Since we rolled out the redesign, I’ve been flagging recipes in the archives I can’t stand looking at the pictures of anymore with plans to reshoot them. The perfect blueberry muffins were on this list except on my way to prettying them up, I made four other recipes first. Why make four other batches of blueberry muffins when you already have a favorite, is a pretty reasonable question, only if you’ve never shopped for jeans before even while wearing the pair you like most… or ordered steak at a restaurant besides the place you think makes it best. What I mean is, when a lot of people say “but the steak/jeans/cake here are amazing!” it’s hard not to wonder if maybe they’re onto something. What if they were just my favorite blueberry muffins at the time and there’s better out there that I didn’t know about yet? It’s been six years. Maybe it was time for a re-review. [Note: The prospect of a re-review with outside sources every few years is not recommended to be applied to spouses, children or hairdressers.]
Needless to say, this was a fun side project. There were a couple duds, but from most recipes, I picked up something new and worthwhile. 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 a delightfully crunchy lid. If the muffin underneath it isn’t too sweet, it doesn’t put it over the top at all — it’s just right. I also found her combination of coriander (I know!) and nutmeg crazy good and worth trying if you’re curious, even if I’m still defaulting to my lemon zest only here. From Blythe Danner, I realized you could put an inordinate amount of berries in each muffin and still have a very good muffin. I ended up doubling the berries in my go-to in the last batch and regret not-a-thing. (Should you be hesitant, just an increase from 3/4 cups to 1 1/4 is excellent but not over-the-top improvement.) From my own muffin recipes over the years, I knew I could one-bowl this (yes, a verb, at least around here) and while I was at it ditching the creaming of the butter, sifting (sifting! to make muffins! NO.) and ftlog, who — in practice, not just 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. I found in other recipes that very full cups of batter, so long as it’s a thick one, didn’t spill over but grew into perfect bronzed domes in the oven. The batter here is very thick. It makes 9 much prettier muffins that it ever made 10 to 11 of.
But mostly, I found that my go-to was still going to be my go-to, but with a bunch of improvements, improvements that have led to more blueberry muffins in our lives, and I hope yours too. I think you know what needs to be done.
Vacation Dispatch: Can you guess where I am right now? GUESS. GUESS! We’re in Portugal! Last week we dragged a very excited almost 7-year old and a 1 year-old who I’d expected to be the source of the next longform thinkpiece on “why do people have to bring kids on planes, whhhy” but ended up being perfectly wonderful. (They shall save the full extent of their true selves for the return flight, I expect.) We started in Lisbon and have now made it to the Algarve region; we plan a day in Sintra before we return in a week. If you’d like vacation dispatches, you should follow my personal Instagram @debperelman or on Snapchat @smittenkitchen for some outtakes. This is a beautiful country (and everyone is so nice to kids).