Making Blueberry Muffins

There’s a big misconception out there that muffins are supposed to have highly domed, even conical tops. Nonsense. A peaked top is a sure sign that a muffin has been over-mixed, and that means it’ll be chewy, even gummy to the tooth. That’s not a good muffin in my book. I prefer them melt-in-your-mouth tender. Just out of the oven, when they have a touch of crispness on them, they’re a sort of an American version of paradise.

They’re mixed, unsurprisingly, via the muffin method. That’s a fast-and-easy technique that you’ve probably used before. It simply means combining (gently) two mixtures: the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients, then panning and baking. Easy! So let’s go. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Next sift/whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. That’s the dry side of the equation.

Now for the wet side. Combine the butter and the sugar (yes, that’s classified as “wet” since it dissolves so quickly in water) in a bowl.

Beat those together until they’re fluffy, then beat in the egg, sour cream and milk.

It’ll look about like this:

Now all you have to do, spatula in hand, is apply the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.

Gently mix everything together.

You’ll want to just bring the mixture together. If you see a few spots of unmixed flour left, so much the better.

Add in the berries and gently fold them in as well, just until they’re evenly distributed.

Now all you need to do is fill your forms with batter and bake! You don’t need to use cupcake liners if you don’t want to do that. Just make sure your form is well lubricated.

While the muffins are baking you can get a window into how well you mixed as you wash up. Pay attention to the behavior of the residual bits of batter as you wash out your bowl. If the batter simply dissolves in the water stream, you’ve got a superior muffin to look forward to. If it puts up a fight or leaves stringy/rubbery deposits on your wash cloth or sponge, you’ll want to ease up on elbow grease next time, killer.

This is what you’re after: a tight crumb with a few irregular holes, but no “tunnels” caused by gluten formation. I think I’ll put the kettle on.

12 thoughts on “Making Blueberry Muffins”

  1. Hi Joe! It’s so unusual that u didn’t use melt the butter here (as most muffin recipes do). Are there any special reasons for that?

    1. Call me crazy, but creaming the butter first does seem to give the muffins a little extra lightness. It shouldn’t necessarily be so, since so many other liquid ingredients get added. All I can think is that the little clumps of butter that remain in the liquid mixture introduce a few more air bubbles. Skip the step if you think I’m crazy, which I may well be!

      – Joe

      1. What about whipped the eggs to a foam first, like in genoise? That should be a good way to introduce more air bubbles into the batter?

        1. I wonder of that might be over-doing it a bit…might dry them out a little. But it’s sure worth a try!

          – Joe

    1. Hey Jacki!

      A few streaks of unmixed flour are acceptable, even preferred, whenever you mix lightly or fold. A little unblended flour will hydrate and bake in the oven. You’ll never notice it.

      – Joe

  2. Joe, my mom is always on the hunt for the “perfect” blueberry muffin recipe and I think I’ve found it! Your site is glorious and I’m been lost in it for hours! Thank you for sharing your wonderful talents!

    1. Thanks so much, Annie B.!

      Great to have you aboard! Let me know if this is indeed the magic recipe your mom is looking for. If not, I’d be curious to know what her criticisms were!

      – Joe

  3. I made “superior” muffins (the batter slid right off in the water)! My family loves that I found your site, because I’ve been baking up a storm. My 11 year old said these were the best muffins he’d ever tastes, and my 2 year old at 3 of them, and begged for more. When I told him he couldn’t have any more, he replied, “But I need more delicious muffins, Mommy!” We’ll see what my husband has to say when he gets home from work. Thanks so much for such an amazing site!

  4. I made them again today (at my family’s request!). I only had 1 egg, so I substituted 1/2c of milk for the egg, and they turned out even better than the first batch!

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