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Fresh-baked blueberry muffins, coffee, tangerines & deep purple anemones!
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey is one of my favorite children's books. I love the warm relationship that Sal and her mother have, and the loving relationship of the mother bear and her cub. "Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!" go the blueberries as Sal drops them into her tin pail. We meet Sal again in One Morning in Maine. Her family lives on a tiny and isolated island with a rocky beachfront and soaring trees. Sal's older now and goes digging for clams with her father, when she loses her first tooth. Sal's rite of passage, her parents loving attention while simultaneously teaching Sal how to be resilient and strong, make me long for a more self-sufficient, slower lifestyle with a real connection to my natural surroundings.

One Valentine's Day many years ago -- I think it was as long ago as 2001! -- Dave gave each of us a gift. Jordan got Blueberries for Sal, Franny got what soon became another favorite, Love Songs of the Little Bear, and I received the BBC miniseries production of Pride and Prejudice (the definitive version with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth). All three gifts have woven deep threads into the narrative of our lives.

I guess that's what I think about when I eat blueberries. Family, tenderness, nature. And blueberries in muffins make for even more warmth on a weekend morning. These blueberry muffins, from Baking Illustrated by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine, are my new favorites. These muffins brown beautifully resulting in a firmer, toasty goodness on the outside while still remaining fluffy tender in the middle. 
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Buttering the muffin tin instead of spraying with non-stick spray is really worth the effort. The result is better browning and rich flavor.
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Whisk vigorously until the sugar & eggs thicken.
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Add the just-out-of-the-freezer frozen blueberries (or fresh) to the dry ingredients. This coating helps keep the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of your muffins.
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Whisk the dry ingredients together to mix.
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Add the slightly cooled melted butter in 2 or 3 additions and whisk to incorporate.
Frozen blueberries are convenient and work fine in this recipe. 
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Fold the wet ingredients into the dry.
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Add sugar to the beaten eggs.
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Add the sour cream in three additions. I use a 1/2C measure cup (4 oz) twice, followed by a 1/4C (2 oz).
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The dough is very thick.
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Even though the blueberries have stained the batter purple, the muffins bake up just fine. Bake 25-30 minutes in a 350 degree, pre-heated oven. In my oven, it takes 30 minutes.
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Clean up begins while the muffins bake!
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Golden deliciousness!
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Let muffins cool for 5 minutes, then turn them out on to a wire rack so they don't steam and get soggy.
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Tender and fluffy, with well-distributed blueberries thanks to dusting the still-frozen berries in the flour mixture.
Blueberry Muffins from Baking Illustrated
Makes 12

Equipment needed
1 muffin tin
2 medium bowls
1 whisk
measuring cups & spoons
small saucepan to melt the butter
rubber spatula
soup spoon for scooping batter into muffin tins
wire rack fitted into a half-sheet pan (optional) for cooling

Ingredients
2C unbleached all-purpose flour
1T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1C sugar
4T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter -- melted and cooled slightly
1-1/4C (10oz) sour cream
1-1/2C (7-1/2 to 8 ounces) frozen or fresh blueberries

Procedure
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, wire rack in the middle position
2. Butter muffin tins
3. Whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl to combine
4. Beat the egg in another bowl until well-combined & lightens in color 
5. Add the sugar and whisk vigorously until the mixture become thick and homogenous
6. Add the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions and combine well after each addition
7. Add the sour cream in 2-3 additions, whisk just to combine
8. Remove the blueberries from the freezer and add to the dry ingredients. Gently toss to cover. *If using fresh berries, be sure that they are well-dried after washing.
9. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, careful not to overmix. The batter will be very thick and that's okay! It's also okay if small spots of flour remain or if the batter is stained a little purple from the berries.
10. Spoon batter into the muffin cups. Ina Garten would use a spring-loaded ice cream scooper for perfectly consistent sized muffins, Cooks Illustrated says to spray your spoon with cooking oil, but I think both are unnecessary.
11. Bake until muffins are golden brown, about 25-30 minutes, turning the muffin pan once for more uniform browning. Insert a toothpick in the center of the muffin. If it comes out clean, they are done, though the tops being brown are really a great indicator.
12. Cool in pan for about 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to keep muffins from steaming. Enjoy warm, though they're good cold, too!
 


Comments

tCat
05/20/2013 8:12pm

Your blog is awesome! These blueberry muffins look so delicious -- must remember to make soon!

Reply
05/22/2013 4:39pm

Thanks for reading, tCat! It means a lot to me. You definitely should try making these muffins soon.

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