Nothing draws me into the temptation of a baked treat more than the words “bakery-style”. Let me tell you. Mmmm. Bakery-style, to me, is an absolute necessity when I’m creating a recipe.
Everyone I’ve ever explored a new city with will tell you, without a blink of the eye, that I must stop in every bakery we pass by. It’s been that way for years, even during the year when I wouldn’t allow myself so little as a bite of anything. It’s still that way and thankfully, now I happily munch on at least two or three treats. That’s why you bring friends - more people to share in the experience, more opportunity to taste more foods without committing to just one thing. Just an FYI.
I scan every single glass case, gazing at the sugar-dusted croissants, the big-as-my-face cookies (the size I prefer), and the light-n’-fluffy, but moist-as-ever banana bread. My eyes give each beauty the time it deserves, and finally, they land directly on what every cupcake actually wants to be - the muffin. Compared to the demanding croissant, the muffin is much less needy, and to the overwhelming cookie, the muffin is far more humble, and to the banana bread… well, that’s a tough one to beat, but somehow the muffin wins.
When I used to join my mom on trips to the grocery store, which was almost always Sprouts Farmers Market (this sounds sponsored already, but it’s not - I promise), I’d guide us over to the baked goods section and shmooze my mom into letting me have a muffin. Lemon poppyseed was my go-to, as rare as the occasion may have been. Shmoozing was not and still is not my thing, so it’s a relief I can at least bake.
For half of my sophomore year in college, I interned with the Farmers Market manager in downtown SLO and every single week - every. single. week. - I’d pack a few extra dollars on the days I took the bus downtown to work because there just so happened to be a coffee shop next door that baked fresh everyday a handful of vegan and gluten-free muffins. You’d better believe the baristas knew my order as soon as I walked in the door. And - one of the best parts - they were the jumbo muffins! That size has become one of my essential criteria for bakery-style muffins. The other? The coarse decorative sugar that gets sprinkled on top. Of coarse. Get it?
During my time as the baker at Sally Loo’s, I gave as much of my heart as possible to the daily muffins - they, in my opinion, were the prettiest and tastiest, and I even experimented a little here and there with ingredient swaps to increase the nutritional value. Everyone loved the seasonal pumpkin, the oatmeal chocolate chip (it’s like a cookie and a muffin!), and the maple blueberry. I felt satisfied just by whipping up the liquid-gold batter and pulling the perfectly risen and crumb-topped muffins out of the oven everyday.
My favorite grocery stores, coffee shops, and bakeries are what they are to me because of their muffins. Well, there’s other things, too, but the muffins are the star of the show. And I think I am who I am as a baker because of muffins. If that sounds super deep and intense, that’s because it is. Now that my goal is to my open my own cafe/coffee shop, the recipes I post here and the ones I work on for my cookbook (still happening! I promise!) I take seriously and I consider how they’d do in that setting. When I’m testing a recipe, I ask myself if it’s up to cafe/coffee shop par.
So, ten years from now when I’m owning my own place that’s popping out fresh baked goods, the best espresso, and most delicious food, you might remember that I’ve been working towards all of that all along. And these muffins will most certainly be a staple on that menu.
Makes 6 jumbo muffins
1 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup whole milk kefir
1 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup avocado oil (or other neutral liquid oil), plus more for greasing
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 handfuls fresh blueberries
Coarse sprinkling sugar, for topping
Preheat the oven to 400F and lightly grease a jumbo muffin tin with avocado oil.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, kefir, coconut sugar, and avocado oil until smooth and well incorporated. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda, and spices. Gradually mix this into the wet ingredients, about 1/2 cup at a time. Once combined, fold in the chopped pecans and fresh blueberries.
Fill each muffin tin to the very top with batter and plop a couple extra blueberries on top, if you have extra. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of coarse sprinkling sugar on top of each muffin. Bake at 400F for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350F and bake for 18 more minutes.
Remove the muffin tin from the oven and allow them to cool for 30 minutes before removing them from the tin.
Serve immediately - my favorite is with greek yogurt and peanut butter, and sliced banana. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.