Friday, March 12, 2010

Joyously Jumbo Blueberry Muffins!

There's something unusually fun about making enormous muffins. I don't know what it is, exactly, but the very lack of delicacy is curiously liberating. They're a hoot to prepare, and a real hoot to serve.

The day I made these, I had to pick up my older son from school to take him to a doctor's appointment, and I waited in the parking lot for him to emerge. The sun was shining that afternoon, and a beam of warm light was pouring directly into the car window on the passenger side, right onto the seat he would soon occupy. Since I'd brought one of the surprisingly endowed muffins for him to munch en route to the appointment, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to set that hefty creation right in the beam of sunlight.

So, there it sat--a majestic specimen, sugar crystals twinkling up at him the moment he opened the door. His reaction was perfect. You'd have thought the Hope diamond was ensconced on that white paper napkin instead of a simple baked good. His expression was one of complete astonishment not only at the yumminess before him, but amazement at the muffin's girth. His eyes opened wide in disbelief. Pretty funny. No one can appreciate a gigantic blueberry muffin, at the end of a long school day, like a hungry teenage boy. Bless his heart.

Okay, so they're big.

Anyway, I know they're huge. I don't want you to think I'm advocating that anyone wolf down a whole one of these babies as if it were a normal-sized serving. It's really the equivalent of two muffins in one--let's be clear about that. I don't want anyone getting a belly-ache because they didn't know when to say when. Can't have that on my conscience. We're each responsible for our own consumption, okay? (Say it with me. "We're each responsible for our own consumption." Very good.)

About the recipe . . .

This recipe is one I adapted from Marcy Goldman's book, A Passion for Baking. I changed the recipe by omitting the lemon and orange extracts, increasing the salt slightly, increasing the total amount of blueberries, and modifying the method for panning up the muffins. I also rewrote the instructions somewhat.

My family loved these nice moist muffins in every respect--LOVED them! I'd be willing to bet that yours will too.

Joyously Jumbo Blueberry Muffins

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Set rack in middle of oven.

This recipe will make 12 jumbo-size muffins (2 pans of 6 each), or 24 regular size muffins (2 pans of 12 each).

Line muffin pans with XL paper liners and coat the top of the pans, between the cups, liberally with baking spray. Place the pans on parchment-lined cookie sheets (though it may seem like overkill, doing this greatly reduces the chances of the muffin bottoms over-browning, a danger with jumbo muffins since they need to bake substantially longer than smaller muffins).

2 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 eggs, large
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
5 cups All-Purpose flour (I used unbleached)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 and 1/4 cups, up to 3 cups. of semi-frozen blueberries (If you like your muffins to be loaded with fruit, use 3 cups or a little more if you dare!)
1/4 to 1/2 cup of coarse sugar for dusting the tops

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your mixer, using the paddle attachment, blend the oil, melted butter, and sugar together.

Quickly add in the eggs and vanilla extract and blend well.

Remove your bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture. Or, if your mixer has a slow "stir" speed, use that.

On low speed, blend in the buttermilk and sour cream.

The batter should be kind of thick.

If you prefer, you may stir the berries into the batter at this point, but doing so may turn the batter blue here and there, which is fine if you don't mind. (I, however, do mind! ) Another option is to fill the muffin cups about one third of the way full with batter, then scatter some berries into each cup. Then, cover those berries in each cup with another spoonful of batter, and then add another bunch of berries on top of that. Finally, top all of that off with a last little dab of batter. Sprinkle coarse sugar generously over the top of each muffin.

Bake the muffins, if jumbo sized, for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then turn the temperature down to 350 degrees and continue baking 12 to 16 more minutes. The muffin tops should be lightly golden, and a toothpick inserted deeply into the center of one of the middle muffins should come out mostly clean. The muffins should also spring back when lightly pressed with your finger. (They'll bake in half the time, if they're not jumbos.)

Let them cool in their pans for about 5 minutes before you attempt to remove them. If the large muffin tops are a little stuck to the top of the pan, slide a knife blade gently underneath to loosen them first. Let them cool further on a rack. Delicious served warm or cold!

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