Beautiful Blueberry Muffins

There is just nothing like a muffin.  It's an easy, ready-made breakfast, which can be as healthy or sinful as you want it to be.  

Perfect for grabbing on your way out the door in the morning (they fit nicely in the car's or stroller's cupholders, don't you think?), and if you make them at home instead of swinging by the coffee shop for one, you'll save yourself about $2.50 a day.  Add that one up over a year!

After having some amazing warm blueberry muffins while on a playdate with my daughter at a friend's house, I knew I needed to make some of my own.  And I wasn't planning on worrying about healthying them up this time, either.  Light, sweet, and fluffy is what I was after, and I was even willing to buy buttermilk to achieve it.

I went straight to my new favorite baking authority, Leslie Mackie's Macrina Bakery and Cafe Cookbook.  Have I mentioned how much I love this book?  Well, I love it.  And of course it had just the recipe I needed.

A few friends and I were discussing what exactly is the trick to achieving a light and fluffy muffin.  Here are the scientific findings of a group of semi-amateurs on facebook.  The key, we think, is twofold:

1.  New baking powder.  My pie guru and foodie friend Mari says that it should be tossed after 3-4 months.  My idea is you should just try baking more so that you go through a full can of baking powder before 4 months is up.  I'll help with the surplus baked goods.

2.  Be very, very gentle with the batter.  Fold it together with a large, silicone spatula until just uniformly wet.  There might be a few lumps, and that's okay!  If you mix till it's smooth and perfect, your light and fluffy muffins become dense death cookies in the oven.  Do not use an electric mixer.  By hand.  By gentle hand.

Fresh Fruit Muffins 

2 c whole wheat pastry flour (okay, okay, I couldn't resist.  I healthied them up a little)
1 c flour
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t salt
4 eggs
1 T pure vanilla extract
1 t freshly grated lemon zest
1 1/2 c whole milk
8 T (1 whole lovely, delightful, full-fat stick!) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 c ripe fruit (I used fresh blueberries, a small container and a bit of a second, and supplemented the rest of the measurement with frozen)
1/2 c coarse raw sugar

Oven to 375.  Brush insides of a regular sized muffin tin with oil (or use the reserved butter wrapper).

Sift flour, sugars, brown sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.  Mix with wooden spoon.

In another bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and milk with a whisk until combined.  Add to the bowl of dry ingredients, combining gently with your wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are just moistened.  Slowly add melted butter.  Gently fold fruit into batter.

Scoop batter into muffin tin, filling cups to the top.  Sprinkle a bit of coarse, raw sugar on tops of muffins and baked for 30 minutes.  For minis, 25 minutes.  After the regular size have been in the oven 5 minutes, add the pans of minis so you can bake them all at once.  Makes 16 regular size and 12 minis.

Don't you love how the raw sugar makes the tops of the muffins sparkle a bit?  If there's anything that could improve upon delicious, fruity, fluffy muffins it is definitely a little bit of edible bling.  

What are your best tricks for light and fluffy muffins?

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