Sweet Interlude: Berry Muffins with Orange Zest and Raw Sugar Sprinkle

Make delicious muffins anytime with berries from the freezer! With America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe as the template, a sparkling orange zest and raw sugar sprinkle is the detail that sets these muffins apart.

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LET’S TALK ABOUT our average American baked goods. They’re usually from the supermarket and just taste like sugary shortening. I guess we can find some decent baked goods if we are lucky enough to have a small bakery/coffee house or something like that, but buying these things adds up quickly, so we must become independent from other bakeries, delicious or not. America’s Test Kitchen, of course, has my favorite recipe for a simple muffin. They bake using science and chemistry, so everything is tested and actually turns out the first time you try to make it. Their recipe is a buttermilk blueberry muffin, which is great, but Costco has this wonderful bag of frozen organic triple berry blend that is ridiculous, so I just used ATK’s recipe as a starting point and made adjustments. They make a “jam” and pair that with fresh berries, but with my frozen berries, I just double the “jam” and just use that to flavor the muffins. I add orange zest to the batter and also to some crunchy, sparkling raw sugar as a topping, and man, these muffins really are awesome. So here’s another great recipe from the western side of the world!


These frozen berries from Costco (Townsend Farms Organic Triple Berry Blend) are the best! Have them on hand for these muffins, smoothies, or use them for my recipe Fleshes: Fruit + Meat from Around the Globe | Sage and Garlic Pork Loin with Berry Sauce and Tarragon Roasted Potatoes!

WHO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT making really great baked goods: America’s Test Kitchen @TestKitchen, Zoe Nathan @ZoeNathanLoeb and her book and bakery Huckleberry, King Arthur Flour, Eugenie @EugenieKitchen from her blog Eugenie Kitchen.


Sweet Interlude: Triple Berry Muffins with Orange Zest and Raw Sugar Sprinkle

Sweet Interlude: Berry Muffins with Orange Zest and Raw Sugar Sprinkle. Winner for Team Spain!

Berry Muffins with Orange Zest and Raw Sugar Sprinkle

Adapted from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2015. Makes 12 muffins, easy-medium fuss, about 45 mins. to make.


2 cups frozen berries (i.e. Costco’s Townsend Farms Organic Triple Berry Blend)

2 tsp granulated sugar


1 cup + 2 TBS granulated sugar

2 1/2 cups unbleached AP flour (preferably King Arthur Flour)

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp kosher salt

2 large eggs

4 TBS unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

4 TBS neutral oil, such as sunflower

1 cup buttermilk (or 1 scant cup milk + 1 scant TBS white vinegar or lemon juice)

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp orange zest, divided

1/3 scant cup raw sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F, and place baking rack on the upper-middle slot. Spray a 12-muffin tin with nonstick spray (plain oil does not work very well!), set aside.
  2. Place “jam” ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cover with a lid, let thaw a few minutes, bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, mix together 1 tsp orange zest and the raw sugar in a small bowl, set aside.
  3. Once the berries are brought to a simmer, raise the heat to medium-high, mash the berries and allow the juices to thicken. Stir every few seconds, until the berries have broken down and the sauce has reduced to about a heaping 1/2 cup, about 8-10 minutes. The sauce should be like a somewhat loose jam. Remove from heat and place the mixture in a bowl to cool.
  4. For the batter, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate, medium-size bowl, whisk granulated sugar and eggs together, until thick and pale in color, about 45 seconds. Then, slowly whisk in the butter and oil until mixture is homogenous, add buttermilk, vanilla, and remaining 1 tsp orange zest and whisk until combined. With a rubber spatula, fold in the egg mixture into the flour mixture, being careful not to over mix (a few little lumps or spots of flour is ok).
  5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin with a 1/3 cup ice cream/measuring scoop (or heaping 1/4 cup scoop), making sure batter is equally divided into each muffin cup. Spoon about 2 tsp of the berry “jam” into each mound of batter, then using a chopstick or long, moistened toothpick, fold or swirl the jam in a figure 8 throughout the batter. To finish, sprinkle the orange zest-raw sugar mixture evenly on the tops of each mound of batter.
  6. Place tin in the oven and bake about 16-18 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the tops are golden brown. Allow the muffins to cool about 5 minutes, then remove them from the tin, then (ideally!) let cool another 5 minutes on a baking tray before serving.

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