Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Muffins

I just returned from a wonderful week at a beach in North Carolina—beautiful weather, warm water, soft sand and a chance to forget about just about everything for a while. That’s my kind of vacation, and I loved every second of it. My husband and I rented a house on 

the beach, and I mostly cooked at home, buying really fresh shrimp and seafood, along with produce from the local farmers’ market. We ate out occasionally, though, and I marveled at how fatty the food is down South—pork, in all its glorious forms, reigns supreme (boy, is 

their sausage good!), as do biscuits and fried chicken with gravy and heavily buttered potatoes. How on earth do people make a steady diet of this food and live to talk about it? I must admit, it can be quite delicious, but I feel like I’ve gained five pounds in just a week. 

Anyhow, now I’m back up North, and ready to get back to work and do some baking. This morning I decided to make something simple and delicious: crumble-topped blueberry muffins, with a just hint of lemon. They are tender and full of juicy blueberries, with a buttery 

crumble topping. I love them because they are so easy to make, which is important if you’re making them early in the morning when the brain is not functioning at its highest level, as mine isn’t. Serve them with soft, salted butter, and maybe even some herby Southern sausage. A little fat is good for the morale. 
Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup (60 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (108 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons (57 g) unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Blueberry Muffins:
2 cups (238 g) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (132 g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups (50 g) fresh blueberries

Make the topping:
1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon and brown sugar. Add the butter pieces and, stir and mash the mixture with a fork until the topping is crumbly. Set aside.

Make the muffins:
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter twelve muffins cups.
3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in the center.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk until combined. Whisk in the lemon zest, vanilla and melted butter. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the well. Begin stirring the liquids, gradually drawing the dry ingredients into the well until they are almost, but not quite, combined. Add the blueberries and fold in just to distribute evenly. Do not overmix. Evenly divide the batter among the prepared muffins cups. Evenly divide the crumble topping among the muffins, sprinkling it on top.
5. Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool in the pan set on a wire rack for 10 minutes then carefully turn out onto the rack. Serve warm, or let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.