3cupsflourall-purpose white flour OR whole wheat pastry flour OR half of each
1/2cup(1 stick) buttersoftened
2cupsmixed berriessuch as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and/or blackberries, fresh OR frozen
Sparkling sugarfor sprinkling on top (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Work in the softened butter with an electric mixer or fork, until butter is in tiny bits, similar to coarse sand. Blend in the eggs, milk, and vanilla until all ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. Gently fold in the berries.
In a small bowl, mix together softened cream cheese and 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar until smooth and blended. Set aside.
Scoop a heaping tablespoon of batter into each prepared muffin cup, adding just enough that the bottom of the muffin liner is covered. Add a small dollop (about a teaspoon) of cream cheese mixture to the center of each muffin cup. Top cream cheese with another spoonful of batter, evenly dividing the remaining batter between the muffin cups. If desired, sprinkle the top of each muffin with sparkling sugar.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until muffins just test done with a toothpick, taking care not to overbake. Remove muffins from pans and cool on a wire rack, or eat warm out of the oven.
I've had good results baking this recipe with both white flour and whole wheat pastry flour, or a combo of the two. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour is 100% whole wheat, but it lends quick breads a lighter taste and texture, more akin to that achieved by using white flour.
I always like to make sure that the eggs and milk are somewhat at room temperature so that they don't chill the butter and cause little lumps when I mix them in.
If you use frozen berries, don't thaw them first....doing so will just make them all mushy.