I’m not a good fruit eater. With the exception of bananas, which I eat almost daily, I just never crave fruit. I like fruit, and if you put it in front of me, I’ll eat it and enjoy it-but left to my own devices, I’m pretty meh about it all. Until peach season rolls around, that is.
Peaches are a problem in that they look so pretty, but can be so so disappointing. Mealy, drab and flavorless, nothing like their bright soft exteriors promised. They make me mad. But when you get a good summer peach, oh man, that is one the most transcendent summer experiences. Sweet and heavy with juice, the best ones require you to eat them leaning over a sink to catch the drips as they pour off your elbows. I love peach season.
Last week I decided I wanted to make peach bread of some description, but when I saw this recipe for Peach and Basil muffins, it was a done deal. Not only do I have an ever-replenishing bowl of peaches on my table, but I have one crazy-ass pot of basil quickly taking over my windowsill. Seriously, I’ve never seen basil grow like this; it is hap-py. These muffins called for a technique I’ve never used for muffins before. Rather then using oil or melted butter, or even creaming softened butter, they ask you to rub cold butter into the flour, much like pastry making. I was…not really skeptical, but more just curious about the final texture using this technique. It turns out I had nothing to worry about; they were light and soft and moist, just like they should be.
The peaches are muddled in with the basil, brown sugar and lemon juice, just until their juices start to flow. WIth that combination flavoring these muffins, how could they possibly be bad? The final muffins are really really nice (how’s that for descriptive?). At first you just taste the peaches, but then you get the subtle herbiness from the basil and you brain does a little, slightly-confused jig. They’re just barely sweet, making them a fabulous breakfast muffin. A fabulous breakfast muffin that tastes just like summer.
Peach and Basil Muffins
From Muffins Galore by Catherine Atkinson. Makes 12.
I don’t peel things. I think the peach skin is pretty and it doesn’t bother me, so I left it on. Remove the butter from the fridge 10 minutes before you use it so that it’s cold, but not concrete hard. Don’t have self-rising flour? Yeah, me either. Luckily, you can make it yourself: 1 c. self rising flour = 1 c. all purpose flour+1.5 t baking powder + .5 t salt
2 ripe peaches, pitted and chopped into small cubes
2 T chopped fresh basil
3 T light brown sugar
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 c self-rising flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 butter, coldish (see above) and cut into small cubes
generous 1/2 c sugar
2/3 c milk
- Combine the peaches, basil, brown sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Let sit ~30 min
- Heat oven to 400ºF and line muffin pan with paper cups (or just grease the pan)
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder
- Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine bread crumbs
- Stir the sugar and lemon zest into the flour mixture
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg and milk. Add to the flour mixture, alternating with the peaches (and their juice!), stirring until just mixed
- Divide into the prepared muffin cups and bake ~20 minutes, until puffed and golden