Wednesday, December 23, 2009

blueberry muffins - probably the only blueberry entry i'll make

blueberry muffins (cook's illustrated) - 10Being the sweet granddaughter that I am, I chose to spend Christmas with my grandma. She lives in a boring midwestern town where everyone knows everyone, and where seeing someone under the age of 30 is a rare occurrence. With my newly found baking skills (okay maybe not so much skills; more so of a baking interest) I wanted to have fun with my grandma and bake all day every day. I should note that my grandma isn't the typical "I-got-this-recipe-from-my-grandma"-grandma, she's more of the "I-can-teach-you-how-to-milk-a-cow"-grandma. Not to mention she hasn't baked a single batch of cookies in years, so she obviously was a little rusty. No fear grandma, I will take over the baking!

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I asked her what types of baked-goods she liked, and she basically said everything. AWESOME! Finally a person who'll eat anything I make, and always say that it tastes good! She did mention she liked blueberry muffins (which is great, because I can't bake anything witth blueberries for the picky-eater in my life), so I searched and searched for a recipe. It didn't take me very long until I found a Cook's Illustrated recipe, and I immediately stopped my search.

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What is interesting about this recipe is that they tell you to make a blueberry-jam-thing with half the berries, with the other half remaining as whole berries. The jam was easy to make; just add blueberries, water, sugar, and mix them on the stove.

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Then folding the batter with the blueberries.

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Before baking, they tell you to add a teaspoon of the jam-mixture and swirl it in the batter. What a cute little effect, but quite unnecessary.

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My new silicone muffin cups would have come in handy here. These tins have to be older than my dad.

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Final product. Very pretty and fancy looking, but I wish there were more whole blueberries.

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Inside was very moist and probably would make a good batter for similar muffins and cakes.

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I think they look so pretty! My grandma loved them (but then again, she has never disliked anything in her life). My grandma also loves to save things (no lie) and put the remaining muffins in her freezer for "later snacks"... a.k.a. to never be seen again.

"Best Blueberry Muffins" from Cook's Illustrated

lemon sugar topping: (Completely omitted)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1+1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon

muffin batter:
2 cups fresh blueberries
1+1/8 cups plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2+1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2+1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1+1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. For the topping: Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.
2. For the muffins: Adust oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room remperature, 10-15 minutes.
3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 c. sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. 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. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)
4.Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.
5. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17-19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.
6. To substitute frozen berries. Cook 1 cup as directed in Step 2. Rinse remaining berries under cold water and dry well. In step 3, toss dried berries into flour mixture before adding egg mixture. Proceed with recipe as directed.

Makes 12 muffins. (we made 14, probably because I was so afraid to actually fill the batter to the top as they stated)

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