Monday, June 21, 2010

America's Test Kitchen's Best Blueberry Muffins

Remember how I was lamenting the lack of fruit in Chicago, I've discovered Stanley's Fruit & Vegetables Market and have been in fruit heaven. I recently also discovered Jiminy Chips, they have a potato chip maker in the store near the back that cranks out fresh potato chips. They are so addicting! Stanley's is now my go to store for fruit, veggies and fresh sweet potato chips.

I bought a huge container of blueberries recently and have been tossing them into my cereal or yogurt or just snacking on them, but it's been hard to make a dent. Not wanting fresh blueberries to go to waste, I decided to use them to bake some muffins. I haven't made blueberry muffins in ages, so I went straight to the source ... America's Test Kitchen for their best blueberry muffins recipe.

They also have a low fat recipe that looked great, so I will try that next, but I was intrigued by their use of blueberry jam in the muffins. I am one of those people who thinks blueberry muffins can never have enough blueberries in them and will peel off the bready parts to pick at the berries. So for someone like me, who loves the blueberry flavor, it's perfect. I also just learned that while you might be tempted to put more blueberries into your batter, using jam is a better method because adding too many berries to this will only make it sink to the bottom of your muffins. I know you are thinking that making the jam is an added step, but I think you will be well rewarded for your efforts.

Best Blueberry Muffins
America's Test Kitchen
makes 12 muffins

Lemon-Sugar Topping:
1/6 cup sugar (original recipe called for 1/3 cup, I didn't think you need that much sugar topping on these muffins - they are pretty sweet as is)
1 1/2 teaspoon finely grated zest from 1 lemon

2 cup fresh blueberries (about 10 ounces)
1 1/8 cup sugar (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon
2 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoon (1/2 stick) unsalted butter -- melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk (you can substitute 3/4 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat 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 temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

For the lemon/sugar topping: Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside. I had more than half of the lemon/sugar topping leftover; hence why I recommend only making half a batch of what was originally called for.

Coarse sugar would be even better in this since regular sugar seems to dissolve into the muffin when baking, but overall the added texture was a nice contrast.

Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds.

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in large bowl. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined.

Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining 1 cup of blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)

Use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to fill half of the muffin cups. Spoon a teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter, pushing it below the surface.

Using a chopstick or skewer, gently swirl the berry filling into batter using a figure-eight motion. Fill the remaining cup with batter so that it completely fills the muffin cup.

Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.

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.

These muffins were great and I loved the blueberry jam in it, except I made a fatal flaw. I didn't have buttermilk on hand so I used yogurt instead. The problem was that I reached for the non-fat yogurt at the market and didn't realize it till I got home. If you don't know already, non-fat yogurt has absolutely no taste and apparently in baking, using whole or low-fat dairy products will make a huge difference in flavor. I will definitely try making these again with buttermilk or with whole or low-fat yogurt next time. I hope you can get your hands on some blueberries (or even a bag of frozen ones) and whip up these muffins for yourself. =)


  1. I replaced the oil with applesauce and it turned out well. I did use buttermilk though but it was a lowfat version :)

    I gave them to people@ work after pulling them out of the oven so they were VERY moist and warm. Someone said they've never had lemon & blueberry together before.

  2. Good job! I just got rid of my nonfat yogurt, good riddance!

    Really? They've never had lemon and blueberries together? I think it adds a bit of brightness to the muffins, so I like the combo. Don't you think it was a bit too much sugar topping?

  3. Sugar topping? I did follow your instructions to cut the sugar but I did add a couple of more scoops because I felt I didn't have enough. I think i had too much lemon zest my lips hurt afte r eating too much. haha.

  4. i never buy buttermilk because i can never seem to use the full amount up - here's a quick and easy substitute (hint, milk + vinegar and 5 minutes) works like a charm!

  5. also, thanks for this recipe! i saw it on the public tv station a little while back and wrote as fast as i could but still missed most of it.

  6. thanks for the tip! My roommate can attest to how I am constantly running back to the grocery store because I, without fail, always forget to buy something I need. So glad to know that there's an easy substitute! :) I do love making ice cream with the leftovers though. You should try it sometime, it's delicious.