Tuesday, July 21, 2009

MORE Blueberries for Sharon

I know you just got a recipe for blueberries, but blueberry season is almost over. So I’m not going to hoard my blueberry recipes. I’m going to give you my recipes now. And when I say “my” recipe, I mean Cook’s Illustrated’s “Best Blueberry Muffins” recipe.

I was fascinated by the small black and white photograph in the May/June 2009 issue of Cook’s Illustrated that demonstrates how loading more blueberries into your muffin batter isn’t the solution to getting a moister muffin. Adding more berries merely causes all those little guys to settle to the bottom of the muffin. The trick, Cook’s Illustrated declares, is to incorporate blueberry jam, and swirl the jam through the muffin batter. Your blueberries stay equally distributed and the jam creates a lovely, moist, “best” blueberry muffin.

“By jove,” I shouted. “I must make the best blueberry muffin immediately!”

Before you make the Best Blueberry Muffin (cause it’s more work than regular blueberry muffins.. and regular blueberry muffins are pretty great, too), some disclaimers:

1. If you want to include a topping, Cook’s Illustrated has some options: I assumed the one included in the recipe (sugar and lemon zest), would be the best. It wasn’t; it was too sweet, and had a processed, store-bought taste. The streusel, however, was really good. I’m only including the streusel recipe below because… let’s face it… this is my blog.

Here’s a picture of both of the toppings. The superior streusel is on the left:
2. I sometimes get a little ticked off with Cook’s Illustrated’s exact amounts and precise steps. I’m not convinced they make a whole lotta difference. I’m a big fan of Kathleen’s Bake Shop, where the recipes are always delicious, and you’re in and out of the kitchen in one, two, three.

3. A disclaimer to my disclaimer: If you’re looking for a good blueberry muffin recipe, this is a good one. It’s just a few extra steps.

Cook’s Illustrated Best Blueberry Muffins (with Streusel Topping… none of that sugar and lemon zest nonsense)
Yields 12 muffins

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (oven rack should be adjusted to the upper, middle position).

Spray a standard muffin tray with nonstick cooking spray.

For the jam: In a small saucepan, over medium heat, simmer 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar. Mash the berries until they are broken down and the mixture has thickened and reduced to ¼ cup (about 6 minutes). Remove from heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.

For the muffin batter: In a large bowl, whisk 2 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour and 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder.

In another bowl (so many bowls….), whisk 1 1/8 cups sugar and 2 eggs until thick. Slowly whisk in ½ stick of melted butter (cooled slightly) and ¼ cup vegetable oil. Whisk in 1 cup buttermilk and 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla.

Fold egg mixture and an additional cup of blueberries into the flour mixture and mix until just moistened. Lumps and spots of dry flour are not a concern, Cook’s assures us.

Pour the batter into muffin cups. And here’s that special step for the moistest, “best” blueberry muffins: Spoon a teaspoon of the cooked berry mixture into the center of each batter mound. Use chopsticks to swirl the berry mixture into the batter with a figure-eight motion.
For the Streusel topping: Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, a pinch of salt and ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour into a small bowl. Drizzle mixture with 5 tablespoons unsalted butter and mix until evenly moistened.

Sprinkle streusel on muffin batter.

Bake 17-19 minutes.
Let me know if you think the jam-swirling action makes for a better, moister muffin. And if you’re a fan of the streusel.

Until next blueberry season!


  1. This recipe looks interesting. Can frozen blueberries be used if fresh aren't available?

  2. Hi "Anonymous"

    Yes, frozen blueberries can be used. Cook's favorite brands are Wyman's and Cascadian Farm.

    They also mention that if buttermilk is unavailable, substitute 3/4 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk.


  3. Where are you that blueberry season is almost over? Our JUST started, and when we went picking last weekend almost 2/3 of the berries were unripe on the bushes.

    This looks good! I might have to try it with my fresh picked bounty.

  4. Oh dear. I just tried to post (twice) and there seems to have been a error. Once more, this recipe sounds divine. I recently went blueberry picking and the froze a majority of my bounty for future baking days. I will definitely give this one a try. (Also, in general, your pictures are gorgeous. Good enough to eat!) -- Hungry Pumpkin @ foodiepursuits.com

  5. Hi Hungry Pumpkin,

    Thanks so much! Let me know how the muffins turn out. (And you aren't the first to tell me it's difficult to post on here. I'll get Google on the phone right away! ;) )

    As for blueberry season, Les... I dunno - I thought New York picking season ended in August - am I wrong?

  6. I am a blueberry FIEND and I love this recipe! Made it twice with rave reviews :) I even had to freeze a batch so that my family could have them on demand!

    Call me crazy, but I have to admit that I prefer them without the streusel topping...ah well! Mmm I have a batch in the oven and they smell AMAZING...memo to me: must start jogging...