Sour Cherry Almond Muffins

sour cherry almond muffins -

Why have I never made an almond and cherry baked good before? My apartment smelled so wonderful after baking these; the almond smell is dreamy! These muffins are a bit more on the mini-cake side, meaning I don’t think they’re the healthiest muffins I’ve ever made. That’s not to say I didn’t have one for breakfast a few times   . . . and they’re really good with tea!

We ate one of these while they were warm, which is when they are at their best, but they were also great the next day. I froze the rest as soon as they were cool, and they were still really good when thawed.

I found the recipe on this site: Pretty Simple Sweet. The original recipe uses sweet cherries, but I used sour cherries, and I think they pair really well with the almond flavour. I tend to like to balance sweetness with tartness.

The recipe calls for baking the muffins for a few minutes at a higher temperature, then lowering the temperature for the rest of the baking. My oven is really finicky; I have to set it for higher than the required temperature, but then I have to lower it once it is at the right temperature or it will get too hot. So for me this was quite challenging. The good news is, by checking for a light brownness, and then using a toothpick to check if they had baked through, they baked successfully. Yay!

What you need:

  • 1 & 3/4 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  •  2 teaspoons baking powder
  •  1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  •  1 large egg, slightly beaten
  •  1 cup yogurt (I use 3.5% fat, my homemade recipe)
  •  1/3 cup (80 mL) canola oil
  •  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  1 teaspoon pure almond extract 
  •  1 & 1/2 cups (300 grams) cherries, halved and pitted 
  •  1/2 cup sliced almonds, plus extra to sprinkle on top

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F/220C. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners; I also sprayed them with baking spray.
  2. Toast the 1/2 cup of almonds in a frying pan or in the oven.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
  4. Mix the egg with the yogurt, oil, and vanilla and almond extracts in a medium bowl.
  5. Pit and cut the cherries in half. If they are really juicy or if you’re using frozen berries, you can toss them in just a bit of flour to prevent bleeding. Prepare the cherries right before you are going to add them to the batter so that your finished product will look pretty.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold the batter with a rubber spatula just until combined. Be careful to not over-mix, which would toughen the final product. We want nice light muffins. You can expect the batter to be thick and lumpy.
  7. Fold in the toasted almonds and cherries.
  8. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with a few un-toasted almonds.
  9. Bake for three minutes, then reduce the temperature of the oven to 375F/190C and bake for 12-17 minutes more. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick; the muffin should be tender but not wet.
  10. Cool the muffins still in the tins for about 10 minutes, then place the muffins on a wire rack to cool.
  11. Allow the muffins to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. They can be stored on the counter for a day or two, or frozen for a few months.
  12. Enjoy!

Lemon Cherry Poppy Seed Muffins

Oops, I think I’m getting the keyboard sticky. . . I just baked these, and they’re so good that I’m typing while I eat.  To be fair, they’re more of a mini cake than muffin – I think of a muffin of something sort of healthy, and I can’t really think of any health benefits for these except the sheer joy of eating them.  And joy is pretty good medicine, don’t you think?

I’ve been wanting to make a lemon cherry poppy seed muffin for a while, but I haven’t found a recipe I like.  I took this one from the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog mainly because it had buttermilk in the recipe, which I think is the reason these turned out so light and cakey.  The original recipe is blueberry lemon, so I just exchanged the blueberries for dried cherries and poppy seeds.  I also made the glaze out of white sugar instead of the icing sugar the recipe called for, because I find glazes made of icing sugar have a bit of a tinny taste to them.

This recipe makes 1 dozen, but feels free to double it if you need more.

What you need:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 & 1/4 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 & 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped (sour cherries if you have them!)

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

for the glaze:

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

What you do:

1.  Place paper liners in a 12 cup muffin tin.  Preheat the oven to 375 F.

2.  Beat the butter until light and fluffy, then add the sugar and beat again.

3.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the lemon zest and juice, and the vanilla.

4.  For the next part make sure you beat only as much as necessary to incorporate the ingredients: Beat in 1/2 cup of the flour, then 1/4 cup of the buttermilk.  Add 1/2 more cup of flour, then 1/4 cup more buttermilk.

5.  Mix the remaining 1/2 cup of flour with the baking power, baking soda, poppy seeds and salt.  Hand mix this into the batter until just barely mixed in, then add the cherries and just fold them in.

6.  Spoon into the lined muffin tins.

7.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  They should have a golden brown hue.

8.  While the muffins are baking, put the glaze ingredients in a pot and heat enough for them to melt together.

9.  When the muffins are baked, place them on a rack to cool and glaze them right away.

I recommend eating them while they are still warm, but I’m sure they’ll be almost as good when they’ve cooled.