Harry Potter, immortalized in butter.

Last night, I was chatting with a friend who’s been meditating. She said her hierarchy of mind clearing activities is writing, meditating, running. I don’t always think of writing as mind clearing, but it is. In place of meditation, I would put yoga. And running does the trick for me. So does baking.

This morning I went to get some muffins from the freezer and discovered that I had to make new ones. What! Yes. This is cause for celebration, unless I’ve managed to get dangerously low on some vital ingredient and then have to improvise or try to get S out of bed to make a corner store run for me.

I don’t use a recipe anymore, but I adapted my basic plan from the blueberry muffin recipe in the Martha Stewart Baking book. A lot of muffin recipes operate in this way: you pour all the liquid ingredients (including melted butter) into a well you form in the dry ingredients, mix, and voila! I experimented with different elements in this procedure but just wasn’t ever thrilled with the texture. The MS recipe requires creaming the butter and sugar in a mixer until it’s fluffy, which produces an effect I’m much happier with. I don’t use blueberries very often. I prefer jam, like strawberry or raspberry. And I top the muffins with a crumble that’s a bit like shortbread (1 cup flour, 1 cup powdered sugar, ½ cup butter, pinch of salt).

Anyhoo. This morning, by chance, I discovered that I’m not the only one out there who likes to use salted butter in baking. All manner of baking guides decry this practice, in part because the vagaries of manufacturing per butter brand means that recipes can’t uniformly adjust the salt you need to add in proportion to the amount already in the butter, or some such thing. But I like salty things, damn it. I especially love shortbread with noticeable sea salt in it. Perhaps I need to move to France, where, I’ve learned, supermarkets sell beurre demi sel, butter with sea salt.

Of course, I could take a less drastic approach and hither me to the gourmet market here, where they might have something similar.


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