Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cook's Illustrated Best Blueberry Muffins

The "Best Blueberry Muffin"
Have you noticed all the beautiful berries showing up in the grocery stores lately. Even the prices are pretty good; at least in my neck of the woods. So last week, I picked up a gorgeous basket of big sweet blueberries. I planned on using them in a lovely fruit salad but, I came upon this recipe for the "Best Blueberry Muffins". Really!! Well, if  "Cooks Illustrated" made the claim, it must be so! I decided to give them a try.

These were actually pretty good. I made them for my grandsons. One of them ate three and the other only ate half of one! The Best Blueberry Muffin?? They were very good...not sure they qualify as the "best". In fairness to the recipe, I didn't make the cooked blueberry jam to stir into the batter. It was just too many steps too early in the morning!
I know I'll make these again. When I do, I'll take the time to try the jam swirled through the muffin and, I'll also give the streusel topping a try!

Mixing the batter was quite easy...I decided not to make the jam to swirl through the muffins. I did pop the blueberries in the microwave for a minute to soften some of the berries.
Ready to pop in the oven
They were pretty darn good!

Cook's Illustrated (May/June 2009)


Lemon-Sugar Topping
1/3  cup (21/3 ounces) sugar
1½  teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon
2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh blueberries, picked over
1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups (12½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk (see note)
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Note: If buttermilk is unavailable, substitute 3/4 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk.
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 ¼ cup, about 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 11/8 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 overmix.)
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 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.
BEST BLUEBERRY MUFFINS WITH FROZEN BLUEBERRIESNote: Our preferred brands of frozen blueberries are Wyman’s and Cascadian Farm.
Follow recipe for Best Blueberry Muffins, substituting 2 cups frozen berries for fresh. Cook 1 cup berries as directed in step 2. Rinse remaining cup berries under cold water and dry well. In step 3, toss dried berries in flour mixture before adding egg mixture. Proceed with recipe from step 4 as directed. 
BEST BLUEBERRY MUFFINS WITH STREUSEL TOPPINGFollow recipe for Best Blueberry Muffins, omitting Lemon-Sugar Topping. Prepare streusel by combining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, pinch table salt, and ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons (3½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour in small bowl. Drizzle with 5 tablespoons warm, melted unsalted butter and toss with fork until evenly moistened and mixture forms large chunks with some pea-sized pieces throughout. Proceed with recipe as directed, sprinkling streusel topping over muffins before baking. 
Follow recipe for Best Blueberry Muffins, omitting Lemon-Sugar Topping. Add 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest to egg mixture in step 3. Proceed with recipe as directed, sprinkling 4 teaspoons turbinado sugar over muffins before baking. While muffins cool, whisk together 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1½ tablespoons orange juice until smooth. Drizzle each cooled muffin with 2 teaspoons glaze before serving. 
BEST BLUEBERRY MUFFINS WITH ALMOND CRUNCH TOPPINGFollow recipe for Best Blueberry Muffins, omitting  Lemon-Sugar Topping. In step 1, combine 1/3 cup finely ground almonds and 4 teaspoons turbinado sugar; set aside. In step 3, add 1/3 cup finely ground almonds to flour mixture. Proceed with recipe as directed, adding 1 teaspoon almond extract with vanilla extract in step 3 and sprinkling almond topping over muffins before baking.


  1. These look great, Kathy! I'm intrigued by all the topping options. I'm sure I would have eaten 3, too!

  2. I love Cook's Illustrated recipes...and it looks like another winner! Perfect blueberry muffins!!!

  3. I'm always intrigued by any recipe calling itself "the best". Thanks for sharing all the variations!

  4. There's something quite wonderful about lemon zest combined with sugar - love that topping. And yes, am so pleased to see some really luscious berries turning up in the markets - early - but I'll take them. Would love to wake up my family with these muffins.

  5. It is such a pitty we don't have these berries in Greece! These muffins infused with those beautifully colored berries would be perfect for my breakfast!

  6. Kathy, Your blueberry muffins look delicious:) I like the sugar and lemon zest topping - nice flavors to compliment the blueberries. Great post:)

  7. I just love a good blueberry muffin with a cup of tea! I will have to try this recipe especially will enjoy the lemon sugar topping,yum;-)

  8. I love blueberry muffins, and these ones look great!

  9. what beautiful muffins!! so full of goodness and flavor!!
    mary x

  10. Too bad AZ does not grow blueberries. We used to like where we could pick them and they were so much better than what we get here...yours look so plump and juicy. And your muffins really do look good. I've decided that I need to get back to baking some semi-healthy foods...lately I've been on a huge butter-sugar kick. Your muffins look like what I seriously need to bake.

  11. Kathy-these are the BEST blueberry muffins. A real "classic." I've tried so many different recipes, but I'm totally convinced yours is the BEST! Bookmarking to try it!
    Have a wonderful weekend, and hope your weather stays as nice as it was today:DDD

  12. To be fair, I've never met a blueberry muffin that I didn't love so I'll have to try these! I love the idea of making blueberry jam for them (but maybe not so early in the AM :P)

  13. There is nothing better than a fresh homemade blueberry muffin out of the oven. And the fact that one of your grandson's ate three of them is a great endorsement of this recipe. :) They look wonderful! I will have to make these soon!

  14. These muffins look perfect! Do fluffy and blueberry studded :D
    Great post :D

    Choc Chip Uru