Thursday, January 22, 2015

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Binge, bender, jag - I get on these kicks, these I-can't-stop-obsessing-on-this-thing kicks. For instance, we ate this salad once a week, every week this summer and often times I also ate the leftovers for lunch. Its not just recipes either - I'm currently binging on books. I can go a few months without reading more than a magazine and then I get on a book bend and - poof - I'm gone. I've read three books this week and I'm trying to decide what to read next. Suggestions welcome.

I've also got a bit of a bread bend going. If you follow me on Instagram you know I'm currently on a quest for my ideal sandwich bread recipe. Last week I made a batch of soft pretzels just because it was a grey drizzly day. And muffins, I've come down with a case of the muffins.

In culinary school, there was kind of this running joke amongst us baking-and-pastry folks that muffins are kinda like the medicore back-up singers of the pastry world. I mean, they're no cupcake! Muffins are fine and lovely, but when you choose a muffin for breakfast what you're really saying is - 'I wish I was having a cupcake'. And let's be honest, muffins aren't really that much healthier than cupcakes. Sure, they usually have some fruit thrown in, but they're still full of sugar and fat.

I had forgotten how lovely a really good a muffin could be! I made a version of these muffins for Ella's preschool birthday treat with chopped strawberries and mini chocolate chips, which we all adored. I didn't want to sugar-load a bunch of 3 year olds with full sized cupcakes, but a muffin is sweet enough to feel like a treat, without too much sugar, plus like I said before, there's fruit in there! I've made another batch with diced pears. Today I needed to use up some blueberries that had been in the freezer a little too long. You can basically use any fruit you want here.

And easy, muffins can be thrown together in less time than it takes Ella to watch an episode of 'My Little Pony' - which is important because those 21 minutes of peace are more precious than gold.  My secrets to a really delicious muffin are yogurt instead of buttermilk in the batter and streusel on top. Streusel makes everything better*.

Some tips for muffin baking:
Do not over mix - Whisk together your dry ingredients, stir together your wet ingredients, and bring them together gently or you'll end up with a tough muffin.

 Use an ice cream scoop or fisher to make each muffin exactly the same size. Bake your muffins in a rising oven (I actually learned this from biscuit baking)

Preheat the oven to 375 degree fahrenheit but crank it up to 400 when you put the muffins in.

Cool the muffins in the pan for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

*actual fact

Blueberry Streusel Muffins
yield: 12 muffins

streusel topping:
½ cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

blueberry muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup greek yogurt (or buttermilk, which I never seem to have on hand)
1 large egg
½ cup canola or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen,

Heat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Line a 12 cup cupcake, er, muffin pan with paper cups.

Make the streusel: Stir together the 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Work the butter into the flour an sugar until it resembles coarse crumbs and holds together when pressed. Refrigerate while you prepare the muffin batter.

Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, egg, oil and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined. Batter will be thick. Fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups - about a 1/2 cup of batter per cup. Sprinkle streusel over the top.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Bake for about 20 minutes until the topping turns golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for about five minutes, then remove muffins from trepan and cool on a wire rack.

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