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Blueberry Muffins – Variations Abound

Blueberry Muffins 24 Tin

Blueberry Muffins are the most oft selected muffin.  But of course!

Blueberry Muffins are the bomb. Well what else are we going to say at Bleuberet? It is our staple fruit.  Our staple ingredient. Hand me a muffin with blueberries any day and it will make my day. Dab a dollop of blueberry jam, and I’ve died and gone to heaven. By the time you have baked a batch, I am sure you will feel likewise.

Blueberry Muffins are so simple and great for a crowd

First off, they are the number one muffin eaten. Presented with muffin flavor options, most will reach for the blueberry. Perhaps it is the health benefits of those sweet-tart wild Maine blueberries, or maybe it is an attraction to the color blue, regardless, blueberry muffins are at the top of the muffin ranking lists (backed up by (Ranker,The Top Tens) Blueberry muffins might be topped with streusel, sweetened with maple syrup, or end up in a corn muffin base, as long as the the taste of the blueberry shines through with each juicy, purple bite, the batter is just the vehicle to hold the blueberries. Double, triple, quadruple the recipe – make them for a crowd, or eat them all yourself. Having a party? Buy a professional size muffin tin at a commercial restaurant supply store.  Mini muffins, make a lot.

Blueberry Muffins
Blueberry Muffins
Blueberry Muffins
Blueberry Muffins 24 Tin

Blueberry Muffins vs Scones vs Quick Bread

All made with flour, most with butter, sweetened just enough to make them mouthwatering, some might say it is just a muffin of a different shape, a muffin in disguise. No, no, no, no, no.

  1. Muffins – individual little uniformly golden rounds of joy. Easy to hold. Perfect for large and small hands alike. Rarely messy. Captured in paper cups or uniformly crusty bases,  bountiful with berries, what is not to love? Mix, scoop, bake, eat. Add butter or jam if you wish, but really, they are meant to be eaten straight from the tin.
  2. Quick bread – one solid shape, baked in one big rectangular pan, golden crust top of whole loaf and bottom. Only two pieces can claim a third golden side on one end or the other, and finally, it has to be sliced. A blueberry bread requires either a fork and plate, or the risk of sticky fingers from hand eating.  Frequently the slices are doubled up and made into a sandwich thickly spread with butter or cream cheese. Already feeling the extra work here?
  3. Scones – there is something very prim and proper on the horizon. A three-tier tray with scones at the top. Creamy, flaky, rolled, cut, baked and golden on the top. Hot tea and clotted cream, jam, but of course. Scones are a favorite and they do have their moment and place in the day, yet they seem a luxury.

What are the origins of Blueberry Muffins?

Well, a Pandora’s box of answers is what I discovered. Muffins in general seemed to have originated in 10th or 11th century Wales (reference.com) or in 18th century England as an alternative treat to eat with tea (ifoodtv). Take your pick and when the blueberries got mixed into the batter who knows, but I bet it was a Mainer who did it.

Little tidbit of info to throw in here – Minnesota claims it as their state muffin. As far north as Maine, and a region where blueberries may be found, they are different to their Maine counterpart, and please do forgive me dear Minnesota BFF, but come now, no one ever says, “wild Minnesota blueberries.” That moniker is reserved for Maine. Personally, I think that the origin of muffins is that someone wanted a smaller, bite-sized cake, and then a Mainer came along, and as they are apt to add blueberries to many things, tossed them into the batter.  Hence the blueberry muffin was born.

Are Blueberry Muffins good for you?

Ah, yeah. Depending on what type of flour is used, the liquid ingredients added and other ingredients such as bran or wheat germ can significantly add to the health benefits of the blueberries’ antioxidants. The simple answer, yes, blueberry muffins are good for you.

Protein amounts will vary based on flour used, eggs, milk or yogurt. There are too many options to give an exact number, but if you are looking for a high protein muffin, use a high protein flour, eggs and Greek yogurt (all foods that are higher in protein to begin with).

Fiber? Blueberries themselves offer a bit of fiber. If more is desired, replace some of the flour with bran.

Can Blueberry Muffins be vegan?

Why not! They can be made without butter, without eggs, and without milk or yogurt. BUT, the texture will be really different. If a soft crumb, fluffy muffin is on the docket, the elimination of eggs, butter, etc. will significantly alter the texture of the muffin. It may taste fine, but the texture will not be that of a regular flour/butter/milk one.

The science of baking:

BAKING IS A SCIENCE. We had our friends from Little Notch Bakery and Lucy’s Granola to dinner on a chilly fall evening. Lucy’s Granola described how making granola was an art. The balance of flavors, the correct amount of time in the oven to create the perfect blend of flavor and toastyness, was truly an art.  Both Little Notch and Bleuberet simultaneously chimed that bread making/baking and jam making, while finding the right flavor balance was the art part, the actual doing is purely science. Baking requires a dry, to wet, to binding, to rising balance of ingredients and then once bound in wet form, baked at the perfect temperature to hold together as a solid AND achieve that perfect golden glow. (With jam it’s the taste and gelling factor, but we are not talking jam here, we are talking muffins.)

Substitutions in baking, but not all substitutions are created equal:

It may seem easy to change out an ingredient, but best to find a recipe that has already tested it out. (Some recipe suggestions with alternative ingredients can be found at the bottom of article.)

  1. Liquids: whole milk, skim milk, oil, sour cream, applesauce, coconut/almond/rice milk, buttermilk, yogurt, Greek yogurt, juice
  2. Sweeteners: sugar, cane sugar, agave, artificial sweeteners, maple syrup, honey
  3. Berries: with frozen blueberries, canned blueberries, fresh blueberries, organic
  4. Toppings: with lemon glaze, crumble, streusel
  5. Flours: corn, whole wheat, organic, buckwheat, white, cake, potato/rice, other grains
  6. Deletions: without eggs, milk, white sugar

Can leftover oatmeal become a muffin base?

Wondering what to do with leftover oatmeal? It can make the perfect base for blueberry muffins. Instead of adding dry oatmeal, which can leave the muffins dry with tough little pieces of unsoftened oatmeal, save that pot of porridge and use it in place of the flour in the recipe.

Pros and Cons of blueberry muffins with Bisquick® or prepackaged muffin mixes

  1. PROS: Pretty easy. Cut open box and bag of dry, pre-combined, dry ingredients.  Follow the recipe. Bake for the prescribed amount of time.  Cool on rack. Eat.
  2. CONS: Someone else has decided the quality of the dry ingredients to be used. There is no control over taste other than the wet ingredients added.
  3. Conclusion: when baking it is always better to bake from scratch. The type of dry and wet ingredients is totally up to the baker. Taste, quality of ingredients, and types of flour, baking soda, etc are totally within the control of the baker.

Topping it off

Some like their muffin tops golden and untouched by a topping, while others love a brown sugar streusel. It is a personal preference and the recipes are many.

  1. Brown Sugar Streusel
  2. Oatmeal Streusel Topping(for fruit, but can be used on muffins too)
  3. Pecan Streusel Topping(comes from a sweet potato recipe, but adapt!)

How to make vegan and/or gluten free Blueberry Muffins

Many are trying to make the switch to a plant-based diet. There are ways to substitute ingredients, but it will affect the texture of the muffin. The good news: liquids can be substituted without sacrificing moisture. BUT the amount may have to be adjusted to get the right consistency based on the type of flour being used. Eliminating eggs? That is a tough one. So far there is nothing that has been shown to replace the binding that an egg does in baking. For moisture – applesauce is frequently used, but it will create a denser moist muffin than the sponginess or spring texture that egg provides.

More on Vegan Ingredients:

There are lots of ingredients that can be substituted for milk and butter. To some degree liquid is liquid and fat is fat. What needs to be taken into account is the type of liquid being used.  Skim milk might be replaced by apple juice, but whole milk replaced by apple juice is not quite the same.  Whole milk has fat and binds differently when cooked.  So, it is not that the liquids cannot be interchanged, it is that the consistency will be different. It is all about understanding that this is science and the binding of ingredients greatly affects the outcome. Question is – what is the baker and what is the eater expecting?

Going Gluten Free:

Some go gluten free due to allergies and intolerances.  Others just want to go with the dietary trend of lessening the amount of gluten in their diets. Again, not all substitutions are created equal, and it is a balance of texture and taste that one must adjust to when eliminating gluten from the diet.

  1. Corn flour does not absorb moisture in the same way that wheat flour does. It tends to be a bit drier.
  2. Potato and rice flour create a very dense and moist texture.
  3. And rye, spelt and other flours vary. Do some research to understand how to switch flours in recipes.

Odds and ends:

Many recipes call for mixing the blueberries with a tablespoon or so of flour prior to adding them to the batter. The thought is that this will prevent them from sinking to the bottom.  This is not a foolproof method.  It varies with the dry to wet to frozen to fresh to room temp. You get the drift. There are so many variables at hand, that this method usually works with a basic muffin recipe such as Fannie Farmer’s.

  1. Lemon zest. Lemon is a favorite pairing with blueberries. Zest or juice, the flavor complements the berries with vibrancy. If a recipe calls for it, this is one ingredient to not omit.
  2. Buttermilk vs milk. Science and flavor. Buttermilk adds a slight tang. Yogurt can do the same.
  3. Muffin tin liners, melted butter, cooking spray, coated muffin pans.
    1. Muffin tin liners make for easy removal from the muffin tin. They tend to collect moisture and the cooked muffin sticks to paper.
    2. Butter or oil. The purpose is to create a barrier between the batter and the tin. Usually the batter will stick.  The best way to make the butter/oil barrier work is to put the butter or oil in each muffin well.  Then put the pan in the heated oven without the batter for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the oven and scoop the batter in while the pan is piping hot.  This forms an instant crust and will allow for very easy removal from the tin.
    3. Cooking spray. Too little tends to be sticky and not work as well as some other methods. Too much and the outside of the muffin may be damp
    4. Coated muffin tins do require a light coating of something. Also check the manufacturers recommendation as to adjusting cooking temperatures.

Blueberries run:

The juice is purple and it will leach into your muffin. Frozen or fresh – blueberries are juicy and it is rare to see a blueberry muffin that has not left a little trail of purple through the muffin.  If it has not leaked a little, or not turned the batter purple (a hazard of using frozen blueberries), question it.

How long do blueberry muffins last?

That depends on how hot they are and how quickly my children can remove them from the tin.They have been known to scarf a dozen muffins in one sitting, and there are only two children.

How should Blueberry Muffins be stored?

Out of direct sunlight as one would with any other baked good. If worried about countertop storage, they will do fine in the fridge. A warming to room temperature or popped into the oven (wrap in foil to keep moist or place on a sheet and cut them in half for a toasty crunch) will remove the fridge’s chill and bring the flavor back.  Stored on a plate or in a covered food container, they will last at room temperature (maybe not on a 90°F/35°C day), for a couple of days. They have never made it more than 24 hours in my house, unless it is a triple batch, and then there may be a few stragglers left for breakfast the next morning.

Can Blueberry Muffins be frozen?

As long as they are well wrapped, they can certainly be frozen. Freezer burn, as with any moist food is the issue.  As an ardent promoter of vacuum sealing everything, properly cooled, individually wrapped and then placed in a sealed bag (vacuum or doubled baggie), the muffins should keep for about a month frozen. Allow them to come to room temperature and then warming them on a sheet pan will bring them back to an edible state. Eaten straight at room temperature after freezing, will leave the outside a bit gooey and gummy.  A few minutes of toasting in the oven will take that away. Eat with butter, jam or straight up.

Blueberry Muffins – Variations On The Theme:

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins– See below Blueberry Muffin Recipe
Milk – Inspired Taste
Cornbread Blueberry Muffins– Giada de Laurentis via The Food Network
Vegan all the way – May I Have That Recipe
Vegan with applesauce – you will need to add the blueberries – The Pretty Bee
Honey Bran – Cookie + Kate
Streusel Topped – OMG Chocolate Desserts (don’t let the title fool you)

Bleuberry Muffins

Print Recipe
Serves: 12 Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 16 oz/455g whole wheat flour or a blend of whole wheat/white flour
  • 2 tsp Bakewell Cream*
  • 1 tsp baking soda*
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 oz/125ml maple syrup
  • 4 oz/125g melted butter, plus extra for greasing the muffin tin
  • 6 oz/175ml buttermilk*
  • 8 oz/250g fresh or frozen blueberries (allow to defrost or it will clump the batter and will take much longer to bake

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C

2

Defrost blueberries if using frozen.

3

Place blueberries in a small bowl and sprinkle with 2 TBSP of flour. Set aside.

4

Melt the butter and allow to cool.

5

Blend the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, minus the 2 TBSP of the flour sprinkled on blueberries.

6

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, syrup, butter and buttermilk.

7

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquid in three additions. Mix until the batter is moistened.

8

Add the berries and blend so as to disperse them through the whole batter. Stir gently. Make sure to blend in the extra flour that may have accumulated at the bottom of the bowl.

9

Grease the muffin tin and place in oven for 3-4 minutes until butter is bubbly and starting to smoke (do not allow it to turn black, or it has burned and will affect the taste of the muffins. This creates a crust on the outside of the muffin.

10

Remove hot tin from oven.

11

Using a muffin or ice cream scoop, evenly distribute the batter through the muffin tins.

12

Bake for 30 minutes approximately.

13

The muffins are done when a toothpick or tip of a knife comes out clean and the tops are golden brown.

14

Allow to sit for a few minutes before removing from tin.

15

Cool on a wire rack.

Notes

*We mix our own baking powder with Bakewell Cream and baking soda. If you do not want to do this step, simply use 1 TBSP of Ammonia Free Baking Powder. *Buttermilk is found in two places in the grocery store - the cold section and it comes in a quart sized container. BUT, unless you have someone in the house who drinks buttermilk, chances are the remainder will get thrown away. Buttermilk powder is the preferred way to go in the Bleuberet kitchen. It keeps for a long time, can be made in the quantity needed, and means there is no running out to the grocery store at the last minute. Honey can be substituted for maple syrup.

May the blueberry of happiness land in your muffin. Bluberry Muffins, they make life worth living. Click To Tweet

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