There I was browsing my local produce market when I saw them. Blueberries. 11 oz containers for a dollar. One dollar. As in a buck. As in cheap. My husband pulled out his phone and did the math for me. These little babies come to the tune of $1.50 a pound. I consider $3 a pound at my local big box store a steal so you can imagine my excitement at coming across berries that were half that cost. I had to buy some. Lots.
I asked my husband to just start picking up the best looking containers and putting them in our basket. Three or four containers later, he asked me if that was enough. My head was swimming – muffins, pancakes, jams, sauces, bars… Enough? 4? No way. I could barely contain my excitement. I asked him to keep picking some while I got a cart. Clearly a basket would not do.
Eight baskets of blueberries later, I decided that I was pushing the limits of sanity. After all, I did just buy a 2 pound container from the big box store, bringing my total to 8 pounds of blueberries at home. It was time to bake.
As someone who loves to cook (and eat!), I believe things taste better when made from scratch. However, I’ve always believed that Betty Crocker has a corner on the muffin and cake departments and seldom take the time to bake blueberry muffins from scratch. Why measure out flour and salt and baking powder when I could open a box, add some eggs and oil, and voila! Muffins are ready to go in the oven. I was determined to find a recipe that was worth my while.
And after many tries I found it. Words cannot describe how much better this blueberry muffin is than your standard box muffin. My palate danced. The top is crunchy and sweet, the middle rich and “berry” nice (I’m awful, I know). My husband hates baked goods, and LOVED these. That speaks volumes.
best blueberry muffins ever
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ tsps finely grated zest
2 cups (about 1 pound) fresh blueberries, picked over
1 cup sugar, plus 3 tsp extra
1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I have used both APF and whole wheat pastry flour… both are delicious!)
1 cup cake flour*
2 ½ tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
4 tbsps (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
For the topping:
Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.
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 cups blueberries and 3 tsp 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 the mixture looks saucy. Cool while you combine rest of the muffin mix.
Whisk the remaining sugar and the rest of the dry muffin ingredients together in large bowl.
In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the wet ingredients and remaining one cup blueberries into the flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix).
Divide the batter among the muffin cups and then add a teaspoon or so of the blueberries and syrup to each muffin. Swirl the sauce into the muffin batter with a knife or chopstick.
Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins. Do not stir it in.
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 5minutes before serving.
*If you don’t have cake flour, just use all-purpose flour. The cake flour makes the muffins a bit more airy.
Suggestion: These are highly addictive. If you want to have any to yourself, hide them from all your roommates, family members, or relatives that might try to eat them while you’re not looking.