I absolutely love this time of year when the garden begins to release its harvest and the farmers markets are full of all sorts of fruits and vegetables. Since we don’t have any sort of perennial fruits in our garden, we rely on the neighboring farms and orchards for our sweet fix throughout the summer. I was very excited when it came to be blueberry picking time, since we had been accumulating zucchini and I wanted to try out a recipe that I came up with last year: Blueberry-Zucchini Muffins. Over the last couple of weeks I made three different batches, and am fairly happy with the current version of it. There are some experiments that I am still hoping to try, but here is the current version.
The recipe is at the bottom of the page, but I thought I would share some tips that work well for making muffins in general, and for this recipe in particular.
One of the things I hate the most: muffins getting stuck in muffin tins, or worse, when the muffins are actually stuck to the muffin tin liners! I am not a fan of the liners to begin with – having half of your muffin being baked into a piece of paper is really disappointing. I stumbled upon a solution last year that has worked amazingly well for me ever since. Cut parchment paper in little circles and place them at the bottom of your greased muffin tins. The muffins come out cleanly and without much of a struggle.
Another important tip for making sure your muffins come out of the tins cleanly: Take the muffins out of the tins 5 minutes after coming out of the oven. Especially for these muffins with the crumble topping that tends to spread over the tops of the muffins, it is really important to loosen up that crumble while it is warm before it hardens and really sticks to the pan.
In this recipe I like to puree an apple in substitution for more oil. It works really well to puree the apple with the oil in a food processor in order for it to come out cleanly. You could also substitute apple sauce, but we never have any around the house, plus it often comes with added sugar or other ingredients we don’t need.
Since this recipe was made with local apples, local blueberries, and our own zucchini, I was trying to come up with ways of making it a true “locavore” recipe, and I am hoping to make some adjustments to it in the future in order to do so. This year’s attempt replaced the lemon with leaves from my lemon verbena plant. I went to a “how to grow your own herbs” seminar at a local orchard and was happily introduced to lemon verbena. I love to rub the leaves of this plant between my fingers, and take in the lemony scent.
I gave it a try and pureed a tablespoon of lemon verbena with the oil to substitute the lemon, and it just didn’t have the same special zest. The lemon really does hold the taste of the muffin together well. Other things I want to try with this recipe: cutting down the sugar (I think that it could probably go down to 1 cup for sure without any other changes), substituting sugar (or at least some of it) for another sweet substitute (maybe honey or maple syrup – although that would probably require some other substitutes as well), and substituting butter for oil.
Feel free to suggest any other substitutions that you think would be good!
1 apple, peeled, cut and pureed (or ~1/2 cup apple sauce)
2 cups (~1 large or 2 small) grated zucchini, pressed to remove water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
Zest from 1 lemon (~1tsp)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 cups flour (2 cups white, 1 cup whole wheat)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups fresh blueberries
For crumble topping:
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup butter, cubed
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of salt
1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 18 small circles out of parchment paper that will fit in the bottom of two muffin tins. Grease the muffin tins and place the parchment paper circles on the bottoms. This will make it easier to remove the muffins.
2.) In a small bowl prepare the crumble topping by mixing the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter using your fingers until it is crumbly. Set aside.
3.) In a large bowl, mix together until well combined the pureed apple, eggs, oil, vanilla, sugar, grated zucchini, and lemon zest. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients into wet mixture until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.
4.) Coat blueberries in a small handful of flour and fold them into muffin mixtures (this keeps them from falling to the bottom when they are baking).
5.) Scoop muffin mixture into greased tins, filling each cup almost completely full. Sprinkle crumble topping evenly over the top of each muffin.
6.) Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes (to let the muffins rise fast) and then turn down the heat to 350 degrees and cook the remaining 15-25 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Let them sit in the tins for 5 minutes before carefully removing and letting them cool on a wire rack.
7.) Enjoy! These muffins are super moist and delicious, so it is best to eat them up within a few days (if they last that long!).