Jordan Marsh’s Blueberry Muffins

Each summer, the farmers  always are dependent on the weather for good crops. Our cold, wet rainy early summer which turned into a weeks-long heat wave gave us poor strawberries and late green beans. But one fruit, blueberries, seem to be thriving from the heat. I started seeing local ones in the middle of July, which I think is earlier than normal. And they are fabulous this year. So fabulous, that I was craving blueberry muffins one day.

I like blueberry muffins that are extra moist and filled with little bursts of fruit. One Friday morning on my way to work, I decided to treat myself for a work week well done and stopped by a high-end bakery with hopes they would have some muffins. They did, flavored with honeysuckle. And they were $3 each. Against my better judgment, I decided to splurge, but honestly, it was terrible; dry, hardly any berries, and the top was crumbly with no moistness whatsoever. I knew I could make better and less expensive muffins at home. So I went to my trusty copy of The Essential New York Times Cook Book and knew Amanda Hesser would have the answer.

Jordan Marsh was a famous department store in the Boston area until  it was taken over by Macy’s in the 1990s. I lived in Chelsea, Massachusetts, for a couple of summer months in the late 1980s, and on one of my rare afternoons off from work, I took the train into the city and just walked around the makeup counter of Jordan Marsh. We didn’t have department stores like that in Vermont, and I loved the bright lights and big city. It’s a wonderful memory. And this muffin recipe was exactly what I was looking for; an extra moist muffin bursting with fresh blueberries. Adding the crushed berries really ups the fruit flavor

Helpful Kitchen Hint: When I make muffins, I usually use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients. But because of creaming the butter and sugar, I pulled out my hand mixer. It made things go quickly!

With a cup of tea on a lazy Sunday morning, I couldn’t resist so I had one right out of the oven. With just one bite, my craving was gone and I was in heaven.

Yes, you are correct. One muffin is missing! I couldn't resist!

Yes, you are correct. One muffin is missing! I couldn’t resist!

Jordan Marsh’s Blueberry Muffins

From The Essential New York Times Cook Book, by Amanda Hesser

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 tablespoons (one stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup whole milk
2 cups blueberries, rinsed and picked over

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 large muffin cups. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

2. Cream the butter and 1 ¼ 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 alternating with the milk, beating just until smooth.

3. Crush ½ cup blueberries with a fork, and mix into the batter. Fold in the remaining whole berries.

4. Fill the muffin cups with batter. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar over the tops of the muffins. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan.

5. Store, uncovered, or the muffins will be too moist the second day—if they last that long.

Cook’s Notes:
I completely forgot about topping the muffins with the extra sugar, so if you forget, they are still delicious. And Hesser is right about being moist the next day; I layered them in a container and they were so moist they stuck to each other. But, of course, that didn’t matter, they were still delicious!  

Fresh Blueberry Coffee Cake

I’m not one for muffins or cakes in the morning (although I am a sucker for doughnuts on those rare occasions), but when the calendar turns to August, I really get a hankering for my Aunt Freda’s blueberry coffee cake made with fresh local berries. I’ll get up on a lazy Sunday morning, when the morning temperature is a little bit cooler than it’s been, and pull out this recipe to warm the kitchen. All told it takes about an hour, and who doesn’t have that on a Sunday morning?

I’ve made this with frozen berries in the winter, but it’s just not the same. I’ve included my “lighter” version for the topping, but who wants that? I’ll just take an extra long walk in the afternoon, but only after I’ve finished my cake and coffee.

Fresh Blueberry Coffee Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 3/4 cup flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 well-beaten egg
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup oil (canola or another light colored and flavored)
1 cup fresh blueberries,mixed with 1-2 TBS sugar (I only use two tablespoons if the berries are sour.)

Topping
4 TBS. butter (I use 3 TBS.)
1/2 cup flour (I use 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup sugar (I use 1/4 cup)

Sift dry ingredients into a deep, medium bowl and make a well in the center. Mix egg, milk, and oil together in separate bowl, and pour into well. Carefully stir in blueberries and sugar. Mix until combined. Add topping and pour into a 9” greased pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until done.

*Chris’s addition: When the cake is almost done, I put a tiny dash of cinnamon and nutmeg on top.