Friday, July 8, 2011

At Home: Big Blueberry Muffins

After sampling cuisines from around the world, I decided to come back to the good old U.S. of A. for our nation's birthday. This recipe for blueberry muffins is from Farms and Foods of Ohio by Marilou K. Suszko, and they're so simple and delicious. As indicated by the title, the book not only gives you ways to use ingredients, but where they came from. There are wonderful stories about the various Ohio farms, vineyards, and even a shrimp pond! 

Eating locally and seasonally have become full-grown movements, and everyone has heard the benefits of reducing your carbon footprint, supporting local businesses, and better tasting foods. I did my best to stay true to the book's message: the blueberries I bought came from New Jersey, the eggs from Brooklyn, and the milk from upstate New York. And although I do enjoy the NYC greenmarkets, all were available at my grocery store. If you want to learn more, a great resource is the Sustainable Table Food Calendar. Just select your state and season, i.e. New York and Early July, and it will tell you what is in season for your area! 

Big Blueberry Muffins 
(from Farms and Foods of Ohio, page 27)

Makes one dozen

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
3 1/2 cups sifted flour all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups blueberries
Coarse sugar for sprinkling
parchment paper or paper muffin cups

1. Rinse the blueberries in cold water. Double check them for stems, they're are always a few that still have them!

2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave. Set aside to cool. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the melted butter and the milk.

3. In a separate bowl, sift in the flour. Add in the baking powder, sugar and salt. Add to the egg mixture and mix until just blended, less than one minute. It will be a thick, sticky dough if you overdo it! If you want to get fancy, you can add a dash of vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest. Fold in the blueberries, being careful not to burst them.

4. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. This is the secret to "crispy, crunchy bakery-store crowns" - don't skip it!

5. After 1 hour and 55 minutes, preheat the oven to 400 F. Take the bowl out and let it warm up a bit while you prepare the muffin tin. I used parchment paper instead of paper liners, and it's very simple to do. Cut four 5" wide strips of paper, then hold them together and cut into thirds. Now you have 12 squares that will give the muffins a professional look, and allow them to puff up without the "mushroom" shape that sticks to the pan.

6. Put a spoonful of batter into the center of the paper and then lower it into the tin. Repeat with the other papers, and use the remaining batter to top off each one. Sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

7. Remove from the oven and let cool before removing from the pan. If you used the parchment squares, just grab the corners and pull them out to cool on a rack.