Winberry muffins

winberry muffins

 

If you go down the woods today…..

Or, indeed walk up a large hill, then you may well be in for a surprise. No bears having picnics (I hope) but bushes of these delicious little bursts of purpley goodness. My lovely friend and I try to take a walk each week. It’s always a great walk whatever the weather. We put the world to rights in an hour and a half. At the top of the hill you are always rewarded with a wonderful 360° view, whether that is cloud shrouded fields, or crops withering under a heat haze. But at this time of the year you are also rewarded with winberry bushes. There is a mass of them, covered in these tiny berries. They are time-consuming to pick and this is made slightly more difficult, but also more hilarious, by my friend’s dog cavorting through the bushes, stopping to hoover some of the berries up with his front teeth. You don’t get many in fifteen minutes of picking (unless you are a dog), but you get enough for a couple of batches of these muffins. So, well worth the purple stained fingers.

winberries

 

The winberry is a cousin of the blueberry but much smaller. It is known by lots of other names – bilberry, whortleberry, blaeberry, windberry, whinberry etc etc. They grow on nutrient poor acidic soil and my friend and I were discussing how amazing it is that on this windswept hill, which spends a fair amount of time under low slung cloud and takes the worst of the winter weather these little bushes thrive and produce these delicious fruits.

Please remember that if the land on which the winberry grows has an owner then you should ask their permission before foraging. Take only a few, leaving plenty for the birds and mammals which rely on them. Most importantly, make sure you know for certain that it is a winberry bush and not something poisonous.

Makes 12 mini muffins (fairy cake size) or 6 muffins.

150g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
25g caster sugar
1 egg
80g butter
200ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
80-100g winberries (or less if you haven’t managed to pick that many)

Method

When making muffins, lightness is key, so sift the flour and baking powder and don’t overmix.

Sift together the flour and the baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar gently. Make a well in the centre.

Melt the butter and add to the beaten egg, the milk and the vanilla extract in a jug.

Pour the liquid into the flour and mix very briefly. Add the winberries and mix just enough to distribute them.You should still have some lumps of flour.

Spoon into muffin cases in a patty tin. I used cupcake sized cases to make mini muffins and made 12 rather than 6 large ones.

Place in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 for 15-20 minutes. I took them out of the oven five minutes before they were ready and sprinkled demerara sugar on their tops and continued to cook until the muffins were golden brown. This gives them a slightly crunchy top.

half eaten winberry muffin

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14 responses to “Winberry muffins

  1. I am not a natural forager and wouldn’t be trusted. I’ve seen it written as whimberries too. The muffins look delicious.

    • I know what you mean Maggie, I get nervous about foraging too, hence warning people to be sure that they are picking winberries and not something else. My friend has picked them for years with her family from these particular bushes so I was sure that we were going to be OK.

  2. What a delicious reward after climbing that hill. They look great. Hope all is well.

  3. Well well, winberries. Who knew? Is that a southern name? I’m used to bilberries myself, and here in southern France ….. they’re not ripe yet. I usually go looking in August when I’m in Yorkshire, so you really are privileged to have them now.

    • I think you are right. My mum, of good West Midlands stock, calls them bilberries but my friend (whom I picked them with) is of Cornish heritage so winberries they have become. She was surprised to see them ready too as she remembers picking them in August/ September in previous years. I have had my delivery of cherries from my friend today and they are delicious – hooray!

  4. Gosh – I’ve never seen any of these growing wild, and I wish I did, cos they can be a bit pricey to buy from Waitrose! Me and the mister had a picnic by the river yesterday but his Eccles Cake and my Shortbread (from the Baker) were not as nice as your yummy looking muffin! xCathy

    • Yes, our nearest supermarket seems to be very ready to change the price of blueberries, sometimes making them £1 more expensive a punnet than the previous week. This makes these particularly special. Sorry to hear your eccles and shortbread didn’t live up to expectations. A picnic my the river sounds very good though.

  5. Oh I am so impressed Kath, I have never picked a great bowl full of bilberries before. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a big enough patch. We usually munch as we go along, but only get a small handful if we are lucky.

    I’ve not heard them called winberries before – what does that say about my Cornish routes!!! I like the name though.

    • I was hoping you would be able to confirm the winberry thing for me. I shall have to ask my friend more about it. It is a good name isn’t it? It calls to mind a rural idyll in which people spend all day picking winberries.

  6. We used to go picking bilberries with picnics when I was a nipper. But I’m not sure where I’d go to find Bilberries now that I’d be interested in picking a bowl myself. I remember them being tastier than blueberries. We mostly used them in crumbles. So very much liking the – for me – retro feel to these muffins.

    Apologies for my lack of posts: I’ve been on slimming world & somehow it doesn’t really feel me to be blogging low fat recipes.

    Keep up the as ever excellent work. X

    • Well, I have missed you! How is swimming world? Is it working? I would have thought that the cycling/running would have negated the need. Slimming world is a lot more boring than the imagined round the world trip that I had you and Mrs VBB on. They are tastier than blueberries, definitely. I hope you will get back to posting soon, low fat or otherwise.

  7. These were amazing! I loved them still warm out of the oven. I used virgin coconut oil instead of butter because I am on a weight loss diet (it gets digested differently instead of being sent to the liver like oil). But frankly I ate so many of them I think my weight loss diet is null and void lol. SO delicious.

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