Thursday, March 25, 2010

Steamed Strawberry Muffins

Shun means "in season" in Japanese, and it is an important concept in Japanese food culture.  When foods are shun, they are at their best.  Shun ingredients offers the most intense and desirable flavors possible.  Good or bad, we are living in the world where most fruits and vegetables are available all year round.  It's nice to have a large variety of food all the time, but it makes it hard  to appreciate the seasonality.  The last time I was at Wegmans, my favorite grocery store, I purposefully looked for shun ingredients, and the first thing I picked up was a pack of strawberries.  They were bright in color and looked fresh and juicy.  Strawberries are good by them selves, but they are even better when dipped in sweetened condensed milk.  The combination of tart strawberries and rich /creamy condensed milk is just perfect!  I wanted to have them on my lunch break.  But then, carrying condensed milk sounded like a recipe for disaster.  The sticky milk could make a huge mess in my lunch bag, and that's not pretty.  Should I take the risk, or should I be safe?  Mmmm....  A foodie's dilemma.  Then I had an idea!  What if I put these two ingredients together in one muffin?  That solves the problem.  The muffins came out pillowy soft.  The strawberries were still juicy and tart, and there was milkiness from the condensed milk.  The red strawberry chunks looked pretty on the whitish base.  You can certainly bake them instead of steaming.  If you bake them, the cakes will be more golden in color, which is good too.  Try both and let me know which you like better!

Steamed Strawberry Muffins Print Recipe

1/3 cupsugar
1/2 cupregular oil
1/3 cupsweetened condensed milk

1 tspbaking powder
1/2baking soda
1 1/2 cupcake flour

1 1/2 cupchopped strawberries


  1. Preparation: Place baking cups in ramekins or small sauce bowl.  Boil water in a steam pot.  If you do not have a steam pot, use a wide pot with a lid. Fill it with a small amount of water, about 1 inch deep, and bring to a boil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the first four ingredients with a hand mixer or whisk until everything is well mixed.  Sprinkle baking powder and baking soda and mix in.  Add cake flour and mix with spatula until incorporated.  Fold in strawberries.
  3. Add the mixture to the prepared cups.  Place the cup in the steamer, or, if you are using regular pot, place the cup directly in the boiling water. Placing a coin under the ramekins will prevent the cups making a lot of noise due to boiling.  Steam for 12~18 minutes over low to medium heat.  Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick near the center. If it comes out clean, it's done. Take out the muffins, a from the ramekins and cool on a rack. Repeat until all the muffins are done.  

  Yields 12