Blueberry Muffins

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 05:59 pm
forchancookie: (Pickles Loves You)
[personal profile] forchancookie
My grandparents used to watch America's Test Kitchen a bunch when I lived with them and at some point I ended up signing up for their newsletter. I used to get at least one real recipe in the letter and a bunch of links to their site where they want you to sign up for a pricey membership. Since I was getting a recipe, I kept it, but lately you don't even get that. You get a link to a recipe or video that is available free for a short time and then they want you to pay again. I really should stop the emails but I've been lazy. Not to mention that of all the America's Test Kitchen recipes that I've tried, none of them have really delivered what they promised.

Regardless, I opened the most recent newsletter and it promised me the recipe for the Best Blueberry Muffins!



Blueberry muffins should be packed with blueberry flavor and boast a moist crumb. But too often the blueberry flavor is fleeting, thanks to the fact that the berries in the produce aisle have suffered from long-distance shipping. We wanted blueberry muffins that would taste great with blueberries of any origin, even the bland supermarket kind. Join Yvonne Ruperti as she shows Christopher Kimball how we found that overloading our muffins with berries wasn’t the answer—but concentrating the flavor of the blueberries was.


Well, I love blueberries, so I clicked and watched the video. And then I wanted muffins! Of course, clicking the recipe just brings up a blurry unreadable recipe graphic with a pop up over it saying you need to sign in. Poo. But I did a google search, because the thing about recipes is that you rarely keep them to yourself. And oh hey, what do you know, somebody blogged the recipe. Success! I just needed to get a bit of buttermilk and I was ready to go.


Best Blueberry Muffins



Ingredients

Lemon Sugar Topping

* 1/3 cup sugar
* Zest from one lemon (about 1 ½ teaspoons)

Muffins

* 2 cups fresh blueberries
* 1 1/8 cups sugar, plus one teaspoon
* 2 ½ cups AP flour
* 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon table salt
* 2 large eggs
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
* ¼ cup vegetable oil
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

Stir the sugar and zest together until combined; set aside.

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick spray. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with a spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to ¼ cup, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to bowl and cool to room temperature, 10-15 minutes.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds (remember, 80 strokes). Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. The batter will be very lumpy with spots of dry flour; do not overmix!

Use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound, pushing it below the surface. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure eight motion. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.



Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, about 17-19 minutes, rotating muffin tin (front to back) halfway through cooking time. Cool muffins in tin for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool 5 more minutes before serving.

Notes:

The jam is an extra step, but it's such an easy one. Dump blueberries and sugar in a pan, cook and stir. Of course, when it came time to put the jam into the muffins, mine didn't go in as easily as the video. :P I ended up digging a well in the muffins with my spoon, then putting the jam in and trying to cover up the jam with the batter. It worked, but it was a bit messy.

For the swirling part, I started off trying to use a toothpick, but it's just not long enough and as soon as you hit a blueberry, you're stuck. I think because of that, my first few muffins didn't have a good distribution of jam. I switched to a chopstick afterwards. Next time I'll make sure to swirl the jam out towards the sides of the muffins. I feel like the figure eight motion really only swirled it in the center of the muffin and if you're going to do the work for that jam, it should show in all of the muffin.

At first, I was wary of that lemon sugar. I know adding lemon juice to fruits is very popular, but I like my blueberry muffins to take like blueberry muffins, not blueberry lemon muffins. I decided to follow the recipe exactly though. When I first made the lemon sugar, it smelled delicious and I wanted to eat it. I put it on the muffins and baked them. When I ate a muffin hot, I found that I kind of liked it. But I find when I eat foods a bit hot, the flavor isn't as intense to me. When I ate a cold muffin this morning, the lemon sugar was overpowering and made the muffin way too sweet. The blueberry flavor is intense, but the lemon was stronger still. When I make these muffins again, I will definitely not be making the lemon sugar again. It's just too much. If you like the lemon/blueberry combination, go for it. Next time I'll make a nice streusel topping instead.

Don't use a silicon muffin pan. I can taste it in the muffins and that really really puts an enjoyment on things. I'm not usually one to freak out about chemicals in my food. I'm perfectly fine microwaving something in a plastic container, but in this case I'm not happy. You shouldn't be able to taste silicon like that. There's something wrong with those things. D: I won't trash the muffins, but I'm never using those pans again!

Anyway, overall the jam in the muffin was intriguing and I think the extra step was worth it. It really kicked up the blueberry flavor and you get nice blue purple-y swirls in your muffins. It might look a little messy, but it's so yummy :D You get a lot of the best part of the muffin, the blueberry part! Finally, an America's Test Kitchen recipe that didn't let me down.
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