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Blueberry Muffins Project


Shel_B
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I like blueberry muffins, but I'm not much of a baker and the ones I've purchased are often too sweet, sticky, have a poor texture, and, surprisingly, offer a dearth of blueberries.

I've searched through the archives and could find no thread about making blueberry muffins, so, in my quest for knowledge, it seemed like a good idea to start one.

What are some tips and techniques for making great blueberry muffins? How do you make yours? Any pointers to proven recipes? I'd like to learn how to make a really good blueberry muffin.

I don't like my muffins too sweet, and I like 'em big with a nice sized, somewhat firm, muffin top, and the blueberries firm and not mushy or disintegrating ... Thanks!

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


 

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I have just made some last weekend, using the Bouchon Bakery recipe. Next to the standard ingredients you'd expect, it uses a touch of molases and honey, some salt, and buttermilk. The key to great texture is to let the batter hydrate anything from 12 to 48 hours. I did not have the time to wait and was pretty happy with them, save for the molases taste that could be a bit less strong. But they were definitely not too sweet and had a lovely crispy outside when they cooled down, something you only get with homemade muffins.

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Oh, and you fold frozen, flour coated blueberries into the dough just before baking. The fruit came out perfect, but not firm, more like pocket of blueberry flavour in the cake, but not in a mushy way.

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One important tip is to use the type of blueberries that are best for baking: tiny wild ones. The cultivated marble-sized ones at most supermarket are too watery to bake well. Also, the skin is where the flavor is. So, the smaller the sphere the more surface area it has -thus smaller berries have more skin and more flavor. Many times these can only be gotten frozen, since they have a very brief season fresh. (two weeks?)

That said, the fresh berries are less likely to disintegrate. On the flip side, depending on where you've been eating muffins, some commercial purveyors actually use colored apple chunks in their blueberry muffins which remain much more intact and solid than is possible for a real blueberry. If you're used to eating those, and, here in Phoenix, even one of the best hotels in the world serves them, you're never going to duplicate that texture with any berry, ever.

Cook's Illustrated 'Classic Blueberry Muffins' from 2001 is a very good formula, I have used it extensively at work and customers really like it. (I add a dash of nutmeg.) http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/detail.asp?docid=5091 (The formula that uses sour cream.)

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One important tip is to use the type of blueberries that are best for baking: tiny wild ones. The cultivated marble-sized ones at most supermarket are too watery to bake well. Also, the skin is where the flavor is. So, the smaller the sphere the more surface area it has -thus smaller berries have more skin and more flavor. Many times these can only be gotten frozen, since they have a very brief season fresh. (two weeks?)

http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/detail.asp?docid=5091 (The formula that uses sour cream.)

That said, the fresh berries are less likely to disintegrate. On the flip side, depending on where you've been eating muffins, some commercial purveyors actually use colored apple chunks in their blueberry muffins which remain much more intact and solid than is possible for a real blueberry. If you're used to eating those, and, here in Phoenix, even one of the best hotels in the world serves them, you're never going to duplicate that texture with any berry, ever.

I only buy the frozen, wild berries from the Boreal forest in Canada. They have much better flavor than the plump, cultivated berries, and I much prefer their skin texture as well.

I'm familiar with that trick of using apples. Long ago I stopped buying commercial muffins afterexperiencing, once too often, the complaints mentioned in my original post. Some of the best blueberry muffins I've ever had were homemeade muffins enjoyed on my drive to Alaska, along the Alaskan Highway through Canada, and in some private homes in various places in Alaska. Those people know how to make blueberry muffins!

I'll look into the CI recipe.

 ... Shel


 

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The blueberry muffins from Stephanie Alexander are rather nice. They have a strong blueberry flavour and are fairly sweet - I would just cut the sugar a bit. Her recipe has you cut each berry in half which is time consuming but distributes them nicely and allows the flavour to go through the muffins. The halves stay reasonably intact.

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I have just made some last weekend, using the Bouchon Bakery recipe ... they were definitely not too sweet and had a lovely crispy outside when they cooled down, something you only get with homemade muffins.

Thanks for the pointer, Bojana. I've already found and downloaded the recipe.

 ... Shel


 

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Here is the recipe to the famous Jordan Marsh Blueberry muffin; you might like this. I actually most make something else, with lard (which I consider to be the secret); let me know if you want it.

Thanks ... I've downloaded and looked at the recipe. There are definitely a couple of aspects to it that interest me. I'd be interested in seeing the lard version.

 ... Shel


 

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