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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Royal Blueberry Muffins



We've got a dry, crumbly muffin epidemic on our hands. The casualties number in the thousands. Every day, people are choking down tasteless, dry muffins. (Queue the music from Les Mis.) From delis to bakeries nationwide, this simple yet delicious confection has become an abomination. I'm here to put an end to this madness!

A good muffin should be light, fluffy and have just the right amount of moisture. Accompanying it with coffee or a cold glass of milk should be an enhancement, not a requirement to choke down the crumbs. When you cut open the muffin, the air holes should be small and uniform. The top of the muffin should be slightly crip and have some cracks in it for extra structure.

I love blueberries, but they can sometimes taste a bit one dimensional. The secret to kicking them up to that next step is to reduce the sugar in the batter then add the sugar back to the top as a flavored glaze. The flavor adds another dimension and the glaze adds a bit of "crisp" texture to the top that really elevates blueberries to a level fit for royalty. (Note that the sugar in this recipe was reduced to keep the flavor balanced because of the glaze on top. If you skip the glaze, the muffins won't taste sweet enough.)

You can use fresh or frozen blueberries. I'm kind of a fan of frozen because they're usually smaller, but it's currently blueberry season and the produce stand has a grip on my little black soul. This blueberry consumption is going to turn me into Violet Beauregarde!


(See my post on Perfect cakes every time in 8 easy steps if you want to an explanation of the science for each of these steps.)

Yield 12 regular-sized muffins or 6 jumbo-sized muffins

Ingredients for the batter:

250gall purpose flour
1tbspbaking powder
3/4tspsalt
1largeegg
200ggranulated sugar
1/2stickunsalted butter, melted
285gramssour cream (do not use fat free)
1pintblueberries, cleaned, stemmed and drained well (or if frozen, use right from package)
Ingredients for the glaze:

1/4cfresh squeezed lemon juice or orange juice
1/4cgranulated sugar
1tspfresh grated lemon zest, orange zest, or fresh ginger or candied ginger

Directions:
 
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Grease a 12 cup standard or 6 cup jumbo muffin tin. (Do not flour it, but if you like you can use the cupcake papers also.)
  3. Whisk first 3 dry ingredients together and set aside.
  4. Whisk the egg in a small bowl until it is very pale and fluffy. (In this case, the only "water-based" ingredient is sour cream. Since it has a high fat content, it isn't necessary to separate the egg yolk and white.)
    Egg whites are whisked until they're pale and fluffy
  5. Add the sugar to the egg and whisk until well combined.
    After whisking in sugar, should still be light and pale
  6. Add the melted butter and whisk until combined well.
  7. Add the sour cream and whisk until combined well.
  8. Toss the blueberries into the flour mixture to coat them. (This helps to keep them from sinking to the bottom during baking.)
    The wet stuff is mixed together and the blueberries have been tossed in the dry mix. Ready to commence folding!
  9. Pour the wet mixture on top of the flour mixture and fold. It should around 15 folds to incorporate correctly, but not more than 30. Mixture will seem very thicky and lumpy. Here's a video of properly folding the muffins.
  10. Scoop into the muffin tins. Do not press them down or smooth the tops flat, just let nature take it's course.
    Notice how uneven and clumpy-thick the mixture looks. Perfect! They're ready for the oven!
  11. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes for regular-sized muffins or 30-35 for jumbo-sized muffins.
    The top should look a bit rugged, not perfectly round or flat
  12. While muffins are baking, stir the glaze ingredients together in a very small sauce pan and boil until reduced to about 4 tablespoons.
  13. Immediately after removing from oven, turn out onto wire rack and then turn the muffins right side up.
  14. Let muffins cool for about 5 minutes (just until they're cool enough to handle) and dunk the tops into the glaze mixture while they're still warm. Let them finish cooling on a wire rack.
    The inside of the muffins should have perfect spaced tiny air pockets. They should feel delicate.
The stored muffins should be tightly sealed for storage. They'll last for a couple of months in the freezer or about a week at room temperature. After a couple of days, it's best to toast them and slather with butter.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them and I'll respond.

Thank you for reading!

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