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It All Began with Raspberries I have a soft spot in my heart for raspberries. The ruby berries were the first crop my husband, Drew, and I ever grew, and they will always be one of my favorite fruits. When perfectly ripe, raspberries have a unique sweet-tart taste and delicate texture that seem to melt in your mouth. I’m so devoted to raspberries, we’ve given them a chapter of their own.
During our first few years, Drew and I spent June through October harvesting raspberries from dawn until dusk. For our fledgling roadside stand to be successful, we had to find every ripe berry, carefully lifting each thorny branch to discover any that were hiding underneath the leaves. It takes patient, gentle hands to pick the soft berries without crushing them. Even a half-pint basket fills slowly when the berries are so small. I was also teaching myself how to cook during these early years. Raspberries were often my main ingredient as I looked for creative ways to avoid wasting a single one. Although a few of my cooking experiments were disasters, some turned out to be fabulous, and I continue to make them to this day.
Corn muffins made with raspberries were one of my biggest successes. Customers stopping at our stand for a basket of berries would buy my freshly baked muffins to enjoy on the way home. Decades later, some of those early customers still reminisce about the muffins’ moist, natural sweetness. Raspberry jam was another best-seller that I continue to make every year for my family. Raspberries have so much natural pectin that all they need is sugar and low, slow cooking to turn the fruit into a jam we enjoy all year long.
Of course, raspberries are equally at home on a dessert plate. For a special event, our friend Sarah’s Chocolate Soufflés with Raspberry Sauce is our all-time favorite. Or for an easy, healthy treat, my mom’s recipe for frozen raspberry yogurt churns out rosy pink with lovely berry bits.
Our original raspberry stand is long gone, but three rows of raspberry bushes still grow behind our house. Now berry picking is a way to relax with my family after work. Even our dog, Jack, joins us. He seems to be able to smell which berries are ripe and has taught himself to pull the berries off the low-hanging branches with his tongue and eat them.
Some of our bushes were transplanted to the Carmel Valley fields beside our Farm Stand, where they continue to thrive. After all these years, our loyal customers still buy baskets of our organic raspberries and a muffin from the Farm Stand’s Organic Kitchen to nibble on the road. I hope you’ll enjoy our raspberry muffins as much as they do and discover other fresh ideas for bringing this succulent berry into your own life.
Raspberry Corn Muffins
Drew and I grew and sold organic raspberries during our early farming years, and I often baked raspberry muffins using any berries we had left over. Through my kitchen window, I could see customers driving up to our raspberry stand, and I’d quickly wash the flour from my hands before going outside to greet them. If their timing was right, in addition to baskets of fresh raspberries, they could buy a still-warm, invitingly moist corn muffin, loaded with fresh raspberries, to eat on the way home.
MAKES 12 STANDARD-SIZE MUFFINS
Butter for greasing the muffin cups (unless using cupcake liners)
1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs 1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 half-pint (about 11/4 cups) fresh raspberries or frozen (unthawed) unsweetened raspberries
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter 12 standard-size muffin cups or line them with cupcake liners.
2. Place the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl and whisk to combine well.
3. Place the eggs, honey, sugar, buttermilk, and melted butter in a small bowl and whisk to combine well. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Gently fold in the raspberries. Do not overmix the batter or the muffins will be tough. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them almost to the brim.
4. Bake the muffins until they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. 5. Place the muffin pan on a wire rack and let the muffins cool for about 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and serve warm. The muffins taste best the day they are made but, if necessary, they can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Reheat them in a microwave for about 10 seconds or in a preheated 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.