Sunday, June 17, 2012
cook's illustrated blueberry muffins.
Ah. Blueberry muffins. One of those recipes that people are constantly searching for the one. I myself have made a few muffin recipes before in search of my ideal muffin- spongy texture, moist and the very important huge domed top.
Along the course of my search, I found the trick to getting that spongey fluffy texture I so love, which is basically to whip the eggs and sugar together until pale and voluminous, not unlike a sponge cake method. The moistness of the muffin is something that can be controlled by careful monitoring of baking times. So that just leaves the domed top, the hardest component.
Flour bakery's recipe yielded muffin tops that were the closest to my idea of perfection. Pity about the dense texture and the sticky surface that soon developed a few hours later. If I could combine the sponge cake method with this recipe's proportions, I bet that would make a pretty awesome muffin. I must try it soon.
Allrecipe's version came pretty close to muffin heaven too. The tops were super crunchy and I would invest in a muffin top pan just for this recipe. Pity that I switched from the conventional squatter muffin liners for a taller slimmer one, resulting in more batter going into the "stump" and less for the top. If I had used the regular ones, I would be able to see just how big the tops can really get. However, I noticed that this batch of muffins had tops that tend to be more like humps whereas I prefer tops that expand more sideways than upwards, like Flour bakery's.
So coming back to Cook's Illustrated's recipe. It checked off most of my requirements- the spongey-ness and the moistness (even if I did swap the oil for applesauce) and it wasn't too sweet too, but the top wasn't magnificent. I filled the muffin cups all the way to the brim, save for the last one because I was overly generous with the others, but they didn't give quite the mushroom top I expected. I omitted the lemon-sugar topping and the top wasn't crunchy like I would like. I feel no remorse for docking points here because my perfect muffin recipe would yield muffins with crunchy tops without extra toppings like streusel and sugar.
However, I must commend this recipe on its blueberry component. Cooking down the blueberries into a jam really amped them up. None of the grey-ish bland-tasting splotches in your muffins! In fact, I would definitely borrow this idea and make all my future blueberry muffins with blueberry jam.
Best Blueberry Muffins
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Lemon Sugar Topping
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
1 1/8 cups + 1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the topping: Stir together sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl until combined. Set aside
For the muffins: Preheat oven to 425F. Prepare a standard muffin tin.
Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 tsp sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until the berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.
Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs and remaining sugar together in a medium bowl until thick and homogenous, about 45 seconds. Whisk in butter and oil until just combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until just combined. Fold egg mixture and remaining cup of blueberries into the flour mixture until just moistened. The batter will be very lumpy. Do not overmix.
Divide batter equally amongst prepare muffin cups. Swirl a teaspoon of cooked blueberry mixture into the center of each mound of batter. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.
Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17-19 minutes.