Monday, July 19, 2010

Blueberry muffins

Fresh out of the oven

I went blueberry-picking for the first time yesterday, intent on getting some more farm-fresh fruit for my baking endeavors ('cause farm-fresh really makes a lot of difference as far as flavor is concerned). It was mission accomplished, and then some -- we walked away with a total of more than 3 quarts of berries, plenty for me to put up in the freezer to go in cobbler or pie or, well, who knows? Maybe even cupcakes.

But I left one pint out in the fridge, 'cause I knew I had to start with the one dish everyone thinks of when they think of blueberries and baking: Blueberry muffins.

I had intended to use the recipe in Bakewise, 'cause I own a copy and haven't made a single thing out of it yet. But sadly, the book will have to keep waiting, 'cause I had the idea to look up the "Cook's Illustrated" recipe, and their recipes are almost always good, plus, theirs looked way less complicated than the one in Bakewise (I love Shirley Corriher, but damn, her recipes are fussy). I found the "Cook's Illustrated" recipe online, but it, too, seemed a bit fussy -- make jam, just to make muffins? Then, I poked around online a bit and figured it out: They were only doing this because their recipe was created for store-bought berries, which tend to have a lot less flavor. Surely, I wouldn't need to go to such trouble with berries fresh off the bush.

Still, it did call for a lot of bowls, at least five different bowls of prepped ingredients. But ah, well, that's what dishwashers are for, right? And the results were delicious -- they were a touch berry-heavy for me (I probably could've used fewer, since the ones I used were so flavorful), but the lemon-sugar topping provides contrast and keeps the berry flavor from being overwhelming.

Lemon sugar and floured blueberries Ready to go in the oven
Time to eat

Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from a "Cook's Illustrated" recipe reprinted at The Bitten Word
1/3 c sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 c blueberries (1 pint)
1 1/8 c sugar
2 1/2 c flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 c buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 12-muffin pan with nonstick spray.
2. Zest the lemon and mix the zest with 1/3 c sugar. Set aside.
3. Place the butter in a small bowl, microwave until melted and set aside.
4. Rinse and dry your blueberries, then place them in a bowl with a little bit of flour and toss gently to coat. Set aside. (This will keep the berries from sinking to the bottom of your muffins when they're baked.)
5. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
6. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 1/8 c sugar. (FYI, 1/8 c is 2 tbsp.) Add the melted butter and the oil and whisk to combine. Whisk in the vanilla, then the buttermilk.
7. Stir the flour mixture into the liquids until just moistened -- batter will be a bit lumpy, and this is fine, don't overmix.
8. Fold in the blueberries.
9. Spoon or scoop the batter into the muffin cups; batter should completely fill the cups and mound slightly. Sprinkle the lemon sugar evenly over the tops.
10. Bake 17-19 minutes, until golden and just firm. (I used the toothpick test on mine, even though the recipe didn't say to, and they were done at around 17 minutes.)
11. Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then cool on rack for at least 5 minutes before eating. (Note: When I de-panned mine, they were so moist and berry-filled that they wouldn't stand on the rack without collapsing into the rack wires. I'd advise cooling them upside-down, 'cause the tops are firmer and can take the weight better.)

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