When is a Cupcake a Muffin?
My Quest for the Perfect Blueberry Muffin
I worked for years to create my vision of a perfect blueberry muffin, soft, moist, tender, and bursting with blueberries with only lemon zest to accentuate them and a whisper of nutmeg in the crisp sugar topping. Although I had arrived at my idea of perfection, I discovered that both my husband Elliott and my protégé David thought they were too cake-like and wanted a coarser muffin-like texture.
I made a batch using my original recipe but mixing by mixer rather than by hand, which strengthened the structure of the batter, making it firmer and coarser in texture. David and I were both happy with the result but Elliott still wanted a drier firmer muffin. After giving it about 1-1/2 hours of chemical analysis of ingredient ratios, comparing my muffins to scones, which are more like a cross between a cake and a pastry than are muffins, I came to the ridiculously simple solution. All that was needed was more flour!
Here is the recipe originally published in The Bread Bible but with now with my newest version--the mixer method. And, if you prefer your muffins to be more muffin than cake, use the higher amount of flour.
6 small soufflé, custard cups, or a 6 cup muffin pan, lined with foil or paper liners, lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray (see Notes).
|unsalted butter (65˚ to 75˚F/19˚ to 23˚C)||4 tablespoons (1/2 stick)||2 ounces||56 grams|
|sugar||1/2 cup||3.5 ounces||100 grams|
|lemon zest||2 teaspoons||.||4 grams|
|1 large egg, preferably Safest Choice Pasteurized||3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoons (47 ml)||1.7 ounces||50 grams|
|pure vanilla extract||1 teaspoon||.||.|
|bleached all-purpose flour||1 cup plus 2 tablespoons to 1-1/4 cups, lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off||4.7 to 5.3 ounces||135 to 150 grams|
|baking soda||1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon||.||.|
|fine sea salt||1/4 plus 1/16 teaspoon||.||.|
|sour cream||1/3 cup||2.7 ounces||80 grams|
|small blueberries, rinsed and dried||3/4 cup||3.5 ounces||100 grams|
|Topping: sugar||3/4 teaspoon||.||.|
|nutmeg, freshly grated||a dusting||.||.|
Preheat the Oven Thirty minutes or longer before baking, set oven racks at the middle and lowest levels. Preheat the oven to 375˚F/190˚C.
Make the Batter
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the flat beater, cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add 1/2 the flour mixture with 1/2 the sour cream and beat on low speed until it is fully incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour and sour cream. With a silicone spatula, fold in the blueberries.
Spoon batter into the muffin cups. Dust with sugar and nutmeg.
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until they spring back when pressed lightly in the center and a wooden skewer comes out clean. Set the pan on a rack and allow the muffins to cool for about 15 minutes before unmolding them.
Notes: I like to use muffin liners as they keep the cupcakes fresher. If using muffin pans, spray them before setting them in the cups to prevent the spray from baking onto the pan.
If using frozen Maine blueberries, do not defrost them but toss them with about 2 teaspoons up to 1 tablespoon of extra flour to keep them from staining the batter when mixed in.
Frozen muffins can be reheated in a preheated 400°F/200˚C oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until a metal cake tester inserted briefly into the center feels warm.