18 January 2010

Giant Buttermilk Soda Muffins

I have been making these giant breakfast muffins for several years now, and every time I pull a batch from the oven I wonder why I'm not making these every week.  These muffins (made with plenty of whole wheat flour, a smidgen of butter, and low-fat buttermilk) have the tender texture of biscuits, yet they are definitely much healthier--and more satisfying--than any biscuit I've had.  They have been the focal point of many a leisurely breakfast at home and have also gone out into the local mountains, fueling many a hungry rock climbing friend during chilly morning sessions on the rocks.

With the rain pouring down today, I felt like some tea and hearty muffins hot from the oven would be the perfect thing for breakfast.  I just love the golden crust on these guys, the way the buttermilk works together with the baking powder and soda to give a glorious lift to the dough, and the golden raisins that dot the muffins with little nuggets of sweetness.  So I turned to this recipe (published in Bon Appetit, but originally from The Overlook Inn Bed and Breakfast in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia), and in the time it took for my oven to pre-heat, I had these muffins mixed up and scooped into the muffin tin.  Really, I should be--could be--making these guys every week!

So what is the best way to enjoy these?  Fresh out of the oven, split open and slathered with some whipped cream cheese and drizzled with honey.  Or spread with homemade apricot jam.  Today I had a little pot of sage honey from San Marcos Farms, a sweet favor from the wedding of my dear friends Mary and Andy, so I used that.  Oh, so delicious.

Giant Soda Muffins
Makes 8

1½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 Tbs. butter, room temperature
1 cup golden raisins (chopped dried apricots would be good too)
1¼ cups buttermilk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400°F.  While oven heats, whisk first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Blend butter into flour until incorporated, then stir in raisins and coat well with flour mixture. Whisk buttermilk and egg together, then add to dry ingredients and stir to blend.

Using an ice cream scoop, divide batter among 8 large muffin cups lined with muffin papers.  Bake muffins until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Remove muffins from pan. Cool slightly on rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Store any leftover muffins in an airtight container.  To get leftover muffins back to fresh-baked glory, remove the muffin paper and toast the entire muffin in a toaster oven.  You'll end up with that delicious, crunchy crust again.  Enjoy!


The Faux Gourmet said...

Just made a batch- they're in the oven now & I'm really excited to try!

Katy said...

Wow! Erica, this looks like a professional gourmet website. Did you take all the pictures and write all the recipes? It's no wonder Bon Appetite (sorry if I mis-spelled the French words) wants to feature you on their website. If there weren't so many cookbooks out there already, I would definitely encourage you to write your own cookbooks. However, I think nowadays people search online for recipes anyway (at least that's what my husband and I do). Oh, by the way, I am Katy, the easily anxious rotation student who is temporarily situated at the bench right next to yours in this quarter. I am not a random stalking stranger. ...And I rambled on...
I will definitely try a few recipes you posted during the break! They look so ~~~ delicious!!

ph said...

Just popped some of these in the oven to feed to my students tonight. Added blueberries. Hope they last till the students get here...

LGL said...

Hi Erica I found your lovely website when I googled "Muffins w/buttermilk & soda". The recipe & pics for Giant Soda Muffins look great! Could I use less baking powder & more baking soda? Would I need to add more/less of any other ingredients? Thank You!! LGL

erica said...


Glad to have you visit Apricosa! You can certainly substitute the baking powder with baking soda; you just need to have the alkaline + acid to generate the carbon dioxide bubbles which leaven the dough. I'd recommend 1 tsp. baking powder = 1/4 tsp. baking soda (alkaline) plus 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar (acid). Another option is to use vinegar or lemon juice instead of the cream of tartar. However, these types of acids are fast-acting, so it is important to pop the muffins into the oven as soon as possible after mixing the batter. The advantage of using double-acting baking powder is that it has a both a fast-acting acid as well as a slow-acting acid that releases more carbon dioxide during baking, ensuring sufficient leavening.

I've gotten some feedback from family that these muffins aren't very sweet; this is true...I'd characterize them more as a biscuit in muffin form, so feel free to increase the sugar if you're looking for something on the sweeter side!

Hope you enjoy the muffins, and let me know how they turn out!


Nancy @ TheSensitivePantry said...

These look wonderful. I'm a big fan of not-too-sweet baked goods so look forward to trying these. I'm going to try to make them gluten-free and vegan. Will let you know if they survive the transformation.

The Faux Gourmet said...

I liked these so much I made my own blog post on them, credit to you of course!

The Faux Gourmet said...

Whoops, the link to my post is: http://www.thefauxgourmet.com/2010/03/muffins-with-margin-of-error-taste-see.html

Thanks, lady! You've made a baker out of me!

erica said...

Hi Nancy, I would definitely love to hear if the gluten-free/vegan transformation works out. I have a number of friends with food sensitivities and your blog is an inspiration!

JR, I am SO flattered by your blog post. *blush* Your photos are absolutely gorgeous, and I am totally impressed by your homemade butter. I can just imagine how delicious it is paired with the muffins!

LGL said...

Hi Erica, Thank you for the info about baking powder & soda. I really didn't want to totally substitute the baking soda for all the baking powder -just reduce it. Any thoughts?? Thanks so much!!! LGL

erica said...

Hmm, I think if you want to reduce the baking powder it would be good to increase the amount of soda and add a little more acid to the mix. So, you could do 1 tsp. baking powder, 3/4 tsp. baking soda, and 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar (or vinegar) instead of the original "2 tsp. baking powder and ½ tsp. baking soda" as stated in the original recipe. I've always stuck the the amount of baking powder as it's listed, but I am pretty sure that this would be a good substitute. Let me know how it turns out! :)

LGL said...

Hi Erica, Thanks for your thoughts on the baking powder/soda topic! I'll let you know how the muffins turn out...

LGL said...

Hi Erica, I made the muffins & they turned out great!! I used 1-1/2 tsp baking powder & 1 tsp soda - 3Tbs sugar & 3Tbs butter - baked in 12 muffin cups. Next time I'll try just 1 tsp baking powder & 1 tsp soda - maybe add another
egg...I think dried cranberries would be good too!! Thanks for all your suggestions!!!(PS I am super sensitive to the taste of baking powder & soda too.}

erica said...

Hi LGL, I'm thrilled that you liked them! Cranberries are a great idea, I should try those too!

Kim (Liv Life) said...

Oh my! These SO look like something I will love. I can't wait to give these a try.

Anonymous said...

Hi I just started learning how to bake. I want to bake cheese muffins. I would like to double the ingredients. While I double the ingredients, should I double the amount of baking powder as well? Thank you. Also, I have one question regarding baking powder and baking soda. What's the difference between these two? Thank you again for your help.

erica said...

Hi Rita,

Welcome to Apricosa! So glad you are learning how to bake. Cheese muffins sound delicious--and I think this recipe would be absolutely fantastic with some nice sharp cheddar or gruyere mixed in.

If you plan on doubling the recipe, you should definitely double the amount of each ingredient listed (which includes the baking powder). Baking powder and baking soda are both leavening agents (giving rise to the baking dough by forming bubbles in the dough through a chemical reaction of alkaline + acid + water). They differ, though, in that soda is an alkaline only (and you have to supply the acid with another ingredient, such as vinegar or buttermilk) and baking powder is a pre-mixed combination of alkaline + acid that becomes activated when moistened by the liquid ingredients.

For more info, see my comment to LGL above.

Happy baking!

Anonymous said...

Hi Erica,

Thank you so much for your prompt reply. I truly appreciated it. In fact, I tried to make cheese muffin the other day. I doubled the ingredients, but I only doubled the baking soda and it tasted awful!! I will try to make it again and will let you know how it turns out. Thank you again for your help. Your info has been a great help to me.


Kim (Liv Life) said...

I just made these for the 2nd time... LOVE them. They didn't turn out as pretty as your though! Thanks again for this post!

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