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Birthday Muffins August 3, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, random stuff, Work.
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I work in a small office.

I mean REALLY small.

PhotobucketThere’s me, and then there’s Mon Capitán, and there’s one other person, our secretary.

Small office.

So anyway, since Mon Capitán is the boss and all, he doesn’t really count as a co-worker, so that leaves just the two of us, me and our secretary.

Do you remember how, in grade school, whenever there was a birthday, the birthday girl (or boy) would bring a treat in for the entire class?  Usually it was something fun like cupcakes or Rice Krispie Treats, but sometimes, there’d be a slacker kind of mom who would send in something store-bought (gasp!).  Though, I’ll admit, back then, the kids all thought those were the “cool” moms. . . what we didn’t know back then, huh?!

So anyway, now that my kid is grown, I’m free to be the “cool mom” – only now, the coolness  factor is determined by the quality of the homemade treat!

So when you have someone in your office with a July birthday, what is the first office treat that comes to mind?

(Besides Krispy Kreme, which is excellent in any season.)

Yeah.  July = blueberry season.

And blueberries + birthday = blueberry muffins.

So I trotted out Cook’s Illustrated and made their delightful muffins.

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Yes, they’re a bit of a pain, but, in my opinion, well worth it, particularly for my co-worker’s birthday.

These are actually made in three parts – start out with the topping – it’s easy to set that aside.

It’s simply a matter of 1/3 cup of sugar and the grated zest of a single lemon.

Stir them together and then set it aside until you need it.

Next up is the muffin filling.

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Yes, filling.  While you’re preheating the oven (425°), take 1 cup of blueberries and 1 teaspoon of sugar, and mash them together in a saucepan.  Cook until the mixture is thickened (think blueberry jam) and reduced to 1/4 cup.  This’ll take maybe 5-10 minutes.  Then set that aside to cool.

From there, it’s pretty standard muffin-method:

Whisk together:

  • 2½ c. flour (unbleached)
  • 2½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. table salt

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And in a separate bowl, whisk together:

  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract

Fold the two together, along with an additional cup of blueberries.

I like to add the blueberries first, then the liquidy stuff.  My mother taught me to “always flour the berries, or they’ll sink.”  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but, hey, better safe than sorry, that’s what I always say!

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Now you know not to over-stir the muffin batter, right?  Terrible things happen – they get tough, or they get air pockets, or something.

Just stir until barely combined and lumpy – it’s OK, really.

Just don’t overmix.

Divide the batter among 12 standard-sized muffin tins.

It’ll come close to filling those tins – pay no attention to the “conventional wisdom” that says to only fill the muffin tins 2/3  of the way full.  These are going to be full.

Maybe even slightly over-full.

It gets better.  (Or worse, depending on your point of view.)

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Now we’re going to take the filling – remember that? –  and divide that among the muffins.  I used a rounded measuring teaspoon.  Remember, we reduced the filling to about 1/4 cup, and we’re dividing that among 12 muffins.  About a teaspoon per, give or take.

We do the math so you don’t have to.

Now, Cook’s Illustrated recommends (get this) taking a chopstick and swirling the filling INTO the batter.

I’m just going to say this – if you get the wrist action right, you can just give the measuring spoon a good flick, and you’ll dump the filling and kind of twist the spoon and bury the filling in the batter.

No need to swirl unless you’re really lame.

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And we’re almost done.  Sprinkle with the lemon-sugar topping (remember THAT?), then bake in your 425-degree oven (rotating once) until the muffins test done – the tops are golden and firm, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean – about 20 minutes, give or take a couple.

Cool the muffins in the tin for 5 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

These may very well be the best muffins you’ve ever had – make sure to stash a couple in the freezer for later for yourself before you turn them over to the birthday girl and the rest of the office – like I did!

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Comments

1. judy - August 3, 2010

Do you need my address so I can receive mine by mail?

Yummy~

Now, Jude, you know they’re LONG GONE by now! 😆

2. Joanna - August 3, 2010

Holy delicious! I’ve made blueberry muffins at least 3 times already this summer, but these look incredible. Looks like I need to go buy more blueberries!

There’s a reason Cook’s Illustrated calls them “Best Blueberry Muffins” – believe it! 😀

3. sjbraun - August 5, 2010

Wow – you’ve got quite a lucky co-worker there! I’ve paged through Cook’s, and it’s just too much work for me 🙂 But it’s got your name all over it – yum, yum!!

I will admit – some of their recipes can be a bit of a pain. But in almost every instance, it’s worth the extra trouble. Mostly.

Though I’m not so sure that’s a good thing when it comes to muffins, you know? 😕


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