I was looking to come up with a mixed berry variation for a muffin that I developed for my recent cookbook, One Bowl Baking, the great companion piece to this weekly column. What follows is a brief rundown of how to make a few slight changes to a recipe to give it a fresh look.
When developing recipes, I find the easiest way to come up with a new slant on a dessert recipe without having to mess around with too many of the structural ingredients is to look at the sugar. A simple switcheroo of white sugar to brown (or vice versa) is an easy makeover. So I took one of my basic white muffins (Peaches and Cream) and swapped out all of the granulated sugar for light brown. Topped with a crunchy buttery streusel, my goal was to create a berry crisp in muffin form.
Looking at the beautiful pint of juicy berries in front of me, I got inspired to take the renovation just one step further by using tangy yogurt for the dairy in the muffin batter. OK, I'll be honest—I forgot to buy milk and I only had yogurt in my fridge. Easy enough but there's just one twist: yogurt and brown sugar are acidic. So to balance out the acidity in the batter, the leavener had to be adjusted. In this case, a small amount of baking soda took the place for what had been previously all baking powder.
Now in a structured recipe testing environment, you'd do it the right way and test each change one by one. But I'm an impatient baker, so after folding in the berries and sprinkling on the buttery streusel, I set the muffins in the oven and crossed my fingers (definitely not scientific). Luck was on my side however. These muffins were gorgeous. Berry moist, oh so tender, and with a hint of molasses from the brown sugar, these are one of my favorite new coffee house treats.