Lauren Groveman a recipe for delicious living

"Loaded with Blueberries" Muffins

(August 3, 2006)

Darcy asked Lauren:
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My neighbors went blueberry picking and brought me a large box of the biggest, sweetest blueberries I've ever eaten! I was wondering if you had some ideas for what I could do with them. I love blueberry muffins but whenever I've tried to make them at home, they always look flatter than those I see in the local food shops. I appreciate your thoughts (and I've loved every recipe of yours that I've tried!)

Lauren says...

What nice neighbors you have! My suggestion: Next time, ask to join them on their fresh blueberry picking expedition! I remember those days when Jon and I and our three kids would go blueberry picking in the heat of summer (July is peak blueberry season), and we would come home with so many blueberries (even after the kids ate several hundred) along with a gazillion blueberry stains on our hands, clothing and sneakers. It was great fun as well as educational, and I highly recommend going to different fruit orchards on weekends with the kids and picking the "fruit in season."

Fresh-picked blueberries are sturdier
than those that you buy in the store since they haven't been sitting in a market for days before you find them and make your purchase. So, when you get them home, they should say good (firm) for a week, when stored in the refrigerator in a well ventilated box or bag. And, for best texture retention, don't rinse blueberries until just before you eat them or use them in a recipe.

Overloaded with Blueberries? Flash-FreezeThem!

Rinse berries and place on shallow baking sheet lined with doubled paper toweling. Gently pat and roll berries until dry. Remove paper towel and place sheet (uncovered) in the freezer. Once frozen, pour berries into a heavy-duty plastic bag. Place into another bag for added protection against the formation of ice crystals. To retain best texture, use berries straight from the freezer without thawing.

When searching for ways to use fresh blueberries
, one easy thing to do, for breakfast, is to serve the berries in a bowl in a shallow pool of orange juice (fresh is best). Although simple, this really is a remarkably good combination.

Or, make an impromptu (free form) fruit pie!

First, make a pie dough (for a 10-inch single-crust pie). Then chill the dough, wrapped in plastic, until its firm but not too hard (1 hour). Meanwhile, preheat the oven 400°F. Then, take 6 cups blueberries and toss them in a bowl with 1 to 1 cups of granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice mixed with 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of cubed cold unsalted butter.

To set up to roll the dough, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or place a 10 inch pie pan on your counter. Tear off two sheets of wax paper and sprinkle one piece lightly with some flour. Unwrap your chilled pastry dough and place it on the floured sheet of paper. Sprinkle the top of the pastry with some more flour and place the remaining sheet of paper on top.

Roll out the dough between the paper into a large round, between 1/8 and 1/4 thick. Peel off the top sheet of paper and, using the paper that the dough is sitting on to lift it, invert the dough either onto the parchment lined baking sheet or directly into the pie pan (you can also place the pie pan into a paper lined baking sheet, which makes cleaning up easier, after baking)

Now, it's time to assemble your pie. After inverting the dough, peel off the wax paper from the top of the dough and use a pastry brush to remove any excess flour. Pile the blueberry filling into the center of the dough and pull the sides up so it creates a 1 to 2 inch border, enclosing the filling but keeping it visible in the center (pleat the dough over onto itself, as you pull it up and gather it, while pressing gently to adhere).

Glaze the top border of pleated pastry by brushing it with milk or with an egg wash made by mixing 1 egg with 1 teaspoon water (then strains it to remove excess coagulation, making it easier to apply with a pastry brush). Sprinkle the glazed pastry liberally with more granulated sugar and bake the pie in the preheated 400°F oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the filling is piping hot, thickened and the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the pan cool on a rack before slicing into wedges. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

No, I didn't forget that you asked for a muffin recipe. The reason why your muffins are on the flatter side is, mostly likely, either because the batter is too loose or the amount of leavening is "off." Using a bleached, all-purpose flour also will help your muffins to be the most tender. Here's a recipe for my favorite Blueberry Muffins (I make them all summer long). Remember to follow my "timing" strategy, so that you and yours can enjoy that wonderful taste and aroma even on the busiest week day morning.

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"Loaded with Blueberries" Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

Blueberry Muffins

These muffins are extremely light, tender and not too sweet! And when baked within insulating paper liners and wrapped individually in pliable plastic wrap, they stay soft and tender for days after baking. To enjoy these blueberry muffins throughout the year, flash-freeze fresh blueberries at the end of July and beginning of August when they are most abundant and voluptuous--some are so large, they resemble grapes! And because there's nothing like the taste of a freshly baked blueberry muffin first thing in the morning, follow my Timing Tips and provide yourself and family with a delectable (and aromatic) way to start your day! Oh, and if using frozen blueberries, don't thaw them first. You will need to bake the muffins a bit longer to account for the colder temperature of the batter when entering the oven.

    Special Equipment:
  • 12-cup standard-sized muffin tin, preferably nonstick
  • Paper muffin liners (optional)
  • Nutmeg grater (optional)
  • Batter whisk or wide blending fork

    Ingredients:
  • Melted butter or nonstick vegetable spray, for muffin tin (use vegetable spray if setting your tin up the night before baking)
  • 3 cups bleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
  • 1 1/4 cups cultured buttermilk
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup flavorless vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plump fresh blueberries or unthawed frozen berries
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar or vanilla sugar, for topping

1) To set up: Preheat the oven to 400o F. If not using paper liners, brush with melted butter or spray the interior of a 12-cup nonstick muffin tin. Even if using paper liners, butter or spray the tops of the tin, in between each muffin cup.

2) To assemble batter: Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl and combine thoroughly using a whisk. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, vegetable oil, brown and white sugars and vanilla. Mix well, making sure that there are no lumps of brown sugar). Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and, using either a batter whisk or a wide blending fork, combine the mixture gently but thoroughly. Gently, fold in the blueberries using a rubber spatula and take care not to overwork the batter or rupture the berries.

Blueberry Muffins 3) To bake: Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup and mounding the top (using all of it). Sprinkle tops generously with some granulated sugar. Place the tin into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325F and bake for 5 to 7 minutes more or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center and the tops are golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and place the tin on a wire rack. Cut in between each muffin (where the edges merged during baking), carefully lift out the muffins and stand them on a rack to cool. Allow muffins to settle for 10 minutes before enjoying warm.

4) To store: Muffins to be served on the day of baking should be placed on a tray and, once cool, covered with aluminum foil. Those to be stored for the next day should be wrapped individually in pliable plastic. Either way, they should be stored at room temperature.


Lauren Logo Freshly Baked Muffins for Breakfast

The night before, combine all of the wet ingredients, cover well and refrigerate. Whisk together all dry ingredients and leave at room temperature. Line tins with paper liners and spray tops of tins. In the morning, preheat oven, re-mix the wet ingredients and gently combine this with the dry ingredients and then fold in berries. Fill tin, pop into the oven and set your timer for 20 minutes.

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Lauren Groveman recipes have been featured in many national magazines and local newspapers. Her books "The I love to Cook Book: Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking for Family and Friends" and "Lauren Groveman's Kitchen, Nurturing Food for Family and Friends" are available through Amazon.com. Lauren hosts an hour-long, "live" weekly radio show, Food Family & Home "Matters," on 1460 WVOX.

For in depth information on Lauren Groveman as a writer, teacher, TV & radio host, as well as her recipes and cooking tips visit her website at www.laurengroveman.com

Lauren is a Larchmont resident. She is happily married and blessed with three wonderful children.