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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Blueberry Muffins

Two Saturdays ago, half of my lab had to go into work for a big radioactivity experiment. I had seen this Blueberry Muffin recipe in Cook's Illustrated and thought this was the perfect opportunity to try it out. Maybe because it was early on a Saturday, but I totally messed up making this recipe. In my defense, I think the directions could have been a tad more clear (I've amended the recipe below). Despite my errors, they turned out delicious! I'm sure they'd be even better made the right way :)

The idea behind this recipe, according to the author, is to have a blueberry muffin recipe that works with any kind of blueberry - even the 'watery supermarket kind.' To do this, she came up with a simple jam that you swirl into the batter before baking. She also provided a few options for topping the muffins. I went with the lemon-sugar as listed in the original recipe, but I'd love to try the streusel topping next!
Best Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

For the Lemon-Sugar Topping:
1/2 cup (2 1/3 ounces) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon

For the Muffins:
2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh blueberries, picked over*
1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk**
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*To use frozen blueberries, substitute 2 cups frozen blueberries for fresh. Cook 1 cup berries as directed in step 3. Rinse remaining cup berries under cold water and dry well. In step 4, toss dried berries in flour mixture before adding egg mixture.

**If buttermilk is unavailable, substitute 3/4 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk. I made my own buttermilk by adding 1 Tablespoon white vinegar to 1 cup of skim milk.

Make the topping:
1. Stir together sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl until combined; set aside.
Make the muffins:
2. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat to 425F. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. I used a silicon muffin pan with muffin liners.

3. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.

5. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together until thick and homogenous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined.

6. Using a rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. Batter will be very lumpy with a few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.

7. Use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups. Batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly.

8. Spoon a teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into the center of each mound of batter. Using a chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle lemon-sugar evenly over muffins. Try not to sprinkle evenly over pan like I did - I was in a hurry :)
9. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer too wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

Streusel Topping

Follow Best Bleuberry Muffin recipe, omitting Lemon-Sugar Topping. Prepare streusel by combining 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar, 3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar, a pinch of table salt, and 1/2 cup plus 3 Tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour in a small bowl. Drizzle with 5 Tablespoons warm, melted unsalted butter and toss with a fork until evenly moistened and misture forms large chunks and some pea-sized pieces throughout. Proceed with recipe as directed, sprinkle streusel topping over muffins before baking.

Source: Adapted from Cook's Illustrated


  1. I make a blueberry muffin w/ streusel topping-it's my family's fave. But, I love the combo of lemon and blueberry, so I'll be trying the lemon sugar topping!

  2. Wow, these look so awesome! Yummy.

  3. Yum- these look divine. Blueberry muffins are a favorite around here!

  4. I have this recipe printed out and have yet to make it. Looks yummy

  5. Awww, that was so sweet of you to bring in muffins for your lab! I love blueberries muffins and the addition of lemon-sugar topping sounds fantastic!

  6. Will you marry me? Or, hrm, I mean, send me some muffins? I have a soft spot for blueberry muffins, they are my favorite kind. If this is what a mess up looks like, I'd love to see a success!

    Also, note that if one needs to improvise buttermilk, standard milk mixed with a tablespoon or so of plain white yogurt that is allowed to ripen at room temp. for a bit is a much closer substitute - it will have a very similar microbial makeup as yogurt contains the same bugs as cultured buttermilk. I often do this instead of buying a big old container of cultured buttermilk. I think the rule is 1 tbl per cup or so. Same thing goes for crème fraîche (mostly) excepting of course, for the use of cream instead of milk.

  7. The muffins look wonderful. I love blueberries, the more the merrier!

  8. I agree with Nick.....what was wrong with these muffins???? They look fantastic, and you can make them for me anytime. :) Even tho I am not a fan of too much lemon...I think it would complement the blueberries very well. I will try this recipe, for sure.

  9. Thanks everyone :)

    Nick - thanks for the tips on making buttermilk and creme fraiche. I was scrambling that morning to google a buttermilk substitute since I realized the buttermilk I had was past its expiration date!

    MOM - I will have to tell you what I did with this recipe...big time airhead move :)

  10. Wow! Those are the prettiest blueberry muffins I have ever seen!


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