Blueberries are finally(!) in season in northeastern PA! We have about 30 bushes planted but their still quite small. This year, we were able to pick about a quart or two from our bushes. Luckily, my parent’s have about 50 very mature bushes. And, they are LOADED with berries this year.
For as long as I can remember, we’ve had those blueberry bushes. Throughout my thirty-some years, I’ve had everything you can imagine made with blueberries. But nothing’s better than the good old classic recipes — muffins, pancakes, buckles and pies! Last year, I shared my two favorite pie recipes — perfect, classic blueberry pie and a cool and creamy blueberry pie.
This year, I thought it would be fun to pit my grandmother’s Blueberry Muffin recipe against the re-tooled Best Blueberry Muffin recipe from America’s Test Kitchen — one of my favorite cooking shows (it’s on PBS). How would my grandmother’s recipe from years ago hold up against the professional remastered recipe from the Test Kitchen? First I had to find some taste testers! And, I didn’t need to look any further than my own living room! The hubs and the boy were ready, willing and able to step up to the plate (that pun was totally intended!).
So today, you’re getting a two-fer! Two Blueberry Muffin recipes for you to choose from…or hold your own taste-off!
Compliments of It’s a Keeper
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In a small bowl beat eggs and milk until combined. Add butter to egg mixture. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined. Be careful you don’t over-mix the batter — it will be lumpy. Gently fold in berries. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin. Fill each cup about 2/3 full.
Combine topping ingredients with a fork. Sprinkle muffins evenly with topping. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Compliments of It’s a Keeper
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated zest
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/8 cups sugar plus 1 teaspoon
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
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. To make jam: 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 jam to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick, 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.)
Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry jam into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion.
To make the topping, stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined. Sprinkle evenly over muffins.
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.
Is It a Keeper?
Let the taste-off begin! In the photo above, the test kitchen recipe are the purple-y muffins on the left (I’ll refer to the them as “Muffin A”) and my old recipe are the muffins on the right (Muffin “B”). Right out of the gate, you can see that Muffin A puffed up higher than Muffin B.
There were also some big differences in the recipes. Muffin A used buttermilk* rather than milk. And, there was a 1/2 cup more liquid in the recipe. Muffin A also used two eggs, instead of one. The batter for Muffin A was very wet, compared the quite dry batter of Muffin B. Muffin A also called for vanilla. Muffin B did not. Muffin A baked at much higher temperature for a shorter period of time. And, let’s not forget about the jam that was incorporated into Muffin A to help boost the blueberry flavor.
The recipe for Muffin A was created so that it had an intense blueberry flavor and a moist-tender texture. They definitely accomplished the moist-tender texture! Muffin A had a very nice texture — not dry at all. I’m sure the extra liquid and egg, along with the shorter baking time contributed to that.
Muffin A used a quick blueberry jam to help intensify the blueberry flavor. This added a few more steps (and dirty dishes) to the recipe. And, was a little difficult to incorporate into the muffins — I don’t think they were supposed to have purple tops! The photo in the cookbook did NOT have a purple top. Oh well.
Muffin B was much more dense. Not dry, just heartier. I knew it would be because the batter was very thick and dry. Because it was so thick, I only got 9 muffins out of the recipe.
But, which recipe tasted better? All four of my testers (moi included), preferred…..Muffin…..B! It wasn’t a hands down win, we each liked components of each muffin. But overall, Mammy’s muffins prevailed.
So, did the jam make a difference in the flavor? Honestly, not really. Now, let me preface this by saying that I used berries picked right off the bush. They were not the store-bought, watered down ones. I think both muffins had a great blueberry flavor! I don’t know that I would go through the steps of adding the jam again. However, if you’re using store-bought berries, you might want to try it. Oh, and don’t cheat by using store-bought, traditional blueberry jam. Muffin B’s version has much less sugar than regular jam.
The final verdict is, I think I will tweak my grandmother’s recipe by incorporating some of the techniques from the Test Kitchen’s recipe. But, since I always have access to the best blueberries (fresh or frozen), I won’t be using the jam.
Oh, and I almost forgot. My hubs didn’t like the lemon topping. Next time, I’ll make a cinnamon streusel topping! As soon as I perfect my recipe, I’ll be sure to share it on here!
If you decide to do the taste-off, I’d love to know what muffin wins!
*I didn’t have buttermilk on hand, so I made my own but putting 1 Tbsp of white vinegar into a liquid measuring cup and adding milk so that it made 1 cup of liquid.
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