BEST BLUEBERRY MUFFINS WITH FROZEN BLUEBERRIES

Makes 12 muffins.   Published May 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.

If buttermilk is unavailable, substitute 3/4 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk. Our favorite brands of frozen blueberries are Wyman's and Cascadian Farm.

INGREDIENTS

Lemon-Sugar Topping
1/3 cup sugar (2 1/3 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon
Muffins
2 cups frozen blueberries
1 1/8 cups sugar (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk (see note)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 1. FOR THE TOPPING: Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.

  2. 2. FOR THE MUFFINS: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to ¼ cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

  3. 3. Rinse remaining cup berries under cold water and dry well. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Toss dried blueberries in flour mixture. Then, using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture into blueberries and flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)

  4. 4. Following photos below, use ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.

  5. 5. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

Making Muffins with Blueberry Flavor Through and Through

1. MAKE BERRY JAM
Cook half of fresh blueberries into thick jam to concentrate their flavor and eliminate excess moisture.

2. ADD FRESH BERRIES
Stir 1 cup of fresh blueberries into batter to provide juicy bursts in every bite.

3. PORTION BATTER
Scoop batter into muffin pans, completely filling cups.

4. ADD JAM TO BATTER
Place 1 teaspoon of cooled berry jam in center of each batter-filled cup, pushing it below surface.

5. SWIRL INTO BATTER
Using chopstick or skewer, swirl jam to spread berry flavor throughout.

RECIPE TESTING

When More Isn't Better To boost berry flavor in a muffin, simply adding more blueberries isn't the answer. With too many in the mix, the berries sink to the bottom, weighing the muffin down.

WEIGHED DOWN