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blueberry muffins

October 2, 2010


So, I ran out of the banana-oatmeal-peanut butter muffins. And I need a reason to be excited when I wake up at 6:50, despite the fact that classes don’t start for another three hours.


I also love relatively simple recipes that are made unnecessarily complicated in the pursuit of perfection. Which is why Cook’s Illustrated is basically heaven on earth for me.


All of which explains why I found myself making these last Sunday. Plus, this recipe allows you to use frozen blueberries (well, okay, I’m sure pretty much every blueberry recipe would allow you to do that, but this one explicitly specifies that you can and even has a whole separate recipe for them), which meant I didn’t have to empty out my bank account in buying the supplies! Plus, I bought fancy frozen wild blueberries, which still cost about half as much as fresh ones would’ve. And they’re healthy! The bag said so!


Anyway, these are some quality blueberry muffins. I’m sure the blueberry flavor would’ve been bumped up a bit if I’d used fresh blueberries, but the cooked-down jam stuff swirled into the batter like a smurf coffee cake definitely helped in that area. The muffins themselves are really great, too—soft and fluffy, and they get a tasty crispy crust when I cut them in half and toast ‘em in the morning. I was a little worried at first, because I was really careful not to overmix these buggers and the batter seemed really liquidy with some weird, unidentifiable lumps in it. But it turns out that those lumps were probably just blueberries, and it was all okay. Also, I 1.5-ed the recipe to make 18 muffins so that I don’t have to make more breakfasts for another four weeks or so. So if you don’t want that many, uhhh…do the math.


The only thing I would change about the recipe is the rackage in the oven—the original called for the middle-top rack. Cook’s Illustrated tends to call for things like that inexplicably, and usually I blindly follow them, but this time, I think it resulted in a little bit of overcookage along the edges of the muffin tops (which get even more overcooked/burned when I toast them). Next time, I’m sticking with the middle rack.

Blueberry Muffins
Ingredients:
LEMON-SUGAR TOPPING [I skipped this part, since I probably don’t need a sugar crash during Contracts class]
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon
MUFFINS
3 cups frozen blueberries
1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3 3/4 cups flour
3 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:
1. For the topping, stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.
2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 18 standard muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. Bring 1 1/2 cups blueberries and 1 1/2 teaspoons 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 1/2 cup, about 8 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Rinse remaining 1 1/2 cups berries under cold water and dry well. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogenous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Toss dried blueberries in flour mixture. Then, using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture into blueberries and flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)
4. Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle sugar over muffins.
5. 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 to wire rack to cool.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated

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