Everybody loves muffins, whether it be the tops, the stumps, or the whole thing, and when I think muffins, I think blueberry muffins. Something about them is just comforting, warm, and inviting at any time of day. Whether it be a not-so-healthy breakfast or a mid-day snack, the fluffy, perfectly spiced muffins, sweet, oozing blueberries, and delicious, sweet and crunchy topping of these blueberry muffins are just there for you whenever you need a little something.
In searching for blueberry muffin recipes for inspiration, none of the batters really appealed to me. I instead decided to approach this like I would a cake, for in my mind, muffins are like cupcakes are like cakes, so there you have it. I thought I could get a fluffier, richer tasting muffin this way, and in the end, my wife and I were thrilled with the results. Its actually a great foundation for a variety of muffins–say, when blueberries are out of season and cranberries are in, you still deserve a mouth-watering muffin for breakfast (or a snack):
I’ve certainly been professing my ongoing love for my KitchenAid mixer since I got one this past Christmas, and this was another such delightful experience. Creating a butter-based cake batter, while not necessarily challenging, can be a bit of work what with all of the thorough mixing/creaming of ingredients one at a time all the way from start to finish. Instead, I realized that I could simply have all of my ingredients measured out and ready to go, and with the KitchenAid mixing away, I could just add things in one at a time, watching for when it would be ready for the next step. This made forming the batter a phenomenally quick process, as if I had another person helping me in the kitchen.
- 2 cups flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups blueberries
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 whole stick butter
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup flour
- dash cinnamon
- dash nutmeg
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2T unsalted butter
Modifications for cranberry muffin batter:
- 2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen, instead of blueberries
- 3/4 tsp orange zest
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
Just so you don’t have to worry about it later, preheat the oven to 375°F and grease the cupcake pan well with butter.
The first step, as with any butter-based cake batter, is to cream the butter. So with a room temperature stick of butter and some sort of electrical mixer (stand mixer, hand mixer, whatever), beat the butter until it becomes really creamy. This helps give the muffins a lot of fluff and airiness later so this step is important and you should resist the temptation to just melt the butter.
Now, add the sugar to the creamed butter and mix this just enough to fully incorporate it into the creamed butter. Then, do the same for the vanilla extract and the eggs (one at a time! Crack it, mix it well, and then do the next one). The mixture might start to look a little funny (not so homogenous) with the eggs, but don’t worry–its normal so just mix it well and continue forward now that you have a nice, creamy looking mixture.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, sift the flour (light and airy flour means light an airy baking!) and mix this with the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Now, like with cake batter, work in thirds. Pour approximately 1/3 of the dry mixture into the wet mixture and mix this well just until it comes together. Then, pour in 1/3 of the buttermilk, also mixing just as much as necessary to mix things until fully incorporated. Repeat this process until you’ve added all of the dry and all of the buttermilk, and in the end, a nice, thick, and airy batter will be your reward.
The last thing that the batter needs: blueberries. Very gently fold these into the batter, for if you approach the berries with too much force, they’ll burst and color your muffins bright purple/blue, which, while some times intentional and quite appealing, this is not what you want in your muffins. Just fold them into the batter enough to distribute somewhat evenly throughout.
Evenly distribute this into your greased cupcake pan, shaking it a bit to try to help settle the batter and release any sizable air pockets.
With that out of the way, onto the streusel topping. This is very quick work. Pour the hazelnuts into a plastic bag, squeeze out the air, seal is shut, and beat on them with a hammer/meat mallet until crushed into coarse, small pieces (not a fine powder!). Then, in a bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), mix these with the flour, spices, and cold pieces of butter. Coarse crumbles should form and may not be perfectly mixed, but that’s just what you want.
Distribute this crumble mixture evenly over the tops of your muffins-to-be, sprinkling on every last bit.
Transfer this to the oven. After 5 minutes, drop the temperature to 350°F and continue to bake for about 25 minutes more. Check that a tester comes cleanly out of the center of the biggest muffin, and if it doesn’t, give it 5 more minutes. Once time is up, let them cool off for about 5 minutes before you try to remove them from the cupcake pan and set these aside to cool off for a little bit before you dig in. And beware of hungry bystanders.
Don’t seal these in an airtight container right away, or they’ll go from nice and firm to kind of moist and slightly soggy on the outside. After about an hour or two though, I’d say go airtight. Like blueberries, they don’t keep terribly long (e.g. 2-3 days out in the open, maybe a week in the fridge), so enjoy, and enjoy soon!