When 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 perfect! 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 August — I think it might have been yesterday* — when something shifts. The high for the day is in the 60s, you run out to the market and what is this? Did you wish you’d brought your cardigan? How strange! And all of a sudden the prospect of a berry baked into something warm and cozy, that you might eat with your first hot coffee of the season, seems very right.
And it is around this time every year that I try to find the best blueberry muffin. I’ve made them with buttermilk and yogurt and cream cheese too, with streusel and dipped in butter and rolled in cinnamon-sugar; I’ve tucked them into corn muffins and bran muffins too, back to one I got from Cook’s Illustrated eons ago (introduced to me by the lovely Elise), but that’s different from the recipes in the two Cook’s Illustrated cookbooks that I own and also at least three of the five other blueberry muffin recipes on their site (the last two are hidden behind a pay wall put between people already paying and people paying more than people who are paying, not that I’m venting or anything, ahem). It has a high dome and a thick batter that’s really more of a dough (a classically brilliant technique of CI’s to keep berries from sinking) and every time, they’re as pretty as a picture.
I mean, I play with them too. I like them with yogurt but I like them even more with sour cream. I halve the recipe because 10 muffins is just the perfect amount to keep you from getting in too much trouble. I find it doesn’t much matter whether your berries are frozen or fresh, but I don’t care for defrosting them first as they just get so wet and slumpy. And although I made these in greased muffin cups, I forgot that I prefer them with paper liners because occasionally, a blueberry gets lost, stuck to the pan, and that’s just no way for a blueberry to go out.
* Or two days before that, when I started writing the post. Why does it take so long to update these days? You’ll have to speak to the boss.
NEW: Watch me make these muffins on YouTube!
One year ago: Cubed, Hacked Caprese
Two years ago: Dimply Plum Cake and Crisp Rosemary Flatbread
Three years ago: Smoke-Roasted Stuffed Bell Peppers
Four years ago: Punition Sandwiches and Moules à la Marinière
Perfect Blueberry Muffins
- 5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) sugar
- Finely grated zest from 1/2 a lemon (previously: 1/2 teaspoon zest)
- 3/4 cup plain unsweetened yogurt or sour cream
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (7 grams) baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
- 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups (215 to 255 grams) blueberries, fresh or frozen (no need to defrost) (previously: 3/4 cup, see note up top)
- 3 tablespoons turbinado (sugar in the raw) sugar
These, like most muffins, are best on the first day, we’ve found through extensive “research” that if you run them split open under a broiler on day two with a pat of salted butter, it’s so good that you’re going to forever hope for more blueberry muffin leftovers.