It’s been four years since I last published a recipe. But every so often, I get a notification that someone new has visited or followed the blog, or someone asks why I stopped, or I visit it myself to remember a recipe (mostly because I rarely re-make things, and I’m terrible at remembering which of my earmarked recipes I ended up using.) And then I remember that I did enjoy this little project, and I think that maybe I shouldn’t abandon it wholesale.
Today was one of those days because I had extra ricotta cheese, and I thought these pancakes would be a good idea for tomorrow morning. But I can’t leave well enough alone, and since Pinterest has come into its own in the time since I last did this blog thing, I looked for other things to do with the ricotta (specifically, things that would not require morning math or measuring.) My five year old was sitting next to me, saw a picture of blueberry muffins, and asked me to “please make those.” I had everything I needed on hand, but I also had a few tweaks I wanted to make to the recipe as I was reading it, so I was off to the races. The little one helped.
This is a pretty basic recipe that uses the “muffin method” (mix all your wet ingredients together, mix all your dry ingredients together, mix it all together) but uses ricotta in the place of yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk or milk. The ricotta – especially whole milk ricotta -is quite thick and makes for a very sturdy batter, which should not be over-mixed. Really: fold it about 10 times and walk away. Even if there are still streaks of flour. Even if there are lumps. Even if you think I’m crazy. It will hydrate itself if you just let it sit a minute.
Another thing to note about the “muffin method” of baking is that sugar counts as a wet ingredient. It dissolves so quickly in the wet ingredients that its addition to the eggs, cheese and butter gives you more liquid to work into the dry ingredients. The original version of this recipe had the sugar included with the dry ingredients, and while I’m sure it works, I was happy to have the volume of the sugar in my “wet” bowl so that I could mix the two more evenly and more gently.
Because the batter was going to be so stiff, I was concerned that adding the blueberries after I’d mixed that batter would crush them and leave me with a gray muffin. I decided to toss the berries with the dry ingredients and just incorporate them with the wet ingredients all at once. Again, this required a light hand, which had the lucky side effect of forcing me to not over-mix the batter. The end result is a moist, tender muffin with great color contrast and juicy berries. The sweet, lemony crunch from the sugar on top doesn’t hurt, either. But, really, you could do without it just as easily. But look how pretty it is with it …
Ricotta Muffins with Blueberries and Lemon
(inspired by Dorie Greenspan and adapted from Patty Price’s Honest Cooking)
¾ cup whole milk ricotta, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup sugar
Zest of one lemon, peeled in strips
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups blueberries