Perfect Blueberry Muffins

The last time I made my usual blueberry muffin recipe, I wasn’t as happy with it as I remembered. Those muffins overflowed and flattened out, more of a mushroom shape than a nice, mountainous muffin shape. It was about then that Alton Brown published an updated version, which I tried – and wasn’t thrilled with because they were way too big, among other reasons. (His assertion that everyone loves a muffin top is inaccurate.) So I was pretty excited when Smitten Kitchen updated her blueberry muffin recipe. It made fewer muffins (9, a good number for a family of 2 1/2 people), looked easy to make, and took ingredients I had as long as I still had blueberries on hand.

I was impressed when I tried the recipe. The muffins assembled easily and quickly, and they turned out perfectly, as promised. They were fluffy and moist, even after a couple of days, and had lots of blueberries strewn throughout them. (Alex actually would like a little more muffin, and a little less blueberry.) I liked the hint of lemon in the muffin. The muffins rose and domed nicely – no batter overflowing onto the muffin pan and flattening out. I think this has become my new go-to muffin recipe.

blueberrymuffin

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Pear Walnut Muffins

Bread Week 4: I said that I wasn’t going to make muffins for my weeks of bread, and I hadn’t planned to, but that’s what I’m going to share with you tonight – some of the most delicious muffins I’ve ever made, and they are gluten-free to boot. Week 4  of Bread was supposed to be cornbread again – a delicious and simple cornbread. I actually made it twice for various reasons, and one batch was a full quarter inch shorter than the other; a third attempt is clearly needed. So, I’m going to bend my rules since I didn’t intentionally make muffins for Week 4.

pearwalnutmuffins3

I’m glad to have the excuse to share these with you. My adaptation of these Pear and Hazelnut Muffins are one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. They are delicious. Seriously, you need to make these muffins. When Deb at Smitten Kitchen posted them, I lamented that I couldn’t make them while I am on a gluten-free diet – until I read the preface to the recipe where she suggests a few gluten-free flour alternatives to use, and I read the comments where a few readers reported success making them gluten-free. Heartened, I made them last weekend to have as a snack for this week, and I am so, so incredibly glad that I did.

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Banana Muffins

Don’t throw out your speckled bananas. Don’t throw out a banana out even if the entire banana turns brown. Those super-overripe bananas are perfect to use for baking. If you don’t want to peel and freeze them, just stash them in the fridge, ugly peel and all, until you’re ready to use them. They’ll stay useable in there for another 2 weeks that way.

I was in possession of some very, very overripe bananas but was bored with my usual recipes. Luckily, I already had this Banana Muffins recipe bookmarked. They were the perfect thing to have for snacks or breakfast on a recent road trip.

Banana Muffins
Banana Muffins

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309: Cinnamon-Crunch Sweet Potato Muffins

When Alex suggested I make cinnamon crunch muffins, I came across the recipe for Cinnamon-Crunch Sweet Potato Muffins. I was intrigued, and I happened to have some sweet potatoes in the house to make them.

First step is to cook sweet potatoes. I did this when I had a little down time in the kitchen a few days before I wanted to make them. Just peel, chop, and boil until tender, which took about 15 minutes for me. My blender was dirty, so I just put them in the fridge to blend/mash them the day I made the muffins.

On Saturday morning when I made the muffins, I added the milk to the sweet potatoes to make them easier to blend. I mixed that into the other wet ingredients, and then added it to the dry ingredients which I’d already mixed together. I used the zest of half an orange rather since all I had around was a partially-zested orange. I filled the muffin cups close to full but I still had some extra batter, which I put in a mini-Bundt cake mold. I topped the muffins with the cinnamon sugar mixture, and baked them exactly 20 minutes, until a toothpick came out clean.

The flavor of these was pretty good. I definitely could taste the orange in them, as well as the sweet potato; the zest complimented the earthy flavor of the sweet potato. I enjoyed the pecans in them, too. However, I found that I didn’t enjoy them as much as leftovers. The texture was a little spongier than I’d like in a muffin, probably from the sweet potato in it. The taste was still okay, but I just didn’t enjoy that much. Alex still liked them, though, so I think it’s just a matter of them not quite being my kind of muffin. Alex thought they reminded him of pumpkin muffins, and I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin. Give this a try if you like sweet potatoes and are willing to have them in muffins – you could halve a batch.

303: Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins

Sometimes when Alex suggests that I make things, I take him seriously and look a recipe up. I told him about how much my friend’s muffins on Sick of Food made me want to make muffins, so he helpfully suggested I make cinnamon crunch muffins. I did a quick search yielded a recipe for Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins, which sounded so good that I had to make them as soon as possible.

There were 3 parts to these muffins: streusel topping, cinnamon filling, and the muffin itself. The recipe was pretty easy to make – there were simply a lot of separate steps. I used a pastry cutter to blend the butter into the rest of the streusel topping (which I may not have done very well). I made the filling by mixing together butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar (the King Arthur Flour’s suggestion if you don’t have their brand of Cinnamon Filling).

To make the batter, you mix milk and eggs with melted butter (or margarine, as I used), combine all dry ingredients (including sugar and cinnamon/butterscotch chips), and then add dry ingredients to the wet ones. My margarine seized up when I added cold milk to it, which I was afraid would happen. I heated it up a little to get it to mix together better. I mixed the batter until the ingredients were just combined.

I used a 1/8 cup (2 tablespoon) measure to spoon batter into the muffin cup liners; it was the perfect amount to put in each cup. I had a 2 teaspoon measure to use to divvy up the cinnamon filling, but I think that I actually got more like 1 teaspoon (or 1 1/2 teaspoons) filling in each. I topped the filling with another 1/8 cup of batter and sprinkled streusel on top. There was about twice as much streusel topping than I could get on the muffins.

I baked these for about 27 minutes, until toothpicks inserted into the muffins came out clean.

Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins

These muffins were pretty good. They were moist and baked up well. The cinnamon filling was good, although I wish I had spread it out to the edges. Honestly, it reminded me a lot of the filling from Brown Sugar Cinnamon Poptarts (which makes sense, since it was just cinnamon and brown sugar and butter!). I wish the streusel had come together better because I enjoyed the few nuts that were on top. The oats in the muffin gave some bites a chewier texture to contrast with the fluffy muffin. I wasn’t impressed with the butterscotch chips in the first muffin I had, but I really enjoyed them in the ones I had later for breakfast. I think these were great muffins overall. Even though they were a little more work to put together, they’re worth it for a treat. Filled muffins would be especially neat if you were feeding guests. I’d make these again.

95: Banana-Nut-Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ever since my friend Starr mentioned making Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, Alex has wanted me to make them. I acquiesced and found a recipe for Banana-Nut-Chocolate Chip Bread that had muffin directions.

I actually used all of my vegetable oil over the weekend with my frying adventures, so I used a little olive oil in these instead, and this wasn’t a problem. I was surprised that these took diced bananas rather than mashed. Dicing the bananas was easy, though – you just quarter the banana lengthwise with the peel still attached, and cut the bananas into the appropriate size dice. I liked this because then you could pick up the peel and just slide the bananas off into the bowl. I think that the two cups was about 3 smallish bananas.

Banana-Nut-Chocolate Chip Muffins

These were fine. We both liked them. I wasn’t particularly in the mood for banana muffins, so I’m not the best judge. At times I liked the diced banana – at other times I didn’t. Will I make them again? Probably not until Alex asks for them again.

70: Alton Brown’s (Chocolate Chip) Old-School Muffins

It seems like I make a lot of muffins – and I certainly have this year. Truth be told, this time I was just looking for something to make for breakfast on Sunday morning. The muffin recipe seemed easy and quick enough after I spent plenty of time going back and forth on what to make. Alex wanted chocolate chips in the muffins, so that’s what I used.

Alton Brown’s Old-School Muffins

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
a pinch salt
½ cup sugar
½ cup oil
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup yogurt
1-2 cups ‘bits and pieces’ (nuts, berries, chocolate chips, or any combination thereof – Alton suggests only up to 1 cup of chocolate chips)

Place baking rack in center of oven and heat oven to 375F. Grease/flour muffin tin. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine sugar, oil, eggs, and yogurt.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until batter comes together. Add add-ins. Divide batter between the 12 muffin cups. Cups should be full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into bottom of muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and immediately turn muffins onto their sides so that steam can escape.

I only had ¾ cup yogurt, so I made a quarter cup of sour milk to add to the yogurt. Perhaps because of that, I baked these a full 20 minutes. I added 1 cup of chocolate chips as my add-in.

Alton Brown’s (Chocolate Chip) Muffins

These were good muffins. Very soft and tender. The yogurt makes them very moist. I strongly recommend this recipe. (His blueberry muffin recipe, available at Food Network, also takes yogurt – and it’s also fantastic.) I may try omitting the egg yolk whenever I make these next, because I don’t really like separating eggs. I’ll definitely make these again.

51: Honey- and Cheese-filled Fig Muffins

I’ve been wanting to make Honey and Cheese-filled Fig Muffins for a few months now, but there was always something I needed. First it was the figs. Then it was buttermilk and cream cheese. Then I realized that I should wait to make them because we already had breakfasts for the week. So I planned to make them on Sunday evening, when I could try one right after I baked them and have them throughout the week.

This recipe originally took goat cheese, but said I could use light cream cheese instead. I usually don’t like cheese, but I do enjoy sweetened cream cheese in cheesecake and frosting, so I figured I would like this. I followed the recipe pretty closely. I’m generally prone to dumping everything together at once, but I mixed everything in batches separately as the recipe directed. I’m glad I did, because you do need to whisk the eggs, egg white, brown sugar, buttermilk, and olive oil together first to get it to blend. I didn’t measure the figs, because I couldn’t use more than what I had leftover from Valentine’s Day. Rather than chop them by hand, I put them in my Magic Bullet blender, which processed them into more of a chunky paste. I had to separate them into chunks with a fork in the batter so that I wouldn’t end up with a few giant clumps of fig. I baked them the maximum 15 minutes.

Honey and Cheese-filled Fig Muffins, fresh from the oven

These baked very nicely. I have some in cupcake wrappers because I may freeze them. I normally don’t fill muffin cups so full, but I didn’t want to have to pull out another muffin pan. Assembling these was a little more complicated than usual because you have a surprise in the center…

“Oh my god, cream cheese!” – Alex

You have to put batter in the bottom of the cup, spoon a generous teaspoon of cream cheese filling into the center, and cover completely with more batter. This definitely needs to be about half of the batter on top, not just a thin coating – I had one muffin that’s slightly split on top so that I can see the cream cheese. I wish I had spread the cream cheese closer to the edges than I did in the picture above, but that’s a personal preference. I also had a little cream cheese mixture leftover (you need about 6 ounces of cream cheese here – don’t bother scooping it into a measuring cup, as I did).

These are very tasty, and hearty. They’re a little time-consuming for muffins, but I’d make them again. And I would definitely be sure to include the lemon-cream cheese center.