the best blueberry muffins, three ways [updated]

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Okay, so maybe these aren’t the best looking blueberry muffins in the world. I mean, they are rather purple- not golden and perfectly studded with berries like most picture-perfect coffee shop muffins. But. They are the best tasting blueberry muffins I have ever had.

Their unusual purple tops are caused by a simple homemade blueberry jam which is dolloped over each unbaked muffin and then swirled throughout the muffin with a toothpick among the whole blueberries. What you end up with is lovely blueberry flavor that permeates every bite, even if you don’t happen to run into a whole berry. And actually, if you can somehow master the art of dolloping the jam on top of the muffin and then scooping the batter below to cover the jam, your tops won’t be nearly as purple. But I haven’t mastered that yet. No one around here seems to mind though. I mastered it!

America’s Test Kitchen sprinkles a lemon-sugar topping on the muffins (seen in the bottom row in the photo above), but the friend who first shared this recipe with me usually tops hers with a brown sugar streusel. We couldn’t decide which topping we wanted this time, so I did one row of streusel, one row of lemon-sugar, and then I combined the remaining streusel and lemon-sugar and did one row of combination :)

I’ll give you the recipes for both toppings to choose from; if you decide to try both, simply cut each recipe in half.

 
Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

For the muffins:
2 cups (10 ounces) fresh blueberries, divided
Generous ⅔ cup sugar (about 6 ounces) + 1 teaspoon, divided
2 ½ cups (12.5 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs (I actually used duck eggs this time!)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
¼ cup grapeseed oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

For the lemon-sugar topping:
⅓ cup sugar
Zest of one lemon

For the streusel topping:
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup + 3 tablespoons flour
5 tablespoons butter, melted

 
Make the toppings first. In one bowl, use your clean fingers to rub the lemon zest into the sugar. Set aside. In another bowl, stir the sugar, salt, and flour together, then mix in the butter with a fork until it is combined and looks clumpy. Set aside.

Put an oven rack in the upper-middle position and preheat to 425 degrees. Line a muffin tin with baking cups and spray the top of the pan so the muffins will release easily (an Ina Garten trick :)).

To make the blueberry jam, combine 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently as the berries start to break down and bubble. Mash the berries against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon. After about 5 minutes, the berries should be thick and reduced to about ¼ cup. Cool in a bowl while you continue with the muffins.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and remaining sugar together until thickened and fully combined, about 45 seconds. Whisk in the butter and oil. Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in the remaining cup of blueberries and then gently fold the mixture into the dry ingredients using a rubber spatula. Do not overmix- the batter will not be smooth, and it’s okay if there are a few small dry spots of flour.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin pan, preferably using an ice cream scoop. [This is my new trick to eliminate the purple muffin tops: Instead of filling the cups all the way right now, before you swirl in the jam, you’ll only fill them about 2/3 full, leaving some batter still in the bowl. After you swirl in the jam, you’ll scoop the remaining batter equally over each muffin to cover the purple batter. That way, the muffins will bake up and be perfectly golden instead of purple!]

Now that you’ve divided part of the batter, here comes the fun part! Take the little bowl of homemade jam and place about 1 teaspoon on top of each muffin. Take a skewer or toothpick and swirl the jam around in each muffin. Following the instructions above, divide the remaining batter over the muffins. Sprinkle each muffin with the topping of your choice.

Bake for 17-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Rotate the pan halfway through baking.

Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack for 5 more minutes before serving.

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2 thoughts on “the best blueberry muffins, three ways [updated]

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