Considering the recent surge of strawberry recipes you probably assume I’m a strawberry fiend. Not true. Strawberries are a sign of spring, summer and harvest to come. I coo over them not because of love, but because what they represent and what will soon follow. Cherries are my true love. It pains me to see out of season cherries. Occasionally I’ll succumb to the pressure of deep red foreign cherries, toying with my eyes and stomach. My gluttony is rewarded with sourness and lack of flavor. Cherries are only good when ripe. Fresh and ripe. Off the farm ripe, not early picked and intended to ripen over the 3000 mile journey from California ripe.
I spotted cherries last Friday for the first time. I know they’ve been around for a few weeks, but not at the markets I’ve been visiting. I bought two quarts without even thinking. I was sure that by Sunday afternoon they would be plenty gone. Yet as Sunday night rolled around I found myself with nearly a full quart still intact. I was too lazy to can (that’s this weekend’s project) so baking was my first course of action. Recipes that would help me start and end the day with a burst of cherries. Muffins and crumble were the obvious solution.
Moist lemony cake envelop hearty chunks of cherries. Honey replaces the sugar, giving the muffins a more natural sweetness and letting the subtle tartness of the cherries shine through. The raw almonds add a bit of crunch to add texture and balance. I have to admit, as much as I love cherries, pitting them is not a step I look forward. So I make sure any and every cherry creation I make is perfection, The laborious chore does not go unrewarded.
Lemon Cherry Muffins with Almond Crumbs (Makes 12)
- 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
- 1/2 c whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon powder
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 c honey
- Splash of vanilla
- 1/4 c canola oil
- 1 c buttermilk
- 1 c cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 c sliced or chopped almonds
Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat muffin tin with cooking spray. In a medium bowl sift flours, baking powder, salt and lemon powder. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat eggs and honey on medium speed until pale yellow. Add vanilla, oil and buttermilk. Mix until combined. Add flour mixture all at once and beat on low until just combined. Stir in cherries by a hand with a few swift strokes.
Spoon batter into muffin tin cups, filling almost entirely. Sprinkle with almonds, pressing into batter a bit so they stay.
Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
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