The days are getting shorter. The colors keep getting brighter and more beautiful - the peak is coming pretty soon - a few more days, I think. The weather has been so beautiful - Indian summer at its finest. I've been thinking about the fleetingness of life.
My baby, who recently turned two, spent his first two mornings without us at his little Waldorf nursery school, much to his dismay. His teacher, Miss Nancy, who is very sweet, held him the whole time. I got there early to pick him up and when he saw me, he reached for me and began that hiccupy kind of cry that happens when you've already been crying for a long time. "I want go home. Let's go home, mama, let's go home," he said. When I put him down for his nap a little later, he processed the experience by saying, "It's hard. Nancy pick me (up). Mommy Daddy always come back," over and over again. Heartbreaking is putting it mildly. Thank God his dad is willing to handle dropping him off - I am not sure I could do it. His babyhood is coming to a close.
But to put this little heartbreak into perspective, my beloved aunt, Maggie, who I've written about before, just found out that her lymphoma has come back again a third time. It's not good. My mom-in-law went to be with her and brought back a big bag of plums that they'd picked together at an orchard near Maggie's house.
What to do at a time like this? All I could think to do was bake. And it somehow felt right to turn Maggie's plums into something comforting and delicious.
I set up on the picnic table on the deck because I needed more space and light than our little kitchen offers. Also, it was a warm, gray, fall afternoon and I wanted to be outside with the smells and the crickets chirping and the leaves falling. The kids "helped" me pit the plums for a little while before losing interest and heading off to their respective tricycles.
I decided to add cardamom (it's the sort of gray looking spice in this photo, the browner one is cinnamon) because I think the flavor goes beautifully with the sweet-sour of the plums.
The recipe calls for browned butter - I'm not sure if I really browned it but it definitely smelled nutty and wonderful and I was in a rush, as usual.
I love sour cream in baked goods - it adds a wonderful softness and richness to them. And I needed to use up the container we had because our fridge is on the fritz and has developed this charming habit of freezing everything.
Once the batter was all assembled, I folded in the plums and mixed briefly to distribute them.
These took longer to bake than I'd expected and I was late to dinner as a result but the delay was worth it the next morning when I devoured one of these lightly toasted muffins with my coffee. Soft, spiced, just the right amount of sweetness and with a lovely fruity, slightly sour flavor from the plums.
Make a batch of these and tell the people you love that you love them. And then give them a big squeeze while you can.
This recipe is loosely adapted from the recipe plum poppy seed muffins in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook- Deb has lots of great things in there if you're looking for inspiration.
adapted from Deb Perelman's recipe for plum poppy seed muffins in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Makes 12 muffins
* 2 cups pitted and diced plums, any variety
* 6 Tbsps unsalted organic butter, melted, browned and cooled, plus butter for muffin cups
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten (try to get pasture-raised eggs from a farmer near you)
* 1/4 cup granulated organic sugar
* 1/4 cup packed organic brown sugar
* 3/4 cup organic sour cream (you can substitute full fat plain yogurt but the sour cream is better)
* 1/2 cup organic whole wheat flour
* 1 cup organic white flour
* 3/4 tsp baking powder
* 3/4 tsp baking soda
* 1/4 tsp sea salt
* 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
* 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease your muffin tin well with butter (I really hate when my muffins get stuck and I have to mangle them to get them out.)
2. Whisk the egg and the sugars in a large bowl. Stir in the butter and then the sour cream. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg, then stir them into the wet ingredients until it is just combined and still a bit lumpy. Fold in the plums and stir briefly to distribute them.
3. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin - you should have enough to fill each cup to the top, more or less. Bake for 18-25 minutes (Deb's original recipe calls for just 15-18 minutes but mine took more like half an hour so check around 18 minutes just in case but don't be surprised if it takes longer), until the tops are golden brown and a clean knife or toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the tin for a few minutes then gently unmold them and let them cool fully on a wire rack and enjoy. These are especially delicious toasted with a little butter or cream cheese.
You might also like:
- Apricot Ginger Scones
- Rustic Plum Tart
- Melt-In-Your-Mouth Banana Nut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins (Gluten & Dairy-Free)