I bought a lot of cookbooks during 2010 and the one I love the most is the one with no glossy papers and no pictures. The leather-bound The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser is ultimately my most favorite book as for today and many days to come. I could not imagine the work and effort she has put into the book to compile and personally tested all those recipes. I can totally relate to her work, as I myself am a recipe freak. I follow through recipes like I would have if I am a wizard trying to concoct potion (I was going to go with chemist, but I wasn’t exactly sure what chemist does). The recipes are very clearly worded and personal notes are a pleasure to read at the end of each recipe. Amanda Hesser has made truly American recipes, time-tested and proofed, available to the rest of the world and for foodie freaks like me, who hunt for old recipes that really worked, to find our cooking bible.
The first recipe that I tried, and subsequently repeated four times in the period of five days is Jordan Marsh’s Blueberry Muffins Recipe. Besides blueberry, I have substituted the filling with bananas, stewed apples, nuts, cinnamon, chocolate chip and chocolate chunks – but not necessarily in that order. I don’t think my family can handle another muffin for the rest of the year.
The blueberry muffin recipe is simple enough to whip up in less than an hour, including baking. With minimal effort, beautiful little cakes are ready. The muffins rise beautifully. The texture is as light as air, in contrast with other muffin recipes that come up with dense and heavy muffins. Those made me want to hold a big glass of water just by staring at them. Okay, I am biased. It is very hard not to be.
Combine butter and sugar in a bowl. Don’t do as I did. Do try to cut butter into smaller cubes. I spent good minutes cleaning up the kitchen counter from splattering sugar. If you use finer granulated sugar, you will spend less time creaming them.
Keep on beating on high speed and get those sugar bits merging well with the butter.
After 15 minutes and I gave up. The sugar bits were still showing. I can live with that.
Add one egg at a time and beating over medium speed, mixing well each time.
Fold shifted flour, salt and baking powder alternately with milk. Try not working on the batter too much or the gluten will form an alliance with each other and you will end up with tough muffins.
Mix in all the blueberries, smashed and whole.
Divide batter into heavily buttered muffin pans
Sprinkle some sugar on top for that crunchy bites.
Bake for 30 minutes or less, with preheated oven at 190 degree celsius.
The queen of all muffins!
Jordan Marsh's Blueberry Muffins
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)
Heat oven to 190 degree celsius. Grease muffin cups. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
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.
Crush 1/2 cup blueberries with a fork, and mix into the batter. Fold in the remaining whole berries
Fill the muffin cups with batter. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar over the tops of muffins. Bake 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.
I did adjust the amount of sugar called for, I used only 1 cup, instead of 1-1/4 cups listed in the recipe. The sweetness of the muffins is great for me that way with less sugar. When I used less than 2 cups of blueberries (or any chopped fruit), the muffins came up to be rather flat. The batter really needs good solid foundation for it to be able to rise above the cups. So, be generous and you will not regret it.
Food52 – Amanda Hesser’s Blog