Back to school with Ann’s peach muffins

If my high school yearbook had done this sort of thing, I probably would have been Voted Most Likely to Never Leave Home. It’s quite a mystery then how, nine years ago, I ended up halfway across the country on the steps of Chown Hall residence at Queen’s University. Having never visited the city or campus and being the only one from my British Columbia high school graduating class of 800+ there, it was a character-building leap of faith to say the least.

As gregarious people who love nothing more than chatting up friends or strangers, my parents are well-suited to staying at bed and breakfasts when they travel. Always one to plan ahead, my mom researched B&Bs in Kingston and booked us rooms at Ann’s B&B (sight unseen) for our inaugural trip/my move in late August 1997. We arrived to find a gracious host, her sole companion a large saliva-producing beast with a penchant for hanging around the breakfast table. Don’t get me wrong: I like dogs and I like food, just not together (a conviction shared by mom and less so by W., I believe). It wasn’t clear to me how this was going to work out.

But that Ann, she was crafty. Sensing our uncertainty and speculating that the way to our hearts was through our stomachs, she pulled out all the stops in a (successful) bid to win us over. We arose the next morning to the scent of fresh Peach Muffins. One bite of that fluffy white goodness with juicy chunks of peach and we barely noticed the dog drool on our freshly ironed khakis.

Four years later, I graduated with shorter hair, wider hips, sleep deprivation, new friends, a future husband and funny ideas in my head. Not to mention a great recipe for peach muffins.

Exactly one week from now, I will be making the trek from Ottawa to Kingston, Ontario for Queen’s University Homecoming Weekend and my 5-year reunion. What better way to commemorate the occasion than with a batch of Ann’s peach muffins?

Back to school, indeed.

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 - 2 1/2 cups fresh peaches, coarsely chopped

Topping (optional):
1/8 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup sugar (I used brown instead of white)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease muffin tin or mould. (I used a silicone muffin mould and still lightly greased it with butter.)

In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Add vanilla and beat to blend. In a small bowl, mix baking powder, salt and flour.

Fold about half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Mix using a spoon or spatula, then add half of the buttermilk. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk. Stir just until blended; do not overmix. Add the peaches to the batter and mix gently.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tin or mould and sprinkle with the topping (optional). Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. The muffins will not necessarily be golden on top.

Yields 12 small muffins or 9 large muffins.