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I have to admit, I don’t make muffins very often. But whenever I do, it’s like a revelation. They’re so easy! Most can be made in one bowl. And, unlike a cake, you don’t have to worry about appearance—those handy paper liners hem them in and make them easy to transport. I just love that there’s such a small bit of fuss for a big payoff: the appreciation you’ll get from those with whom you share them.
This fantastic recipe, from Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More by Carole Walter (Clarkson Potter, 2007), takes a little more work than most, but the results are worth it. Walter writes, “These blueberry muffins are absolutely heavenly. They are flavored with a hint of lemon zest and are topped with a thick layer of buttery streusel crumbs. To overcome the problem of the berries sinking to the bottom of the muffins, instead of folding the berries through the batter, I top the batter with a handful of berries. Then I cover the berries with a generous handful of streusel. The blueberry muffin lovers in your life are in for a real treat.”
1 small recipe Carole’s Favorite Streusel (see below)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup (11/3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and well dried
Prepare a small recipe of Carole’s Favorite Streusel. Set aside.
Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 14 muffin cups with paper or foil cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the lemon zest and mix on medium speed until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Add the sugar in a steady stream, then blend in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, dividing the flour into three parts and the buttermilk into two, starting and ending with the flour. Mix just until blended after each addition.
Portion half scoops of the batter into the prepared pans using a No. 16 ice cream scoop (1/4-cup capacity). [Editor’s note: A half scoop would be 1/8 cup of batter.] Place a layer of blueberries evenly over the batter, then place a dollop of batter on top of the blueberries. It’s OK for the berries to show. Take a handful of the streusel topping and crumble it over the batter and berries, completely covering the tops of the muffins with the crumbs. Press gently to adhere. Brush any stray crumbs from the top of the muffin pans using a small pastry brush.
Bake for 25–30 minutes, or until the streusel topping is golden brown. To ensure even baking, toward the end of baking time, rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.
Store at room temperature, tightly wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to three days. These muffins may be frozen. Makes 14 muffins.
6–7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Place butter in a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat until almost melted; remove from heat and cool to tepid.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and nuts if using. Add to the butter and stir with a fork until blended and mixture begins to form crumbs. Gently squeeze the mixture with your hand to form larger lumps, then break them apart with your fingertips. Before using, let the streusel stand for 10–15 minutes.