I think it would be safe for me to say that few Americans would turn down the opportunity to each a freshly baked blueberry muffin when given the chance. It is such a classic American baked good, we just take it for granted that we can get it everywhere. They even sell them at Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks, and of course, they are the size of your head.
Of course, most people make them in the normal cupcake tins at home. The recipe I use is a regional one and is based off a beloved department store muffin that King Arthur Flour developed. Jordan Marsh in Boston served these muffins to their hungry shoppers until the 1990s when it was bought out by (Surprise, surprise, Americans.) Macy’s. (As an aside, the balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are filled with the ghosts of the late regional department store owners whose shops they took over. It’s true.)
Actually, I recommend to my U.K. readers to explore the King Arthur Flour site for American recipes. King Arthur’s flours are the closest to the U.K. flours as far as protein content, so you can do like for like. And they have a handy click function that automatically converts recipes from volume measurements to ounces and to grams. They also are very good at responding to problems you have in the comments section. I am also a veteran home baker, and it’s my flour of choice. So, while I am waiting for my royalty check…
King Arthur Flour’s Famous Department Store Blueberry Muffins
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- 7 ounces sugar
- 2 American large or U.K. medium eggs
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence (extract) or 1/2 tsp almond and 1/2 tsp vanilla essence (extract)
- 8 1/2 ounces plain (all-purpose) flour
- 4 ounces milk
- 12 1/2 ounces blueberries, fresh preferred
- 1 3/4 ounces course decorating sugar, for topping
1) Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C/Gas Mark 5. Lightly grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin; or line the tin with papers, and grease the papers.
2) In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well combined.
3) Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl and beating well after each addition.
4) Beat in the baking powder, salt, and vanilla or vanilla/almond combination. You can also add some fresh lemon or orange zest to pick up the flavor too.
5) Add the flour alternately with the milk, beating gently just to combine. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. I highly recommend doing this by hand. To get the proper crumb texture of the muffin, the flour just needs to be incorporated. Where people make the mistake is to think the batter needs to be smooth and cake-like. The truth is the opposite.
6) Mash 2 oz of the blueberries. Toss the rest of the blueberries with enough flour to just coat them, so they don’t sink to the bottom of the tins when they bake. Add the mashed and whole berries to the batter, stirring just to combine and distribute.
7) Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan; an ice cream scoop works well here.
8) Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon sugar atop each muffin, if desired. Demerara sugar works, if you can’t find the coarse sugar.
9) Bake the muffins for about 30 minutes, until they’re light golden brown on top, and a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean.
10) Remove the muffins from the oven, loosen their edges from the pan, and after about 5 minutes transfer them to a rack to cool.
Yield: 12 muffins.
One note about this recipe: This one does not form the traditional muffin top, the bit of the muffin that spills out over the side to form that well-baked harder bit that so many people love. However, it creates a lovely sugar crust on top, so give it a chance.
Blueberries are in season in my parts, as you know from my last couple of posts, but I know they are not quite ready in the U.K. Keep this post in mind wherever you are, and consider making these muffins. Tell me what you think, if you do.