Friday 18 October 2013

Blueberry Muffins

All hail the king of muffins, the blueberry muffin.

I wouldn't say necessarily that it is my favourite kind of muffin, just that it is the first kind to spring to mind when people say "muffin" and they don't mean something dirty.  My youngest woke me up at 6 today, and he in turn woke up his older brother.  Christopher came bleary-eyed into the kitchen and after saying "good morning" he asked in a pathetic, pleading voice "Mummy, can we make blueberry muffins?"

Now, 9 times out of 10 when I make muffins I just prepare the basic muffin batter out of Joy of Cooking and throw a bit of sugar on top before putting them in the oven.  But, hey, it's the holidays, and if you're up at 6 and not in a rush to be anywhere, you might as well make the deluxe recipe, no?

So I checked the freezer to see we did, indeed, have blueberries, then gathered all the ingredients together.

They are better with buttermilk, but I didn't have any.  Now I know I could have stuck some lemon juice in milk and waited a while for it to become buttermilk, but funnily enough I don't have the patience for that once I start baking, so I just used a mix of yogurt and semi-skimmed milk (that's 2% to you North Americans).  There's a boy hiding in this picture somewhere, can you spot him?

You start by cooking down some blueberries.  The theory behind this is that too many blueberries in a batter sink to the bottom, so be reducing some of them to blueberry preserves, you give them a consistency that will sit on top of the muffin rather than plummeting to the base.  There's just a dash of sugar in there, but if you wanted you could just skip this whole step and use blueberry jam.  I wouldn't judge you.

You can reduce it further than this, but at this point I lost patience and told myself it would keep cooking a bit more off the heat.  I just wish I had taken the spoon out right away and rinsed it, as now I have a bright blue stained spoon.

I was also having to keep an eye on this guy.  And since that machine is empty, I probably should have been doing laundry, too.  But then again, 6am is a bit early to start the spin cycle seeing as we have neighbours below.

I then went on to make the crumble topping: a mix of butter, flour, and whichever sugars you like.  Today I decided on demerara and caster as I like the crunch and molasses flavour of the demerara.

Now, normally I am not one for dirtying two bowls when one will suffice.  I tend to just throw everything except the berries in together at once for muffins and give it a quick stir before folding in fruit.  For some reason today I felt up to washing two bowls, so I did the flour mix in one and the eggs and sugar in the other.

I whisked the eggs and sugar...
Then added my milk& yogurt mix and some vanilla.

Then stirred until it was like that.  Then into the flour mix it went.

Then a bit of light mixing until it looks like something utterly unappetising that you'd find next to a bus stop on a Saturday morning.

Lumps are good here.  Finally, in go the whole berries (the ones you have not reduced).

As you can see, I didn't rinse out the measuring cup before putting in the blueberries.  Shhhh...don't tell anyone...

It doesn't look like many blueberries in it, but that's ok, they're just hiding.  And don't forget, more are added on top.

On to spooning them into the muffin tray.  Now SOMEONE in my house (no one will admit to it) took the muffin cases out of their storage tub and let them relax in the drawer where they expanded out a bit, so forgive me if they do not fit perfectly into their little muffin tin holes.

Now take your cooked blueberries and put just half a teaspoon or so of blueberries on top of each muffin.

Then take a toothpick (or "a sharp stick" as my daughter called it) and swirl around the berries.

Then, just as your patience is running out, distribute the crumble topping along the tops.  My daughter was very good at telling me where they were uneven, and which muffins needed MORE CRUMBLE THERE.

Put them in a super hot oven, and turn them for even baking halfway through.  If you have the option of glasses or contacts, use this time they are in the oven to wake up, get some caffeine, and put in your lenses so that you can see the blasted things when you open the oven door.

And then that is what you'll see!  Let them cool a bit in the tin before taking them out so that they don't fall completely apart.

My daughter enjoyed hers.  Yes, we drink out of old Nutella jars.  Usually we manage to scrape the label off first, but...well...*shrug*  

Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping

Streusel Topping
3 T white sugar
3 T brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
50g melted butter

2 cups blueberries
1 1/8 cups  plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 1/2 cups  plain flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly 
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk (or 1/3 cup yogurt and 2/3 cup milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to middle and preheat to 425 degrees F/210 degrees C

Prepare standard muffin tins with liners. Bring 1 cup blueberries, water,  and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing the berries against the side with your wooden spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced by about half.  This will take about 6 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool while you get on with the batter.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and well combined. Mix in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk (or the milk and yogurt mix) and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. 

Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups. Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick, toothpick, or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle streusel evenly over muffins.

Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, making sure to rotate halfway through to ensure even baking. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.


  1. I LOVE your blog! You are an inspiration to me :)

    1. Well, you are one of the few people I know who blogs regularly and skilfully!