With so many of you having to stay home and cook for the first time — ever or more than you have in a long time — we get that it can be overwhelming to have to cook all your meals from scratch. So we’re here to get you started.
Each day we’re going to post a new skill here and go in detail about how to do it — a resource for cooking basics so you can get food on the table and get through this.
Lesson 11: Muffins
If you’re not baking right now, then what are you doing, really? Everyone’s doing it: all the cool kids, the nerdy kids, the jocks, their moms — even Naomi Campbell is giving it a shot! Cookies, loaf cakes and especially sourdough bread — the quarantine has turned many “I never cook” people into Instagram bakers.
But when it comes to isolation baking, I’d much rather bake something I can pass off as semi-healthy, a confection that apes nutritiousness but keeps me from crying after I first wake up. Muffins are the answer because muffins are just cake with a different name that you can unapologetically eat all day long. For me, only the blueberry variety will do — besides the occasional masochistically virtuous bran muffin, do any of the others matter? (OK, GGET’s vegan strawberry muffins are pretty wonderful too.)
To mitigate the fact that I am willfully and gleefully eating cake for breakfast, I pack it full of fruit. My muffins are mostly berries with just enough batter to glue them together. But they’re not dense like those plastic-wrapped monsters you get at the grocery store. The batter is made with cornstarch — a neat trick to approximate cake flour, which no one actually owns — which keeps the crumb feather-light. It is barely sweet and scented with small amounts of ground cinnamon and almond extract, which you don’t taste outright but help accent the unique aroma of the blueberries themselves.
The only finishing touch is a sprinkle of sugar on top, which melts in the the oven to produce a crackling-like sugar brittle that contrasts perfectly with the muffin’s moist berries and fluffy inside. This cup-shaped cake is a healthy way to start my day: Right now, that is what I’m telling myself, and I won’t be convinced otherwise. It’s fake news I need to believe in.