Sunday, July 11, 2010

The BEST Blueberry Muffins

I apologize.  Over a year has gone by, and I have never posted about my favorite blueberry muffins.  Probably, although they are my favorites, I don't think I've made them since 2006.  2006?!?  That was a while ago, even though I keep pretending it was last summer.  

What happened in 2006 is that I graduated from college and moved to Nantucket.  That summer I lived with three lovely Wellesley graduates.  Now, I don't want to generalize about Wellesley women, because I've only lived with a handful, but the ones I know (and lived with), are very domestic.  My first day on Nantucket I bought milk and Cheerios, which I proceeded to eat for dinner.  Then my roommate Christiana served me some delicious risotto and explained that they cooked and ate together every night.  They were very gracious about easing me into the cooking rotation, but I was still intimidated: I had to cook not only for myself, but my three very domesticated housemates?  Cheerios for dinner doesn't count?  Needless to say, my cooking has come a long way since then, but summer of 2006 was my first real foray into cooking and eating like a real adult.  

Along with cooking for my housemates and occasional dinner guests (namely Erik, whose housemates, not being Wellesley women, were not nearly as domesticated as mine), I did lots of baking, and one of my favorite sources for recipes, since I didn't own any cookbooks at the time (a mind boggling thought, now!), was the Cape Cod Table by Lora Brody, which my lovely housemate Erin owned.  By instituting Sunday Morning Brunch and Mimosas we managed to cook and bake our way through nearly everything in the cookbook's Breakfast section, but my favorite recipe remains the one for blueberry muffins.  So much so that when Erin left for law school I bought my own copy of the book on eBay.  While I have handed out the recipe to friends,  for some reason I never made them again myself, but today, that has been remedied.

These muffins are incredibly moist and tender--not like those crumbly muffins that you bite into and all of a sudden you're wearing half of it on your shirt.  Because I've had muffins like those, and they're no good. They are absolutely jam packed with berries--you smash some and mix more in whole, so the blueberry flavor absolutely permeates the muffins.  Citrus zest (officially orange, but lemon works just as well), adds another dimension of flavor.  And, just as a practical matter, the recipe is for 12 regular sized muffins, which is perfect, because 12 fit in one muffin tin.  So grab a couple of pints of blueberries before the season is over whip these up.  Best blueberry muffins, I promise.

The BEST Blueberry Muffins Ever (From The Cape Cod Table by Lora Brody)
6 jumbo muffins or 12-14 regular muffins


For the muffins:
* 2 cups of all-purpose flour
* 1 cup of granulated sugar
* 2 teaspoons of baking powder
* ½ teaspoon of salt
* 2 ½ cups of fresh blueberries, rinsed and shaken dry, or 2 ½ cups of slightly thawed frozen blueberries
* 2 extra large eggs
* ½ cup of milk
* ½ cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
* 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
* Finely grated zest of a medium orange (or lemon)

For the topping:
* 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
* ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
* ½ cup of finely chopped walnuts

1.  Preheat the oven to 400°F, with the rack in the center position.  Line the muffin tins of your choice with paper muffin cups or coat the cups and flat part of the tins generously with butter or cooking spray.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl.

 3. Place 1 cup of the blueberries in a small bowl and use a fork to mash them roughly.

4. In another medium mixing bowl, melt the butter.  (If you're using the microwave, beware of butter explosions!  Stop the microwave several times while you're melting the butter, or you will end up with a well buttered microwave!)   When the butter is cooled slightly (about 5 minutes), whisk in the eggs, milk, vanilla, and citrus zest.  Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to fold in the mashed berries.

5. Fold the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing just to combine.  There should be some dry lumps showing.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to combine all the dry ingredients.  Gently, fold in the whole berries.  

6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pans without smoothing the tops, filling them slightly more than half way. 
 Obviously I'm not good at following directions.  These
should be less full, and covered with topping.  Oops.
7. Make the topping by mixing the sugar, cinnamon, and nut together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle generously over the batter.  Bake the regular-sized muffins for 18 to 20 minutes and the jumbo muffins for 22 to 24 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes or so before devouring. 


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