The weather is perfect here today in Michigan on this first day of summer. Sunny with a nice breeze and temperatures in the mid-70’s. It’s a welcome relief after a week of stiflingly humid weather, the kind where you feel like you are swimming through the air rather than breathing it.
When we moved back six months ago after five years on the West Coast, we had many, many kind people ask us, with raised eyebrows, why we would go back to somewhere with such cold winters. Why would anyone subject themselves to such extreme temperature fluctuations? But I love having seasons, I would reply. I love the leaves turning in the fall and raking them into giant piles begging to be jumped in. I love snowshoeing in the winter, with blinding sunlight reflecting off the snow. I love watching my kids jump in puddles after a spring thunderstorm. But when it was close to ninety degrees for nearly a week and the compressor on our air conditioner died and I really wanted to turn my oven on since I was trying to start a food blog or something, I found myself asking…. Do I? Do I really, truly love this season of summer?
Of course I do. I love going up north, being on a boat and feeling the wind in my (short) hair. I love being home with my kids, exploring parks and pretending the mulched area in the side yard is Moana’s raft. I love the familiar smell of sunscreen mingled with sweat. And I especially love all of the fresh fruit that starts showing up at the market, and experimenting with new ways to serve it.
My daughters have a particular fondness for stone fruit. Peaches, plums, apricots; they will grab them while I’m not looking at the store and walk up to me, arms overflowing, with that expectant/pleading look I can’t say no to. I am partial to the nectarine, with its smooth jewel-red skin and perfect combination of tart and sweet flavors. We eat them raw by the pound, but I wanted to try something more special.
Our mornings are less hectic now that none of us have to get to school on time. This makes our usual breakfast routine of bagel/yogurt cup/snack bar feel needlessly hasty, so I set out to make breakfast muffins that are healthy enough to eat on a weekday and delicious enough to seem like an indulgence.
The brown sugar combines with the nectarine to create a complexly sweet and tart flavor, and the nectarine chunks make them insanely moist. So delicious, in fact, that a toddler bandit might try to sneak one while your head is turned. I accidentally left half of the batch out uncovered overnight, and they were still tender and moist the next day. I sprinkled a little more brown sugar on top before baking for crunch and color, but you could skip it and still have a delicious breakfast treat. They keep well for several days, if you can keep them from being eaten that long.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
- ¾ cup brown sugar plus more for optional topping
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup plain yogurt (I used low-fat)
- 2 nectarines, chopped
- Preheat oven to 400° and butter 18 muffin cups.
- Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
- In a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat butter until smooth and creamy, about one minute. Add brown sugar and continue to beat for two minutes more. Turn mixer to low and add egg, mixing until combined. Add yogurt and mix until combined.
- With mixer on low, add dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Don’t over-mix!
- With a rubber spatula, stir in nectarines.
- Spoon mixture into muffin tins. I added enough to just fill each cup. Bake for 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool in the muffin tins for five minutes, then cool completely on a cooling rack.