Buttermilk batters yield lovely soft bakes with moist, tender crumbs and a mellow zing that is very satisfying, especially when paired with fruit. The science behind this is that the acidity of the buttermilk inhibits the gluten and reacts with the rising agents to produce a lighter, more voluminous result.

I came across this recipe for strawberry buttermilk muffins on the website for US-based berry-grower, Driscoll’sΒ (if you’re mad for berries in all their culinary incarnations, I guarantee this site will have you salivating all over your Pinterest boards).

With the addition of mixed spice and a sugar crust, these muffins are big on flavour without a hint of stodginess and I can never stop at eating just one in a single sitting.

Strawberry and Buttermilk Muffins

(Adapted ever-so-slightly from Driscoll’s)
For the sugar crust:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice

For the batter:

  • 2 and 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chopped strawberries tossed with 1/4 cup of flour

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Mix sugar crust ingredients together and sprinkle over the bottoms of a lined muffin pan.
If you’re not lining the pan, coat the receptacles with butter and then sprinkle over the sugar mixture.
Reserve the remaining sugar for sprinkling over the tops of the muffins.

Prepare the batter by sifting together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and mixed spice.
Cut the butter into the mixture by using a pastry blender (or two knives) or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer on low speed, until the butter pieces have mixed into the dry ingredients to form small crumbs.
Whisk the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla together in a small bowl.
Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring until just combined. The batter will be lumpy.
Gently fold the floured strawberries into the batter.

Fill muffin tins to the top and sprinkle with a generous amount of the reserved sugar crust mixture.
Bake for 15 minutes and rotate the pan for even browning.
Bake further (around 10 more minutes) until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.