To my friends celebrating Easter this weekend, I really did have best intentions of writing about favorite recipes from the archives. Some from Easters past, from my former life, and some that’ve no particular connection to Easter but would’ve been wonderful to make and share with those you’re hunkered down with at the moment. What I did manage to create, though, is this Passover blueberry muffin recipe that’s more aligned with where my life is now.
Rest assured, I still enjoy many of my old Easter favorite. Even though we no longer celebrate any of the Catholic holidays, I’ve many fond memories of meals prepared. A few favorite recipes if you read this in time and still need some inspiration are my Italian Easter Bread, Pizza di Ricotta Dolce, Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Pie and Lemon Meringue Pie.
I devoted two solid days this week to celebrating Passover, and that was a really necessary time for our family. As many of you know (I think?), we fully embraced my late husband’s Jewish culture. I know lots of mixed faith families that integrate both, and my feeling is you do what works for your family. For me, Catholicism held no strong hold on my heart or mind, and the more I delved into Judaism, I realized it wasn’t that I was a person of no faith—I’d just been indoctrinated into one where I never felt a sense of belonging.
Blueberry muffins delicious for every day but Passover-friendly.
I’ve had many conversations with Matthew about how I think it makes more sense to make decisions about religion as an adult, when we’re better formed to look at it under a microscope and ask the necessary questions, both of ourselves and of the particular religion itself. Judaism has an extra layer, at least for me, because of the inherent history of the Jewish people being marginalized time and again. One simple twist of fate, and my husband would’ve never existed, nor would our children. I firmly believe it’s my responsibility for them to understand the history of their heritage and the great responsibility with which it carries.
I do this for myself as well as them because the deeper I go, the more I find to love about Judaism. Maybe it’s kismetic that my two greatest loves happen to be Jewish men from New York City?
This morning I found myself wide awake at 3:45am. By 5am I figured it was time to call sleep a loss, and start the day. I read the news a bit, did some writing, then decided to put a recipe to paper that had been on my mind since yesterday. Blueberry muffins. But these are no ordinary blueberry muffins. They’re Passover blueberry muffins.
What’s make them different you might be asking? Well, for the eight days of Passover we can’t use flour. Some very conservative Jews feel kosher for Passover baking powder is permissible since they’re not fermented in the way yeast is or flour could become when mixed with water (think about the sourdough starter process, and that’ll make more sense). Personally, knowing that baking powder’s sole purpose is to leaven baked goods, it feels inherently contradictory to the spirit of Passover to use it (again, this is a moment for you to do what works for you if you’re observing).
For me, the lack of flour and baking powder calls for some creativity, and I rather love the challenge. Making a muffin that is not dense is nothing short of a miracle when no leavening agent is used. Alas, it is possible and dare I say, better than a lot of muffins I’ve been subjected to in my lifetime!
So many, in fact most, Passover muffin recipes call for almond flour—but not this recipe.
Passover cake meal is key here. If you don’t have any, just blitz some matzah meal (or whole sheets of matzah) in the food processor until they’re super fine. You’ll also need potato starch. I used melted butter since there was no concern of mixing dairy and meat at breakfast this morning. Feel free to use a neutral oil instead if you prefer.
Another trick for getting the rise without a traditional leavening agent is separating your eggs. The yolks go into the batter, and the whites get whipped until light, fluffy stiff peaks form. Once the batter is mixed up the whipped whites get folded in, in turn aerating the batter. I’m kind of excited to try this method once Passover is finished to see how it works with regular flour and corn starch. If anyone is curious, just swap in equal amounts of flour and corn starch for the cake meal and potato starch.
I hope you’re all doing well, and managing best you can under the circumstances. Many hugs and peace.
Passover Blueberry Muffins
- 3 large eggs, separated
- ½ cup (1 stick - 112 grams) butter, melted (or use neutral oil)
- ¾ cup (150 grams) vanilla sugar (see tip)
- 1 tablespoon milk or water
- ½ cup (75 grams) matzoh cake meal
- ¼ cup (35 grams) potato starch
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus a pinch for beating egg whites
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ cup (90 grams) frozen blueberries, tossed in a bit of cake meal
- TIP: to make your own vanilla sugar, split a vanilla bean and tuck into a jar of sugar, and let sit for a day or two for the flavor to absorb.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat the bottom and sides of a 6-cup muffin tin with butter, then dust with cake meal (or use paper liners).
- Add the egg whites to a large bowl with a pinch of salt. Using a hand mixer (or stand mixer), beat egg whites on medium until frothy, then increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form; set aside.
- Add egg yolks, melted butter and vanilla sugar to a deep bowl; whisk until well blended. Add milk, cake meal, potato starch, salt and cinnamon, then whisk until just combined and there are no visible traces of cake meal or starch.
- Using a rubber spatula, stir in ⅓ of the whipped egg whites. Add remaining whipped egg whites to the bowl then, using the rubber spatula, gently fold in until combined.
- Gently fold in the blueberries.
- Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin (an ice cream scoop is great for this step!). Bake until muffins are deep golden and spring back when gently tapped, 30 to 35 minutes.