Although one might not think of muffins when one thinks of Italian baked goods, I was quite surprised last year when we were in Umbria to see real muffins popping up in our local grocery stores. Italians generally eat very little at breakfast, preferring to eat just a pastry (often a brioche) along with their morning coffee so the idea of muffins in Italy really isn’t that far fetched. I often make muffins for our farmhouse guests in Umbria to enjoy at breakfast and use this recipe often.
We spend some of our winter in Florida each year, and while there we have fallen in love with Florida strawberries from Plant City. These luscious berries just seem to have so much more strawberry goodness than any other strawberry I’ve ever tasted that the flavor explodes in your mouth after each juicy bite. When Plant City strawberries are finally in season I buy them weekly, often twice a week in fact, because the local strawberry season here always seems far too short. In the height of strawberry season, I always seem to have so many strawberries on hand that I am always looking for new recipes that include these sweet berries as they are best enjoyed at their peak of ripeness and must be used soon after purchase.
These tasty muffins are a perfect example of one of my favorite ways to use up my berries when I have bought more than I planned for. Although I used both strawberries and orange zest as my flavor base for these muffins, you could also substitute blueberries for the strawberries and use lemon in place of the orange zest. I have also used diced apples and cinnamon as well which are delicious with a streusel topping. These muffins take just minutes to put together and are always light and moist. Just be careful when mixing the flour into the moist ingredients not to over mix to ensure the muffins stay nice and light in texture. I like to add a little sugar on top of the muffins before baking although they are also delicious with a streusel topping as I mentioned above.
Deborah Mele 2011
- 1/2 Cup Melted, Cooled Butter (1 Stick)
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1 Cup Buttermilk
- 1/2 Teaspoon Orange Extract
- Zest From 1 Medium Orange
- 4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- Pinch Of Salt
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 3 Cups All-purpose Flour
- 1 Pint Fresh, Ripe Strawberries, Trimmed & Diced
- 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Orange Zest
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Either spray a 12 cup muffin tin with vegetable spray, or line with paper liners.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, orange extract, baking powder, salt, and sugar until well blended.
- Add the butter and whisk until smooth and light.
- Add the flour and use a wooden spoon and stir just until the flour is incorporated into the other ingredients.
- Add the diced berries, and stir to mix into the batter.
- Use a large spoon and fill the muffin cups 3/4 full.
- Mix together the sugar and orange zest for topping, rubbing the zest into the sugar with your fingers.
- Sprinkle the sugar topping evenly over each muffin cup, and then bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. (a cake tester should come out clean when inserted into a center muffin.
- Cool to room temperature before serving.