Perfect Blueberry Muffins
When early summer blueberries first show up at the market, it feels like sacrilege to bake with them—ditto with raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Mother Nature made them perfectly! Why drown them in batter, wilt them with heat, and then leave them out to dry? What brutes we’d be! But there’s a day in late August when something shifts. The high for the day is around 60°F and you wish for a cardigan. I live for cardigan weather. Suddenly the prospect of a berry baked into something warm and cozy, something that you might eat with your first hot coffee of the season, seems absolutely right. I want these to be the last blueberry muffins you ever make because I culled everything I had ever eaten, read, or loved about muffins and squashed them into 9 overfilled cups. From Cook’s Illustrated, I learned that a muffin with a thick batter suspends blueberries, no coating in flour necessary. From Blythe Danner, I realized you could put an inordinate amount of berries in each muffin and still have a very good muffin. From Stella Parks at Serious Eats, I came to agree that a full teaspoon of coarse sugar on top of each muffin sounds crazy but actually makes for a delightfully crunchy lid. If the muffin underneath it isn’t too sweet, the extra sugar doesn’t put it over the top at all—it’s just right. From my own muffin recipes over the years, I knew I could one-bowl this (yes, it’s a verb, at least around here), and while I was at it, I could ditch the creaming of the butter and the sifting (sifting! To make muffins! NO). And FTLOG, who—in practice, not just in ambitious recipe writing—measures zest in half-teaspoons? Finally, it had always bothered me that my recipe made 10 to 11 muffins only. A muffin recipe should make an even dozen! Did I make it happen? Nope. I went the other way and found this makes 9 much prettier towering muffins with perfectly bronzed domes; double it for a dozen and a half.
|70g (5 tbsp)||unsalted butter (cold is fine)|
|100g (1/2 cup)||granulated sugar|
|finely grated zest from 1/2 lemon|
|175g (3/4 cup)||plain unsweetened yogurt or sour cream|
|1½ tsp||baking powder|
|¼ tsp||baking soda|
|¼ tsp||fine sea salt or table salt|
|195g (1½ cups)||plain flour|
|215-225g (1¼-1½ cups)||blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)|
|35g (3 tbsp)||turbinado or demarara sugar|
You will need: a muffin tin and muffin cases.
Heat the oven to 190°C/gas 5. Line a muffin tin with 9 paper liners or spray each cup with a nonstick spray. Melt the butter and pour into the bottom of a large bowl, and whisk in the granulated sugar, lemon zest, yogurt, and egg until smooth. Whisk in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt until fully combined, then lightly fold in the flour and berries. The batter will be very thick, like a cookie dough. Divide between the prepared muffin cups and sprinkle each muffin with 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean (you know, except for blueberry goo). Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then the rest of the way on a rack.
These, like most muffins, are best on the first day. But we’ve found—through extensive “research”—that if you heat them split open under a grill on day two with a pat of salted butter, they are so good that you’re going to forever hope for more blueberry-muffin leftovers.
Notes: The smaller amount (215 grams) of blueberries listed in the ingredients will make a well-berried muffin. The larger amount (255 grams) is for people—me! me!—who like just a little bit of muffin with their blueberries.