Holidays are a time for hosting family and friends. At this time we have friends visiting from Ireland and my brother-in-law and his good friend are also here. On Christmas day there were sixteen people with us for dinner. It was fun to seat everyone at our table in the Rockies and entertain big, much like we do back home in Ireland, but when morning came I really wanted everything to be easy. Don’t get me wrong, I love being Martha Stewart (and make every meal an event) but especially at this time of the year I want to be more Darina Allen (and make every meal simply delicious).
With this in mind, I baked the best blueberry muffins this morning. The recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated, May & June 2009. It takes about a half-hour to make but it’s so worth every minute of preparation. The recipe makes twelve. When our morning breakfast was through, we had only one left! Enjoy.
1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon finely grated zest from 1 lemon
2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh blueberries, picked over
1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus one teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons(1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. For the Topping: Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.
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 1/4 cup, almost 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. 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. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour, do not over mix.)
4. Use ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon a 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. 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. (Hint, I found the muffins to be top-heavy, so for the final five minutes of cooling I flipped the muffins over so they were resting bottom-side up).