This past Wednesday, I had plenty of blackberries left in the fridge and not enough appetite for blackberry oatmeal or blackberry yogurt breakfasts. I searched my favorite recipe site Food52.com and found retro black berry muffins. The author of the recipe cites the “Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book” from 1955. I was curious to discover if the muffins from the 1950s were any different, so I set the oven to preheat and got to work!
Here’s a look at the fresh blackberries that I chopped
Next I mixed the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. I could already tell at this point that this muffin had the makings of something much denser than my 21st century muffins.
Yup, much, much thicker than usual. I should add here that the recipe called for a long-lost ingredient – shortening. Does anyone really keep that on hand anymore? Can you still find it in stores? Ah well, I read up on it and found that I could substitute oil for melted shortening, but that I should expect a different (read not ideal) texture.
I kept mixing until everything was just incorporated and then divided it into a muffin pan. This step was a rather sticky event.
I popped the pan into my preheated oven, and fretted over the small amount of sugar in the recipe. Only 2 tablespoons! These
muffins dough balls were becoming bland, dense bricks in the oven. I had to think of something quick. I threw together a maple soaked oatmeal crumble topping and spread it on the muffins. Unfortunately half of the baking time had already passed by the time I did this, so the topping did not stick very well to the tops of the muffins.
When the timer went off the muffins looked and smelled done, but the topping looked like it would just fall off when I took them out of the pan. I popped them back in at a high temp for a short time hoping that could help seal the tops a bit more.
These 1950s blackberry biscuits (definitely cannot call them muffins) were okay. As expected, they were a bit more dense and dry. The topping helped, but it did crumble off a bit. The next morning I served them warm with a bit of syrup and half a banana. I figured every biscuit is better with gravy, so maybe the blackberry variety is better with syrup. It was. Chris had two.
I wouldn’t call my trip to cooking’s past a complete success, but it gave us a quick snack/breakfast for a few mornings. I also had two just before my run this morning. They gave me the perfect amount of energy. I might try to play around with the recipe a bit more, or I might keep my focus on muffins from the here and now. Either way it was a fun journey and now I know what a 1950s muffin tastes like.