Over the weekend, my kitchen—usually a storm of activity—was, for the most part, quiet. Kevin and I celebrated his birthday by spending Saturday night in Milwaukee, where the Cubs were playing the Brewers. So, while we ate plenty of delicious things and drank our fair share of the beverage for which Milwaukee is known, we didn’t do much cooking. But I had grand plans for a Sunday birthday cake project once we got back to Chicago. We even had the perfect recipe picked out.
But, by the time we got home on Sunday, neither of us had the heart for making or eating a decadent birthday cake. The sun was shining and beckoning us out into the day, so we walked, we jogged and we even opened the windows while we unpacked. Time slipped away and with it went all hopes for the birthday cake.
I did, on a whim, whip up a batch of muffins though. I used this basic recipe, swapping out the lemon and ginger flavors for dried cherries and almond extract—a combination that I love. And Kevin’s already happily munched his way through a couple of them, sprinkling me with compliments along the way. And, I have to say, I agree. They’ve got a great open, light crumb and they’re deeply almondy, each bite studded with the chew and tartness of plump dried cherries.
I’m still feeling a little guilty about the lack of birthday cake, so perhaps we’ll have to stick a candle into one of these muffins and put it behind us.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plain yogurt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cherries
raw or sanding sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 375. Line 12-cup muffin tin with muffin/cupcake liners.
In one large bowl, whisk together the flour through salt. In another large bowl, whisk together the yogurt through vanilla. Toss the cherries in a tablespoon of the flour mixture. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Fold in the cherries.
Divide the batter between the 12 muffin liners. Sprinkle each muffin with sugar.
Bake 20 to 23 minutes, until puffed and just golden around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.