Saturday, October 10, 2009
For some reason lately, I have been really in the mood for muffins for breakfast. Baking muffins is a wonderful way to start your weekend. Most muffin recipes are very easy to make, as long as you remember to not stir the batter to death (more on that later), and the ingredients are usually simple things most people who like to bake have on hand anyway. In about 10 minutes, you can usually whip up the batter, add in your fruits or other flavorings, and bake. In a half hour or so you have a lovely batch of warm, tender, fluffy, delicious muffins and your house smells like a coffee shop.
Since my waistline would not be happy with me if I ate the entire batch, I usually set aside however many I plan to serve and eat over the next few days, then give a few away and freeze the rest. My neighbors are usually quite appreciative of my excess baking treats and the rest that do make their way into my freezer sit there quite happily for up to one month. I freeze them in individual portions, so that I can take one out while I am getting ready in the morning. They keep really well frozen and thaw out quickly.
One of my favorite blueberry muffin recipes came out of an old community cookbook published in the 1980s, and the recipe supposedly came from Jordan Marsh's cafe, which was known for its sugar topped blueberry muffins. Jordan Marsh used to be a big department store, but eventually got gobbled up by the bigger Macy's. Luckily for the world of blueberry muffin eaters, one of their head bakers and holder of the cherished muffin recipe went into business on his own, selling bakery items for several years under the name The Jordan Marsh Muffin Company. Unfortunately, this shop eventually closed after the baker retired, and that icon of the 80s was gone for good.
I remember visiting a Jordan Marsh store years ago, although I sadly never got to sample one of their famed muffins. Therefore, I am not certain if these taste exactly like the originals, but they are quite scrumptious muffins. Versions of this muffin are all over the internet, but this particular version is a bit different because it particularly mentions crushing some of the fresh berries into the batter first, and also has the sugar coated tops. I also have this recipe posted here already if you would like an easy to print and less long-winded version.
Before you begin, I must tell you a few things about this recipe. First, you really must use cupcake liners or your muffins will stick like mad to the tins, even if you have fairly good quality nonstick pans that you have greased well. Trust me, I tried, and I offer my picture of a sadly torn muffin as evidence. Also, having made these with butter, margarine and shortening before, I have to say my current preference for this recipe is to use the margarine. It seems to make them a bit softer and puffier. I used butter this time and although they still tasted really yummy, for that coffee shop domed-top look, the margarine really does the trick best. You can also mix half butter and half margarine or shortening if you prefer.
The third and most important rule about this recipe is to use fresh berries only, frozen just make them soggy. Even if you thaw and drain the berries, which you would need to in order to mash some of them into the batter, they just come out subpar. If you can't get your hands on fresh blueberries, you can either use a different fresh berry or I am sorry to say, a different recipe.
Ok, lecture over, we can now begin ;)
Jordan Marsh Fresh Blueberry Muffins (as adapted from a recipe found in Enough to Feed an Army)
(12 large muffins)
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and drained well (do not use frozen, sorry)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup margarine or butter or shortening, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
coarse sugar, for topping the muffins (demerara works well, or sanding sugar)
Preheat your oven to 350 F and line 12 muffin tins with cupcake liners. You might also want to grease the tops of your tins around the edges of the holes, as these muffins will tend to grow out a bit.
Mash 1/2 cup of your berries and set them aside for now. Mix together your dry ingredients: the baking powder, salt, and flour. Sprinkle a few spoonfuls of the flour mixture over your remaining whole berries and toss them to coat. You don't need a lot - this is just to dust them with a little bit of the flour mixture so that they won't all sink to the bottom of the pans while baking.
Cream together the butter and sugar until it is well blended, then beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after you add each. Beat in the mashed berries. Put your mixer away and grab a wooden spoon and stir in some of the flour mixture, some of the milk, and then some more of the flour mixture, alternating until it has all been mixed in. Remember when I mentioned earlier about not stirring your muffin batter to death? Overmixing muffin batter just makes it tough and makes your muffin tops flat. You just want to get everything blended, not beaten.
Gently stir in your flour dusted whole berries. Scoop the thick batter into your muffin tins. Sprinkle coarse sugar over the tops of each muffin. I was all out of demerara sugar when I made these for the picture, so they are missing their lovely, crunchy, sparkly tops.
Bake for about 25-35 minutes, testing with a toothpick to see if they are done. The toothpick might come out wet if you poke it into a berry, so don't be alarmed. If, however, you see wet batter sticking to your toothpick, the muffins are not quite ready yet. Allow the muffins to cool for about 10 minutes in the tins before removing them to wire racks to cool. These are best when still a little warm.
at 9:17 AM Posted by Heatherfeather