I told my students in the fall that I knew it to be true that doughnuts were the new cupcakes. Several of them looked at me as if this idea were absurd: how could I know such things?
Because I have a Master’s degree, kiddos. And my ear to the ground. And my friend Andrea told me so.
But I had a thought the other day: wouldn’t it be wonderful if muffins were next? If beautiful, reasonably-sized muffins were suddenly popping up in boutiques with cool new flavors? If the work of Seinfeld could be reversed and the muffin as a whole (rather than just the top) were celebrated? And wouldn’t it be awesome if I was the revolutionary who took muffins to that next glorious level?
Muffins have become a bit tired. Bran. Morning harvest, all chock-full of seeds and berries and tree branches. Yes, good, healthy, whatever. Banana-nut. Chocolate chip. Double chocolate (glory be). From fiber-full to deliciously sweet, muffins are wonderful, but I think that in the grand scope of American baked goods, they’re a tad overlooked.
Which is a shame. And I’m not just saying that because I’m constantly singing the muffin top song from 30 Rock. I love a good breakfast pastry, and few things outshine a perfect, heated muffin, buttered and perfectly paired with my coffee.
This weekend, Amanda challenged me to keep up my spree of making pastries for us to have for breakfast. She leaves at dark-thirty in the morning, so a quick breakfast that doesn’t require any work is all she has time for. And I just like pastries. So while I did some experimenting with spinach-filled puff pastry, I also knew that something bready and delicious was necessary.
I found a bag of frozen blueberries in my freezer, and my first thought was muffins.
I scandalized my former roommate by making a slight alteration to Nigella Lawson’s blueberry muffin recipe: I added cinnamon. No offense to Nigella’s purist recipe, but I love the sweet warm spice of cinnamon paired with the zippy tang of blueberry.
So naturally I thought cinnamon chips would pair great with blueberries. And they did. This recipe is a modified version of the one from The Joy of Cooking, and these muffins are light, reasonably-sized, and full of lovely little blueberries and cinnamon morsels. They’re perfect heated, split in half, and buttered liberally. I have a suspicion that adding a little orange zest to the recipe couldn’t hurt, but I haven’t tested that theory yet.
About our guest: Dana Staves earned her MFA in Creative Writing at Old Dominion University, where she studied Fiction. While attending ODU, she was awarded a competitive internship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she worked with renowned writers and visual artists, passed her evenings as a hotel concierge, and ate way too much ice cream. She is the former food editor for AltDaily, an alternative magazine based in Hampton Roads, Virginia. She teaches writing and literature at Old Dominion University, is a freelance food writer, and is currently working on her first book. Visit Whisks & Words.