I woke up this morning to realize that yesterday was National Pick a Blueberry Day and so not surprisingly, today is National Blueberry Muffin day. While I like blueberries, they take fourth place in my list of berry favorites (raspberry, blackberry, strawberry and then blueberry. Yet my favorite way to eat them has always been in muffins.
What I have found fascinating about blueberries is the various spiritual and medicinal uses and meanings. For example, blueberries contain anthocyanin, which is good for eyesight and they contain significant quantities of both antibacterial and antiviral compounds and have a reputation in northern Europe of fighting infections. They may also help protect against heart disease. Native Americans believed that the five-pointed start on the top of the berry was a sign that they were sent by the Great Spirit to feed children and never allow them to go hungry.
Making the perfect muffin is fairly simple, it just calls for one to be patient and nor rush the process. For example, it is best to combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ones in another. Before combining them, most baker sources I went to suggested you make a well in the dry ingredients, similar to what you do when making fresh pasta, and slowly add the wet ingredients
What I found most interesting was that you do not fold them and mix them together until the batter is smooth and lumpless. Instead, you want to just moisten the ingredients. They should be mixed together just to moisten the ingredients and you should have a lumpy, thick, floury, mess. Then you add anything lumpy, like your blueberries to the mixture and give the batter one more stir to simply fold the lumpy blueberries into the lumpy mixture.
This was a new way of making muffins for me. I had never been taught that lumps were good, rather I had been taught to think about lumps as imperfections. There is something liberating in knowing that our batter does not have to look perfect, rather the perfection comes in the presence of the imperfections. Like our muffin batter, we too have been told we have imperfections, so this little lesson has the opportunity to be healing as we realize our lumpiness is part of what makes us and our batter perfect.
The next step is to line our pan. While one can choose not to use paper liners, they will keep your muffins fresher for longer. As I was thinking about this I realized that my liners are like my faith, which keeps me in place while I am being made into something new (a muffin).
The next lesson I learned is to not overfill my muffin cups. They need room to expand and grow. We too need room to grow in our own journeys. Once filled we can add some texture to the top of our muffins. The flavor and texture will bake into our dough. Isn’t that like life, there is always some additional layer of experience and wisdom being baked into us.
When they are done baking, it is time to let them cool down. The cooling like the blending should occur in stages and not be rushed. First, let them sit in the muffin pans for a few minutes and then move them to a cooling rack. Sitting too long in their original pan will move them from being moist to soggy. While it might feel comfortable to stay in the space we are comfortable, we too much remember to not stay in life situations longer then we should.
Today as we celebrate the taste and texture of Blueberry Muffins, may we also take time to reflect on the lessons to be learned in the preparation.