As autumn properly gets under way, the blackberry season draws to a close. I thought I’d have one more blackberry recipe on the blog before moving on to more autumnal/wintry food. Blackberries are the perfect addition to these muffins, which are not very sweet and can be used as a breakfast muffin. Blackberries grow on the bramble shrub (which is related to the rose) in hedgerows, woodlands and meadows across Britain and in many other countries across Europe, Asia and the Americas. There are over 2000 species worldwide, and 330 species of bramble in the UK alone. Humans have been eating them for thousands of years, and archaeologists have found blackberry seeds in human waste dating back as far as 8000 BC. Like raspberries, blackberries are technically not actually a berry – they are an aggregate fruit made up of small drupelets (basically a fleshy outer part which surrounds seeds). The fruits are made without fertilisation. Hence, some species remain extremely localised, which explains why they can differ so much in taste.
Blackberries have numerous health benefits. They are full of vitamins and antioxidants which helps protect against cancer, and have both a low sodium and calorie count. Blackberry fruits, leaves, bark and roots were used by the Romans and Greeks for treating numerous health conditions such as gout. This method was also popular Europe in the 18th century, and the blackberry became known as the ‘gout berry’. During the American Civil War, blackberry tea was used to cure dysentery, and it was reported that more than one ceasefire was called sothat both sides could pick blackberries.
Blackberries are, according to folklore, also the ‘Devil’s Fruit’! It is said that when the Devil was cast out of heaven by St Micheal he landed on a bramble bush and cursed it and spat on it. Because of this, blackberries become unpallatable after St Michael’s Day (or Michaelmas), which is September 29th, and you should not pick them after this date! It became custom to make a Michaelmas pie using the last blackberries of the season.
Blackberries span summer and the beginning of autumn. They are therefore extremely versatile, and they can be adapted accordingly. For example, they can be added to fresh fruit salads, baked in cakes and pies, or made into preserves and wine. They go perfectly in these muffins, which are not too sweet and can be used as a breakfast muffin. These muffins have no butter, instead using yogurt and vegetable oil, making them a slightly healthier alternative to many other muffins. I personally much prefer homemade muffins to those you can buy in shops (and which can be nearing 500 calories), and hopefully this recipe will inspire you to make some too.
- 250g flour
- 2tsp baking powder
- 80g sugar
- 120ml yogurt
- 125ml vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 125g blackberries
- Pre-heat the oven to 200c and line a muffin tin
- Mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl
- In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg, then whisk in the oil and yogurt
- Tip the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just combined
- Fold in about 2/3 of the blackberries
- Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and place the remaining blackberries on the top
- Bake for 12-15 minutes
- Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack