My recipe for these muffins is based on his blueberry muffins from the book. He’s got a unique technique on muffin-making, and I wanted to try it out because I like the idea behind it: he likes to let his muffin batter “rest” overnight in the fridge so the dry ingredients can hydrate. Normally with muffins and quick breads, instructions read “pour immediately into prepared pan” – a rest period is never mentioned. Makes sense, though, just like resting anything; flavors mingle, liquid blends with dry, beautiful baked goods are produced. Admittedly, it was difficult to wait for muffins. However…
Result: Holy goodness. Unless i’m pressed for time, I’m absolutely trying this with every single muffin recipe I have. Why? They’re so, so tender. And dense. And at the same time, fluffy light. I suspect if those big, impossibly poofy cumulus clouds had a flavor (and floating raspberries), they would taste like this. They’re just superior muffins; no dry crumb, no crusty outside and gooey inside, just a perfectly flavored, incredibly soft cloud of a baked good. I’ve never made muffins this good. Ever. The resting period does something magical to the batter; of this I am sure.
It also gave me a chance to work on my “parchment paper as muffin cup” skills. The batter is thick, which let me mess with how best to fill the parchment and get it into the muffin cups without incident. Turns out, all you need is a batter like this, some 5 x 5 squares of parchment paper, and a good ice cream scoop and you’ve got yourself some bakery-looking muffins. The parchment also gives the muffins a little space by suspending them between the muffin pan and the batter, which made them cook more evenly. I tested a few in regular muffin cups, and my parchment muffins were more evenly baked, top to bottom.
This book is probably not for the impatient. If you have the book, you know what I mean. Thomas Keller really cares for his ingredients and his product. He seems to have the patience of a Trappist monk when it comes to baking. Everything is carefully planned and exactly laid out, there are copious amounts of prep, and resting, and it’s pretty steppy. None of this bothered me, save for one thing: the ingredient measurements.
Admittedly, I’m not the most patient person in the world. I will do as I’m told when you ask me to add 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of flour to something. But I begin to roll my eyes when I need to measure out 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda: why not just 1/2 teaspoon? I lost it a little when I saw that the egg quantity wasn’t listed, but rather the cup size: “1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons eggs.”
No, Thomas Keller. I will not do that. If any of you think I’m a sissy, go break yourself an egg, fork-swirl it together, and the you try to measure out slippery, gelatinous eggs with a teaspoon. Get back to me on how it went. Messy? Impossible? Right. Moving on.
I would imagine that to maintain the integrity of his gorgeous bakery’s recipes, they cut them down from commercial-size to personal size, but I just can’t teaspoon out eggs, and I don’t think you should have to either. I’ve adjusted the recipe to try to both maintain the perfection of the original and make it a bit less of a hassle for those of us who just want some awesome muffins, already. I expect a call from Mr. Keller telling me I’m hired just so he can fire me; I hope he would understand that I worked very hard to respect his muffins when I made my adjustments.
So here you are: hassle free, amazingly soft and fluffy raspberry buttermilk lemon muffins. There are still steps, yes, but please do take them, and take care while doing them. I promise your time and efforts will be rewarded.
Adapted from a recipe for blueberry muffins found in the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel.
Raspberry Lemon Buttermilk Muffins
for the batter:
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons good-quality honey
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup buttermilk + 2 tablespoons (reserved for post-batter rest)
for the raspberry swirl:
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups frozen raspberries
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Note: I promise you that this whole resting the batter thing is miraculous. Please do it. Also, I realize after your long wait for the batter, that you may want to rush through the rest of it. Do not do this. Why? Because every single stir counts when it comes to raspberries in a semi-liquid. Fold them in gently, slowly, and with purpose; make every fold count. You want to get your raspberries evenly distributed, but you don’t want solid pink muffins. A little streaking is perfectly fine; I think it’s pretty like that, and there will be streaking. Just know that going in so you don’t overdo your stirring, because there’s no fixing it.
In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, Beat your butter on medium speed until soft and whipped, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of your bowl. Slowly add the sugar with the mixer on low speed. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Add the lemon juice, zest, and honey and beat again for another minute or so on medium-high speed until everything is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl (yes, do it) again.
Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture in two parts, alternating with half the buttermilk (and ending with the remaining buttermilk), mixing each addition on low speed for about 15 seconds to combine. Scrape down the bowl again, paying special attention to the bottom, as dry ingredients tend to linger there. Beat on low a few seconds more if you find any loose ingredients.
Scrape your batter into a bowl large enough to accommodate it, and seal it tightly; I find my rubber-lidded casserole dishes work well for this. Place in the refrigerator overnight, or for up to 36 hours.
Walk away from the fridge.
When you’re ready to bake your muffins, preheat your oven to 425˚F and either line a muffin pan with paper cups OR try the fancy parchment method, in italics throughout:
Fancy Parchment Method: Take a length of parchment paper at least 20 inches in length (mine is already 15 inches in width: hopefully this is a fairly standard, well…standard). Cut into 5 x 5 inch squares, which should give you 12 squares.
Remove batter from fridge and set on a countertop for 5 minutes to take some of the chill off. Remove your raspberries from the freezer and toss them in a small bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon flour, making sure to coat them evenly. Place them back in the freezer like this until you’re ready to use.
Stir the remaining 2 tablespoons buttermilk into the batter with a rubber spatula, going slowly and using broad strokes to distribute and incorporate the liquid to the cold batter. You’ll see the batter begin to soften and smooth out, making it easier to fold in your raspberries.
Grab your flour-coated raspberries from the freezer and pour evenly over your batter bowl. Using slow, deliberate strokes, fold your raspberries into the batter firmly. I like to take my spatula and work along the perimeter of the bowl, folding up, over, and towards the middle, pressing gently but firmly down to get the raspberries distributed. Repeat this, turning your bowl slightly with each fold, until your raspberries have been evenly incorporated (and watch those streaks!)
Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop, scoop out level servings of the batter into the cups.
For the fancy parchment cups, it’s best to hold a square of the parchment in your palm. Place the scoop of batter directly in the center, then transfer the parchment square to the muffin tin. The weight of the batter will help sink the parchment down into the cup. Use your fingers to flatten out the creases as much as you can (see photos above for how mine turned out.)
Place your muffin pan in the oven, reduce the temperature to 325˚F, and bake for about 35 minutes, checking at the 30-minute mark for doneness. Your muffin bake time will depend on your choice of muffin wrapper: my parchment ones took a few minutes longer than the one in the regular paper muffin cup, and my one in the foil muffin cup took even less time; it was done at 30 minutes. Remember; don’t open your oven every five minutes, but do watch them towards the end of their baking journey, and do not overbake. Test with a wooden skewer in the center for doneness.
Let cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly; berries will scorch you when right out of the oven. If you did the fancy parchment method, transferring these simply involves picking up their tidy little points and lifting them.
Makes 12 standard-size muffins.