Failure. Tasty, tasty failure.

Last time we had blackberries, I’d planned to make these blueberry muffins, substituting blackberries for blueberries. But my berries were a bit smushy, so I wasn’t sure how they’d hold up in the muffins. So instead I made blackberry butter bettys, with blackberries rather than strawberries (obviously). I had too much filling, so I quickly made a few more toast pieces brushed with regular butter (I’d used up all my brown butter), filled all the little tarts, and popped them in the oven. Btw, if you’re using other fruit that you’re not cutting into pieces, make sure you make less of the crumb filling – the filling sticks to the cut sides of the fruit, but if you’re using whole berries or other whole fruit, they won’t really stick, so use less crumbs. Or you could sprinkle them over some yoghurt with fruit. Or make sweet dumplings and coat them with the crumb mixture.

The blackberry bettys were so delicious that I scalded my mouth a bit while trying eat them while fresh out of the oven. (Note to self – baked fruit can get really really hot). I did eat one with a dollop of creme fraiche, which was an excellent serving suggestions. The blackberry brown bettys were polished off so quickly, I’ll have to make them again. Plus, they’re an excellent last minute dessert – you just need some toast and some fruit, some pantry staples, and you can easily toss this together. I bet the betties would be great with apples, too – a quick non-pie apple dessert.

Blackberry sinkhole

Back to the topic on hand. We were invited to our friends’ place for a birthday party/barbecue/cookout (remember my post on the birthday dress and apron), and they have cherry trees, red currant bushes, a gooseberry bush, apple trees and a lovely lovely blackberry hedge. What’s better than eating sun-warmed berries directly from the bush? We went blackberry picking together and a took a portion home to eat with yoghurt for breakfast. I couldn’t finish up all the blackberries and so here was my chance to try and make those muffins. For breakfast. Yum!

I started mixing the butter and the sugar and started whipping them up. In the meantime, I measured the flour, got my other ingredients ready, and went to get out my eggs. But – no eggs. They were all gone. Even though there were still 2 left the day before. Someone – you know who you are – was my saboteur and didn’t tell me they’d eaten my eggs. If I’d known that I didn’t have eggs, I wouldn’t have started making the muffins. And I didn’t have any of the common egg substitutions on hand – no tofu, no smushed bananas, no egg substitute. I did have homemade apple sauce that a friend had made, but when I opened the bottle, the apple sauced started foaming. Not a good sign. It probably wasn’t conserved properly. So no apple sauce available. I guess I could have tried soaked flax seed as a substitute but I just couldn’t imagine it.

Then I started searching for recipes of muffins where the butter sugar mix would fit ingredient-wise – btw, I’d already buttered the pan. I also wanted a recipe where I could use my blackberries. I finally found a recipe for black-bottomed cupcakes. They called for a cream cheese filling with chocolate pieces – yum! – and though I didn’t have any cream cheese, I figured I could try and mix up a filling out of blackberries, yoghurt and bread crumbs that could kind of work.

I had to do some math to figure out all my substitutions – I didn’t have enough brown sugar, I added some oil to the butter (and had to do some match to figure out the additional moisture requirement), and left out the cocoa powder. I had some doubts if all the recipe would work out with my modifications, but hey, I figured it would be worth the experiment. I added my ‘filling’ and, taking care not to overfill the forms, I sent them off into the oven.

Well, I’d overfilled the muffin forms. I got quite a bit of muffin top (which btw tasted delicious). And then I tried to get a muffin out of the form. Which I’d made sure to butter beforehand – but failed to put in cupcake liners since I didn’t have any. Clearly I need to stock up my pantry, because I seem to need to replenish my staples. Anyway, the cupcakes refused to leave their forms. No amount of loosening along the edges and careful prodding with the spoon got them out of their form. Finally I ended up spooning pieces out and eating them right then and there.

blackberries in muffins

As you can see, I had some ‘release’ problems

Since I couldn’t get them out of their form, you get a photograph of them pre-‘release.’ The berry filling made for a sunken filling – but also tasty. Overall, the muffins were soooooo delicious. They were a bit more cakey, which probably was part of the problem with them sticking. This is a recipe worth tweaking I bet I can ultimately get some awesome blackberry muffins out of this. Ultimately, this experiment was a failure. But a very very tasty failure. And it was a good reminder that baking is really about chemistry, about proper proportions, and that you just can’t substitute all over the place.

Or, I could just try and make these lemon ricotta blackberry muffins instead. Don’t they look delicious?

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