A few months ago, I wrote about a formative cookbook in my earlier cooking days; the Company’s Coming series. There’s another book that has stayed in my collection and is still hauled out and used frequently. It’s a slim little book called Muffin Mania that was published in 1982 by a pair of Canadian sisters, Cathy Prange and Joan Pauli. It was an instant success and apparently sold over 500,000 copies worldwide. It is dedicated to their mother whose “love of baking inspired us to share this collection with muffin lovers everywhere”. That tradition of sharing is now carried on by a granddaughter who has created a blog to feature the recipes her grandmother produced. That’s the sort of thing that warms the cockles of my heart, folks! (Translation: that’s the old-fashioned version of “warm fuzzies”.)
I have tried many, actually most of the 63 recipes in the book, but this blueberry muffin recipe is one that I have baked times without number. I always add the lemon zest that it suggests doing in a footnote, and then dip the tops into melted butter and white sugar. This turns a basic muffin into something very special.
I can make these all year using frozen blueberries that I put into my freezer last summer. Here’s a tip I learned many years ago: put a bit of the required flour into a flat container with sides (a cake pan or wok work well), add the frozen blueberries and gently shake them from side to side until they are all covered with flour. This keeps them from bleeding unattractive purple juice into your batter. Then you gently fold them into the batter at the very end just until mixed.
Tip #2: using an ice cream scoop with a squeezable handle creates uniformly round muffins with minimal mess.
See? Not much bleeding happening there. Now take a look at the finished product. Isn’t that beautiful? I think so.
Cultivated blueberries or wild ones? Essentially it boils down to what you are used to eating. Wild blueberry lovers claim they have more flavour, cultivated blueberry lovers like the plumpness and juice in the domestic ones. I’ve had both, and I’ve picked both. Domestic ones grow on high bushes that you stand upright to pick; wild ones are on low crawling shrubs that require one to creep around over northern rocks on one’s knees while keeping an eye out for bears. I would certainly rather pick the domestic ones and absolutely understand the high price of the wild ones. They are both fantastic when they are fresh.
Blueberries are one of the easiest things in the world to freeze; empty the container of fresh blueberries onto a paper or cloth towel, pick out the little stems and leaves, and put them in zipper bags to freeze. I usually freeze them in two-cup quantities. I know some people wash them first, but that is a giant pain, because they have to be perfectly dry before going into the freezer. I figure any lingering impurities won’t withstand the deep freeze.
This post is sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm. The recipes, views and stories are my own.
Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Remove and cool for 10 minutes. While they’re cooling, prepare the melted butter and sugar for the topping. You will need to melt about 1/3 cup of butter and have 1/2 cup of sugar ready in a bowl. Dip the tops first into the butter, then into the sugar and place on a rack to finish cooling. *The original recipe calls for plain milk, but I have found that buttermilk produces a much fluffier muffin. To accommodate that switch, I swapped part of the original baking powder amount for baking soda.
Blueberry Lemon Muffins
DirectionsPreheat oven to 375°. Set aside the 2 tablespoons of flour in a baking pan or wok. Stir together the remaining flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. Add the frozen blueberries to the 2 tablespoons flour and shake them gently from side to side until completely coated. Whisk together the egg, melted butter, buttermilk and lemon zest, and gently fold into the flour mixture. Do not beat. When it is almost incorporated, add the blueberries and finish folding everything together. Scoop into paper-lined muffin cups. An ice cream scoop works really well for this.
Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Remove and cool for 10 minutes. While they’re cooling, prepare the melted butter and sugar for the topping. You will need to melt about 1/3 cup of butter and have 1/2 cup of sugar ready in a bowl. Dip the tops first into the butter, then into the sugar and place on a rack to finish cooling.
*The original recipe calls for plain milk, but I have found that buttermilk produces a much fluffier muffin. To accommodate that switch, I swapped part of the original baking powder amount for baking soda.