I love surprises.
I’m in one of those “cookbook of the month” things. You know, one of those six cookbooks for a dollar send in the card every month deals. The selection has deteriorated considerably since I enrolled about three years ago. I’m to the point where I’m too lazy to cancel my membership and I have a recurring event on my cellphone every month to basically inform the clowns not to send me anything.
But this time… I saw something.
And I completely forgot that I ordered it. I saw the package in front of my door a week later, and, being senile, I just stared at the box primordially as if it were the monolith in 2001.
Anyway, I had completely forgotten that I had ordered THIS:
After thumbing through for just a few minutes, I was instantly impressed. The book is logically organized among several different classifications of baked goods, has pictures that are not only beautiful but often instructional, and has individual recipes laid out in a way that makes it easy for ADD-addled Misenplacers like myself.
And Nick Malgieri is a masterful teacher. He doesn’t overcomplicate by overexplaining, but takes enough time explaining why certain steps are important to a finished product (like why you overseason tarts before adding the egg, for example.)
I knew, right then, I had to take the book out for a spin.
While I do cook a bit throughout the week, I do nearly all of my baking on Sundays. I do a yeast bread nearly every Sunday afternoon and, more to the point, a batch muffins on many Sunday evenings. Usually plain, with a drop of orange oil or some mushed up fruit, or, in the summer, cherries and almonds. Or chocolate chips if I’m feeling sassy.
I consider muffins health food. Because they deliver carbs and therefore happiness in the morning and it keeps me away from the poorly stocked vending machine in our building. Yes, this is a rationalization, but there are worse things I could eat than these.
These were unusual, slightly complicated, yet utterly worth it Blueberry Crumb Muffins. The following recipe is more akin to a cake then to a quickbread or muffin, as the sugar and butter are creamed together with dry goods added in installments alternately with the dairy, rather than the wet/dry/mix a little three-step thing one usually sees. The result is a softer, if slightly less “rich” product.
The other key plus about these muffins is the blueberries neither seeped out juice into the batter or sank to the bottom. The key, according to Malgieri, is to prep the berries by rinsing them and then placing them on a baking sheet lined with paper towels for a while. This wicks away most of the exterior moisture.
Blueberry Crumb Muffins
from The Modern Baker
For the Crumb Topping
1 C AP flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t freshly ground cinnamon
6 T unsalted butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 1/2 C AP flour
2 t baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
I stick of softened unsalted butter
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 pint blueberries (see above)
Oven to 375.
For the crumb topping, combine the flour, bp and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix. Melt the butter in a small pan, then add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Remove from the heat, and add the butter/sugar mixture into the flour mixture. Keep stirring until flour is evenly moistened. It will look like this:
For the muffins, combine the flour, bp, salt and nutmeg in a mixing bowl and stir well.
Combine butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer, and cream the butter until well mixed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
Turn the mixture to low, and add half the flour mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the milk, beat until smooth. Scrape the bowl again.
Add the remaining flour mixture, mix until just combined.
Fold in the blueberries.
Divide your batter equally among the cavities in your muffin pan. This will make either 12 small muffins or six manly muffins.
Break the crumb topping into small crumbs and scatter over the top of each muffin.
Bake until muffins are well risen and topping is golden, about 30 minutes. Cool the muffins in the pan on a rack.
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