Best Blueberry Muffins

Published May 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.

Why this recipe works:

We didn’t want the fruit in our blueberry muffin recipe to have the lackluster, watery taste so common in many other recipes. Cooking some of the berries in sugar and adding our cooled homemade jam to the batter along with fresh, uncooked berries gave our muffin recipe the best of both worlds:… read more

We didn’t want the fruit in our blueberry muffin recipe to have the lackluster, watery taste so common in many other recipes. Cooking some of the berries in sugar and adding our cooled homemade jam to the batter along with fresh, uncooked berries gave our muffin recipe the best of both worlds: intense blueberry flavor and the liquid burst that only fresh berries can provide.

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Makes 12 muffins

If buttermilk is unavailable, substitute 3/4 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk.

Ingredients

  • Lemon-Sugar Topping
  • 1/3 cup sugar (2 1/3 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon
  • Muffins
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (about 10 ounces), picked over
  • 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 butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk (see note)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. 1. FOR THE TOPPING: Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.

    2. FOR THE MUFFINS: Adjust oven rack to 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 ¼ cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

    3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups 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. Following photos below, use ice cream scoop or large spoon to 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 to 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.

Recipe Testing

When More Isn't Better

To boost berry flavor in a muffin, simply adding more blueberries isn't the answer. With too many in the mix, the berries sink to the bottom, weighing the muffin down.

WEIGHED DOWN

Making Muffins with Blueberry Flavor Through and Through

1. MAKE BERRY JAM Cook half of fresh blueberries into thick jam to concentrate their flavor and eliminate excess moisture.

2. ADD FRESH BERRIES Stir 1 cup of fresh blueberries into batter to provide juicy bursts in every bite.

3. PORTION BATTER Scoop batter into muffin pans, completely filling cups.

4. ADD JAM TO BATTER Place 1 teaspoon of cooled berry jam in center of each batter-filled cup, pushing it below surface.

5. SWIRL INTO BATTER Using chopstick or skewer, swirl jam to spread berry flavor throughout.

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