A QUICKIE AND A HANDFUL OF BERRIES
I so feel like Donna over at My Tasty Treasures talking about quickies and all, but so it goes. (Funny thing is, I stopped by her blog written right after her own move and she mentions a quickie, too) You all know that I am up to my neck in packing cartons, trash bags, piles of books and kitchen utensils, I have been fighting with the phone/internet service and wrestling with tape and bubble wrap, arguing with teens and getting help from no one (to be honest, some of them have excuses, but some do not). So this post will be limited to a quickie.
As I clear out closets and empty shelves, as I try and wedge things into boxes just so, like huge 3-D puzzles, not too heavy, not too light, I wonder why I ever thought that this would be either easy or fun. Our Boston, Marty stares at me with those big cow eyes of his, sad and forlorn, lost amidst the cartons. I feel his eyes burn holes into my back each time I drag the tape dispenser across the bottom of a box and he looks daggers if I push one too close to where he is sleeping. Heavy sighs of discontent coming from an 8 kg dog are worse than all the vitriol spewed by all the harried and harassed teenagers put together.
I remember our move from the suburbs of Paris smack dab in the middle of one of the worst heat waves in France’s history. No air conditioning, we had all the French windows flung wide open trying our darnedest to stir up the slightest breeze, sucking on popsicles one after the other. And by the end of the packing process I had become so crazy and lost in what goes where that we were tossing loose objects, lamps and hatboxes, clothes and toys straight into the back of the moving van as they were closing up the doors. Clem and I then hopped on a train to Nantes, carrying violins and boxes of valuables, where we spent the night in the boiling hot apartment, on the floor on bare mattresses waiting for the movers to show up at the crack of dawn the following day. JP and Simon followed in our tiny car (sans air conditioning) with the monster boxer gasping for air in the back seat.
And here we are again but with a new dog (poor Kikka passed away a mere month after our arrival in Nantes) and a lot more furniture. This time around, I have decided to get rid of everything that we have been dragging behind us for way too long, fabric scraps and broken toys, baby clothes half disintegrated and the kids’ old school notebooks. I have saved two boxes of baby clothes and a store-sized collection of Legos, an old telescope (never used) and all of my wooden hat forms. The junk man took away an entire truckload of junk, half empty paint cans and pieces of old armoires, the old bathroom set that was installed when we arrived here, rolls of leftover wallpaper and a ton of other useless things. And as we are moving just a few blocks away, we can throw a load or two of things in the car and drive them over if need be.
Well, enough blathering on about the move and let’s bake! Oh joy berries are in season and although they are somewhat pricey here in Nantes I just cannot keep myself from baking with them. I have been sitting on a recipe for Blueberry Muffle from my former college roommate Cindy, an extraordinary woman and a great friend. Why this is called a Muffle I have no idea, though somewhere in my Swiss cheese for brains memory I do believe that she explained it to me many moons ago. What I do know, though, is that it is a fantastic snack cake, like a coffee cake only much lighter and airier, with plump, juicy, tangy berries and a streusel topping.
This Muffle is a snap to throw together, even quicker when you have leftover streusel in the fridge from another recipe. I had to change the recipe somewhat in order to have a smooth,
creamy batter and instead of using all blueberries I used half blueberries and half raspberries. Cindy also suggests folding the berries into the batter before spreading into the pan, but I sprinkled the berries on top once the batter was already in the pan. I loved the way this looked.
This is so easy and so fantastic that it is a must-do! JP took most of it to work the morning after I baked it (I kept it in the fridge overnight as I was afraid that it would get stale in the heat and just brought it to room temperature before he left for work). He has bi-monthly Board Meetings with his team and he has started to take home-baked goodies with him, which are served with coffee. Yesterday, JP had started the meeting only to be interrupted almost immediately by his new Technical Director who, having seen another Director biting into a square of the Blueberry-Raspberry Muffle, exclaimed “Who gave the green light to start eating?!” and grabbed his own piece! Needless to say, the plate of cake was scarfed down in record time.
And I am also in a hurry with this because I so want to send it over to Reeni♥ at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice for Blogger Secret Ingredient (BSI : Blueberries). Reeni♥ made fantastic Ricotta Filled Crespelle with Blueberry Sauce! How yummy is that?
4 Tbs / ¼ cup (60 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
¾ cup (150 g) sugar
1 large egg
1 ½ cups (190 g) flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup (125 ml) milk
1 ½ - 2 cups blueberries or half blueberries + half raspberries (or other fruit)
Streusel topping (this is Cindy’s recipe although I used a half-recipe by Carole Walter) :
½ cup (100 g) sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
4 Tbs / ¼ cup (60 g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (45 g) flour
For the Streusel topping, blend the dry ingredients together then cut or rub in the butter until it forms a crumb-like consistency. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease (with butter) and lightly flour a 9 x 9-inch (22 x 22 cm) baking pan.
Pick over the berries and discard any bad ones as well as stems and leaves. Rinse quickly if desired and gently pat dry. Set aside.
For the cake batter, combine the softened butter and the sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until blended and fluffy. Beat in the egg until blended. Stir in the vanilla.
Combine the dry ingredients and beat into the butter/sugar/egg mixture until blended. Add the milk and beat until blended, smooth and creamy.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
Sprinkle the berries evenly over the batter.
Sprinkle the Streusel topping all over the batter and berries.
Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until set in the center. The cake may be slightly golden where it peaks through.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing and serving.