Best Blueberry Muffins

How is it possible that the 4th of July is only a week away?  May and June flew by in the blink of an eye.  With the holiday weekend rapidly approaching, you may be starting to look for recipes that would be great for cookouts or picnics you’re attending or hosting (or both!).  I have a few new ones I’m excited to share with you; the first will be up on Wednesday.  I didn’t spend a single minute in my kitchen this weekend or it would have been ready today :)  Have you ever had one of those weekends where you don’t cook or bake a single thing?  As much as I love my time in the kitchen, sometimes a break is really nice!

Best Blueberry Muffins

If you happen to be hosting overnight guests this holiday weekend, they’d definitely appreciate waking up to a batch of these blueberry muffins.  I know I already have quite a few blueberry muffin recipes on the blog, but I don’t think you can ever have too many.  Besides, these are a little bit different from your typical blueberry muffins, which is not terribly surprising considering the source is Cook’s Illustrated.  They often add extra steps to a recipe and you wonder if the effort is worth it; here, the answer is a resounding yes!  Half of the blueberries in the recipe are cooked down into a homemade jam, which is swirled into the batter, and along with the fresh berries in the muffins results in a ton of blueberry flavor.  I think the jam is the element that elevates this recipe above many others, it really is a fantastic addition.  The muffins are topped with a lemon sugar that not only adds a nice crunch but a bit of citrus flavor that pairs so well with the blueberries.  

Best Blueberry Muffins

PS – if fresh blueberries aren’t available by you, this recipe can also be made with frozen blueberries.  Josie of Pink Parsley Catering posted about it here.  I’ve already made a mental note to freeze some of the berries I pick this summer because one of these muffins, warmed slightly and slathered with butter, would be a great treat on a cold, snowy winter morning.

“Best” Blueberry Muffins
from Cook’s Illustrated

Lemon-Sugar Topping
1/3 cup sugar (2 1/3 oz)
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest (about 1 lemon)

Muffins
2 cups (about 10 oz) fresh blueberries
1 1/8 cups sugar (8 oz) plus 1 teaspoon
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

To make the topping: Combine the lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl and rub together with your fingertips until fragrant.

Preheat the oven to 425 F with a rack in the upper third.  Spray your muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine 1 cup of the blueberries along with 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, mashing the berries with a spoon and stirring frequently.  Continue cooking until the berries break down and the mixture has a thick jam-like consistency; the volume should be reduced to about 1/4 cup.  Transfer to a small bowl and cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together.  In another large bowl, whisk the remaining 1 1/8 cups of sugar and the eggs together until pale yellow and thick.  Whisk in the butter and oil until combined.  Add the buttermilk and vanilla and whisk to incorporate fully.  Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture along with the remaining 1 cup of blueberries.  Use a rubber spatula to gently fold until the dry ingredients are just moistened – the batter will be lumpy, that’s fine.  Don’t overmix. 

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared wells of the muffin pan – each well should be completely full.  Add one teaspoon of the blueberry jam to the center of each well of batter.  Use a skewer to gently swirl the jam into the batter.  Sprinkle the muffins with the lemon sugar.

Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are golden and they spring back when gently pressed.  Transfer the muffin pan to a wire rack and let the muffins cool for 5 minutes before removing them to cool completely.

Makes 12 muffins