There’s a song that goes “you ain’t seen nothin’ ’til you’re down on a muffin,” and while I doubt very much that Steven Tyler was singing about pastries, we’ll just go ahead and “dream on” today. July 11 is National Blueberry Muffin Day!
Muffins are semi-sweet cakes or quick breads that are baked in individual portion sizes. Today’s “American style” muffins are made without yeast and have been popular since the end of the 18th century, but “English” muffins – made with yeast – date back much further, to the 10th or 11th century, where they originated in Wales and were cooked on a griddle. Muffin rings were used to shape English muffins, while muffin tins are used as molds to shape American-style muffins. Cupcakes, which are like muffins’ sweeter cousin, appeared soon after, around 1828.
Blueberries are one of the most common muffin ingredients; their juicy tartness is the perfect foil for the sweet muffin batter. Plus, they’re tiny enough to fit easily inside an individual muffin. Try sticking an apple or a pear in a muffin – ha! Bet’cha can’t do it. Blueberries are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, low in calories, and taste friggin’ delicious, too. Minnesota knows: they made the blueberry muffin their official state muffin in 1988, leaving Massachusetts to grumble over their choice, the corn muffin. (“What were we thinking?!”). They can still pahk the cah and grab some blueberry muffins from the corner Piggly Wiggly, I’m sure.
Which is exactly what we did. Only there are no Piggly Wigglys out here, but there are coffee shops galore. Starbucks it was!
- Blueberry muffins!! (sezlamont.wordpress.com)
- Blueberry Muffins (twogalskitchen.wordpress.com)
- Recipe: Alton Brown’s Blueberry Muffins (mmurphy65.wordpress.com)
Few things are as American as blueberry pie. Which makes April 28th a pretty patriotic day: it’s National Blueberry Pie Day!
Blueberries are native to North America, and weren’t even introduced to Europe until the 1930s. They grow like crazy in New England, and appealed to early settlers, who found many uses for the fruit – but strangely, eating them plain was rare. Until the 19th century, consuming fresh fruit was thought to be unhealthy, so the blueberries were typically baked into pies. I’m guessing the colonists’ food pyramid looked a lot different than ours! New England housewives almost always had a supply of both sweet and savory pies on hand, ready to serve to family and guests. Pies were proof that the family farm was thriving.
Most of the time, celebrating these food holidays is fun. But not so much when you’ve got a delicious leftover birthday cake, and the next day you’ve got to eat blueberry pie. We wanted to buy a slice to share and call it good, but blueberry pie is hard to find. Maybe if this were Maine we’d have better luck, since blueberry pie is that state’s official dessert. But blueberries would have to be in season for us to have any shot of finding one locally, and we’re still a couple of months away from that happening. We came up with a pretty good solution, though: bake a mini pie instead! I found some small aluminum pie tins in the grocery store, and used this recipe. The result? Pretty amazing, actually! The blueberries were fresh, at least (but flown in from California). I was left wondering why you don’t see blueberry pie on more menus around these parts. I probably could have gobbled the whole thing up in two minutes, but we did have that chocolate cake waiting. @#$! timing.
- Best Blueberry Pie Ever (cupofsass.wordpress.com)