Blueberry Muffins

Here’s a slight perspective on exactly how big of a slacker I am. I made these blueberry muffins in September, and I’m just getting to posting them. September…that’s like 8 months ago. Whatever, somehow it’s all your fault, so you have yourselves to blame.

Anyway, if you couldn’t tell by now, I’m a really big fan of America’s Test Kitchen, and this recipe is from them. Not only that, when I made them, I had posted a picture of it on twitter (I’m sure you remember, because I’m sure you’re following my awesomeness), and they actually posted it on their website…I’m like famous or something.

The reason why I like America’s Test Kitchen is because they actually do research into their recipes, and find out why things work, and what the best way to make something is. Being the nerd I am, I kinda like that sort of stuff. So I bring to you today the best blueberry muffin recipe.

With any cake like food, there are pretty much three different ways to bring the batter together. There’s the creaming method, the biscuit method, and the muffin method. Creaming, which is beating room temperature butter with sugar to aerate it, is more for airy stuff like cakes; the biscuit method, combining really cold butter with flour to form little specks of butter within the flour, is more for like biscuits and pie dough. The muffin method, which are for…wait for it…keep on waiting…you never know, I might say something different than muffin…keep on waiting…I’m stalling, I know…hey did I mention that I finished dental school, and I’m graduating in two week? I know crazy right?..where was I…oh right…wait for it…just a little more…ok this joke just got real stupid, real quick…muffins! Whoah…so yeah, the muffin method is for muffins, and the way that whole shebang works, is you combine dry ingredients in one bowl, and wet in another bowl, and combine the two, until they just come together (you know the shpiel, the whole over mixing the batter, leads to more gluten produced, and more gluten, means a tougher end product…). Can you use the creaming method for muffins? Yeah sure you can, but then you’d have something more like a cupcake, than a muffin.

Ok, now that we know the whole muffin thing, it’s time to talk blueberries. Blueberries are great, but they can be a little finicky. We want maximum flavor, but the more blueberries we add, the more likely it is that they’ll sink to the bottom. So the way around that is, by adding half of the blueberries fresh, and the other half we added as a jam. That way, each muffin is chock full of blueberry goodness, and I think if I say blueberry one more time, I just might go crazy…It’s just one of those words that has a limit to how many times it can be said in one sitting, you know what I mean? Like smidgen, or powdered sugar…I dunno call me crazy…but when you do, don’t say it to my face, because that’s just not nice.

All right, let’s get cooking.

First let’s start with making the blueberry jam.

Combine 1 cup of blueberries with 1 teaspoon of sugar, and cook over medium heat, until it starts to simmer. Start mashing the blueberries with a potato masher, or a wooden spoon, and continue to mash and cook, until it’s homogeneous, and thickened, and about 1/4 of a cup (it should take about 5-7 minutes), and set it aside.

Next, we’ll make the topping. Combine the lemon zest and sugar, and rub it together slightly, to allow the essential oils of the lemon to come (oh, “essential oils” is another one of those words), and set it aside.

To make the muffins, combine the dry ingredients – whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in one bowl, and in another bowl combine the wet ingredients. Start by putting the sugar and eggs in the bowl, and whisk until it’s foamy, and lighter in color. (Now, I know what you’re thinking, Nossi, I know you’re a dentist and all [oh hey, did I mention I finished dental school?? No?…Oh, I finished dental school…], but sugar is more dry than it is wet…and you’re totally right, and here’s where it gets tricky. Remember before how we mentioned the “creaming method” which was aerating the fat with sugar? Well that’s what we’re doing here, were combining the eggs with sugar, which aerates it, and those bubbles (ie the air) will incorporate into the batter, and make it airy, and fluffy..So how is this different than the creaming method? Well to be honest with you, I’m not 100% sure, maybe when you mix the sugar into the fat it produces an airy-er crumb…I’m not sure…and this might technically be called “creaming”..I’m not sure). Then slowly mix in the melted butter and vegetable oil, and then mix in the buttermilk. I decided to make this parve, so instead of using butter I used margarine, and instead of 1 cup of buttermilk, I used a cup of soy milk combined with a tablespoon of vinegar, and let that sit for 10 mins. (Just as a side – most “buttermilk” sold in the supermarket, is really milk with a culture added to it, and not the by product of butter [the real way to make buttermilk is take cream, churn it to make butter, and the liquid that’s leftover is buttermilk], so this soy milk plus vinegar is not so far off from the fake buttermilk you’d get in the supermarket anyway).

 

Once team wet and dry are ready to go, add the wet to the dry, and fold the mixture until it just comes together. Then pour in the remaining blueberries, and fold it in. There might be streaks of flour, and that’s fine, the alternative is over mixing, and that’s not fine.

Put the batter into the muffin tin; I like to use an ice cream scooper, but whatever works for you. Then spoon in the blueberry jam, and using a skewer or chopstick, swirl the jam around. Then top with the lemon-sugar mix.

  

  

Bake in a pre-heated 425 degree oven until they’re nice and ready, about 15 minutes or so, allow them to rest, and then eat every single one of them.

Sorry for the crappy quality pictures. I’m not the best photographer, and I was using my camera phone, probably because my actual slightly-less-crappier-camera was broken, because there was flour or something stuck in there…either way, enjoy.

Blueberry Muffins

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup sugar (2 1/3 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries(about 10 ounces)
  • 1 1/8 cups sugar(8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour(12 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted margarine/butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk substitute, plus 1 tablespoon vinegar (or you can use “real” buttermilk)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with potato masher or a spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to about a ¼ cup, about 6 minutes. And set aside to cool
  2. Then make the topping – Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined, and try to rub the two together slightly, and set aside.
  3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl, and whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, and lighter in color. Slowly whisk in margarine and oil until combined, and then whisk in your “buttermilk” (whatever you decide to use) and vanilla until combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold the wet into the dry until just combined, and then fold in the remaining blueberries (If the batter is lumpy with a few spots of dry flour that’s fine, don’t over mix it)
  4.  Portion out the batter into the muffin tins, and spoon about a teaspoon of jam into the center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into the batter.
  5. Sprinkle the lemon sugar mixture evenly over muffins.
  6. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes.
  7. Cool muffins for at least 5 minutes before chowing down.

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