Monday, April 6, 2009


For the past year I've been keeping a recipe file on my computer titled, "Best of the Best." My intention has been to collect the most outstanding recipes for some of our favorite foods and dishes. Everyone seems to have a go-to, no fail, incredible recipe that friends from far and wide request. I wanted to finally start keeping track of my favorite, go-to recipes. I am happy to report that this recipe is moving into the "Best of the Best" file.

I've never had good luck with blueberry muffins. Mine always come out hard and tasteless. The blueberries never seem to have enough punch and they sink to the bottom of the muffin no matter how much flour I coat them with. So when the latest issue of Cook's Illustrated arrived with a blueberry muffin recipe and I realized I had all of the ingredients on hand, I stopped everything and got baking.
Cook's Illustrated has rarely led me astray, so I had high hopes for the recipe. It didn't disappoint. These muffins are golden and crisp on the outside, with a bright lemon sugar crunch on the top. Inside they are moist with the perfect berry to muffin ratio.

Lastly, I'm going to make a plug here for baking a breakfast item or fresh bread for your next hostess gift. You will marvel your friends when you show up with something they can enjoy on their own the morning after hosting the party. Show up with a box of these and I guarantee they will love you forever.

Blueberry Muffins
Cook's Illustrated, May & June 2009

1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated zest from one lemon

2 cups (10 ounces) blueberries (if using frozen, see note below)
1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
2 eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk (you can sub 3/4 c. plain yogurt thinned with 1/4 c. milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Adjust oven rack into upper-middle position. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Bring one cup of blueberries and 1 teaspoon of sugar to simmer in saucepan over medium heat. Mash berries and stir frequently until thickened and reduced to about 1/4 cup, about six minutes. Take off heat and cool for 10 minutes.
3. While blueberries cool, mix up topping. Combine zest and sugar in bowl and set aside.
4. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/8 cups of sugar and eggs. Mix for 45 seconds and then slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla. Fold egg mixture and remaining cup of blueberries into flour mixture until just combined. Do not overmix, batter will be lumpy.
5. Fill muffin cups to brim. Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Use a chopstick or skewer and swirl berry mixture gently. Sprinkle lemon sugar topping evenly over muffins.
6. Bake for 17-19 minutes, rotating pan once halfway through baking time. Tops should be golden and just firm when baked. Cool pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Then take muffins out of tin and finish cooling on wire rack or serve.

Note: If using frozen blueberries, cook 1 cup of berries as directed above. Rinse remaining cup under cold water, then dry thoroughly. In step 4, toss dried berries in flour mixture before folding in the egg mixture.

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