26 March 2015

Big top blueberry muffins

Sometimes you just want a muffin with a big top. I'm tempted to end this post at that, but it'd defeat the purpose : ) These muffins were a last minute idea to continue chipping away at my carefully frozen stash of last August's Jersey blueberries before fresh seasonal berries kick in again. When I stumbled upon the recipe, from Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery, I knew I was in good hands, (remember her banana bread?) and when I realized the batter can be made a day before baking, I immediately got out a mixing bowl. As the dishwasher ran last Friday evening after a day of the season's final snow, and we were feeling quite healthy from a supper of Japanese salmon and rice, I decided that bakery-style berry-streaked muffins were a qualified indulgence for the next morning.

I was inspired last week by a quote I read from Jenny (Dinner, a Love Story): "When we prioritze dinner I find a lot of other things fall into place." Behind this seemingly simple statement, she is referencing sports practices, school pick-ups and other modern family negotiations, but it's bigger than that. The essence of this idea that I find applicable in the kitchen and beyond it is this: to know what you are going to do. Waking up to a clean counter and a bowl of rested batter in the refrigerator is a particularly zen moment. Then, all you have to do is preheat the oven, grease the tin and scoop the thick batter into the molds, mounding it a little higher than you would normally. The resulting muffins are perfectly sweet, gloriously puffed, with slightly crisped edges, soft interiors and berry-licious flavor. But for me, it's knowing I already did the work, that will keep me coming back. 

Blueberry Muffins (adapted from Flour via Fine Cooking)

Notes: The original recipe uses a pound of flour. Below is a half recipe which should give you 7-8 big muffins. I made a quarter batch which gave me four. But they freeze well so it's worth making more : )

1 3/4 cups (225 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour (I swapped a few Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2.5 oz (5 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled
1 large egg
1/2 an egg yolk (optional)
1/2 c + 2 Tbsp  (120 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (120 grams) milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup (120 grams) crème fraîche, at room temperature 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
zest of half a lemon
Heaped 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

-Oven to 350, rack in the center
-In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking powder and soda. Set aside.
-Pour butter into medium bowl and whisk in the sugar, followed by the milk, creme fraiche and egg. Mix well.
-Pour wet over dry and fold together gently. When there are a few streaks flour left, sprinkle in the berries and fold to combine. Batter will be lumpy. Do not try to smooth or overmix. 
-At this point you may cover the batter and refrigerate up to 24 hrs. 
-When ready to bake, grease muffin tins and spoon batter into cups, mounding above the top by about 1/2 inch. 
-Bake until golden brown and springing back when you touch the middle and a wood skewer comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Let cool on a rack in the tin for 15-20 min. 

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