I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: I’m no fan of the warmer months. Give me a cool breeze and tricolored leaves over high temperatures any day. However, I have to admit that there are some features of spring and summer that really excite me. This year, I have a new item to add to that list – gardening!
We decided to try our hand at growing organic fruit this year, specifically strawberries. We used a large container, once used as a summer splash pool for the dogs, and planted several strawberry plants. We called it “the experiment” without great hopes for any significant berry yield. It’s our first year at this, after all. So, we planted, we watered, we nurtured. Within weeks, our little experiment yielded berries!
Nothing tastes better than a sun-kissed strawberry grown from your own garden. I tasted the first one and was astonished by the flavor and juiciness of the berry. No grocery store berry compares to a homegrown strawberry.
Here are two of my favorite online resources for growing your own organic strawberries at home:
I wanted to create a recipe to celebrate the berry bounty. Muffins are, hands down, one of my favorite baked items to create and experiment with. When I was considering what to bake with these berries, muffins immediately came to mind. Portable. Warm but light and appropriate for spring and summer. Sweet and tangy. When we had a momentary wave of heat in February, I ran to my muffins tins and made Mango and Coconut Muffins. Something about warm weather and fruit always brings me back to muffins.
These Strawberries and Cream Muffins are the perfect combination of juicy, organic strawberries – commercially grown will work, too, but the flavor is far more muted – and cream cheese. The two combine to create a velvety symphony of flavor. These muffins are sweet but mild. The flavors aren’t bold; they are more sublime. Think strawberry shortcake versus French silk pie for dessert. Both are delicious, but the flavor notes vary in intensity. They also contain a small amount of one of my favorite ingredients: Tupelo honey. This honey has a distinctively sweet flavor, different than other honey I’ve tasted, and is the perfect inclusion in this recipe.
For me, there’s no better way to celebrate the season than with fresh strawberries and cool cream cheese combined in a hand held, two-bite piece of heaven.
Strawberries and Cream Muffins
Makes 18 standard-size muffins
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3 large eggs
- 3 cups fresh, organic strawberries, finely chopped
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon Tupelo honey
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a standard-size muffin pan.
- In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, cream cheese, Tupelo honey, and one egg. Using an electric or standing mixer, combine until smooth. Set aside.
- In a standing mixer, cream remaining sugar and butter. A fluffy texture should be achieved. Add eggs and combine well.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and sea salt until well combined. Then, begin adding flour mixture slowly in three parts. Between flour mixture additions, add buttermilk and the cream cheese mixture. Add in this order: flour, milk, cream cheese mixture, flour, milk, cream cheese mixture, flour, milk, cream cheese mixture. Blend on a low setting in the standing mixer until well combined.
- Once the batter is completely blended, add the fruit. Combine thoroughly.
- Transfer mixture to the muffin pan, filling each cavity to 3/4 full, leaving room for expansion during baking.
- Bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes. The muffins will remain lightly colored on the tops. When ready, a toothpick should be inserted and removed clean.
- Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then, remove and allow to continue cooling on a cooling rack.
- Store in an airtight container for two to three days. And most importantly, enjoy!