Saturday, July 2, 2011

Blueberry Muffins: New York Times vs Cook's Illustrated

My mom has gone blueberry picking thrice just within this week. The blueberries take up about half the space in our freezer and there is no more room. More are sitting out on the counter waiting to be eaten or frozen. I would estimate that a total of 50 pounds has entered this house. This only means I need to get my apron on and become a mad scientist (or a mad baker/cook?). I'm going to try to make as many different foods as possible with the overflowing blueberries.

First up, muffins. I've saved tons of blueberry muffin recipes so that I can eventually weed out the ones that I don't really like. I made half-batches of two different recipes in order to do a comparison test. As with anything else, it was difficult to choose which two to start with, but I eventually landed on what Cook's Illustrated calls the best blueberry muffins and a recipe from the New York Times cookbook (that's gotta be good, right?).

Jordan Marsh's Blueberry Muffins

So far, the score is two against one. My sister likes Cook's Illustrated's recipe because it is more dense and it uses oil and butter as opposed to all butter. My mom and I like the NYT recipe because it's a bit sweeter. I also love the sweet crunchiness of the top. NYT's was less of a hassle to make as I don't need to make a quick version of blueberry jam to swirl into the muffins. My swirling skills are not up to par, so they really didn't turn out too well. If I were to make Cook's Illustrated's muffins again, I would opt not to make the jam, but I would definitely go for the lemon sugar. I didn't this time, but I wish I had! I'm sure it would have made these muffins taste a lot better. I don't think that would've changed my mind too much though so I wouldn't necessarily call them the best.

Best Blueberry Muffins

Jordan Marsh's Blueberry Muffins (New York Times recipe) [Makes 12 muffins]
From Indochine Kitchen

- 2 cups all purpose flour (280 g)
- 1/2 tsp salt (3 g)
- 2 tsp baking powder (8 g)
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter (120 g), soften
- 1-1/4 cups plus 1 tbsp sugar (280 g plus 1 tbsp)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk (125 g)
- 2 cups blueberries, rinsed and picked over (250 g)

1. Grease muffin cups. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
2. Cream the butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar in a large bowl, until light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add to the flour mixture alternately with milk, beating just until smooth.
3. Crush 1/2 cup blueberries with a fork, and mix into the batter. Fold in the remaining whole berries.
4. Fill the muffin cups with batter. Sprinkle the remaining tbsp of sugar over the tops of muffins. Bake at 375F (190C) until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan. Store, uncovered, or the muffins will be too moist the second day.

Best Blueberry Muffins (Cook's Illustrated recipe) [Makes 12 muffins]
From Tracey's Culinary Adventures

For the lemon sugar topping
- 1/3 cup sugar (2 1/3 oz)
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon zest (about 1 lemon)

For the muffins
- 2 cups (about 10 oz) fresh blueberries
- 1 1/8 cups sugar (8 oz) plus 1 tsp
- 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp table salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temp
- 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. To make the topping: Combine the lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl and rub together with your fingertips until fragrant.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 F with a rack in the upper third. Spray your muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Combine 1 cup of the blueberries along with 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, mashing the berries with a spoon and stirring frequently. Continue cooking until the berries break down and the mixture has a thick jam-like consistency; the volume should be reduced to about 1/4 cup. Transfer to a small bowl and cool to room temperature.
4. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. In another large bowl, whisk the remaining 1 1/8 cups of sugar and the eggs together until pale yellow and thick. Whisk in the butter and oil until combined. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and whisk to incorporate fully. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture along with the remaining 1 cup of blueberries. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold until the dry ingredients are just moistened - the batter will be lumpy, that's fine. Don't overmix.
5. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared wells of the muffin pan - each well should be completely full. Add one teaspoon of the blueberry jam to the center of each well of batter. Use a skewer to gently swirl the jam into the batter. Sprinkle the muffins with the lemon sugar.
6. Bake for 17 to 19 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are golden and they spring back when gently pressed. Transfer the muffin pan to a wire rack and let the muffins cool for 5 minutes before removing them to cool completely.


✿⊱╮Terri said...

Which recipe is Cook's Illustrated and which is the NYT recipe?

Chrissy Kim said...

The first recipe is NYT recipe and the second one is Cook's Illustrated. Sorry for the confusion. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Lily said...

Another question, which photo of muffins is which? Is the top photo the New York times (since it is the top recipe) or not?