Blueberry Muffins with Lemon/Sugar Topping and My Best Little Cooking Helpers

My daughter and her three sweet girls – Annie, Ellie and Lilly arrived from their home in London on Tuesday. We could hardly wait till they got here and are LOVING having them with us. The two older girls always want to help Grammy (me) in the kitchen and we’ve been whipping up all kinds of special treats during this visit.

…………..they take their jobs quite seriously…………….

mmm…but then again, do you think perhaps there are a few shenanigans up their sleeves??? 🙂

# 3……………. well, she just keeps us entertained while we cook!
I had some beautiful fresh blueberries in the fridge so we decided to make Blueberry Muffins with Lemon/Sugar Topping this morning. I had been wanting to try this delicious sounding recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for some time now. This recipe intrigued me because unlike most blueberry muffin recipes it calls for making a simple blueberry puree by simmering a cup of the berries with a bit of sugar. The rest of the berries are added to the batter and the puree is swirled over the top of the muffins just before baking. A shower of lemon zest and sugar tops them off and into the oven they go!


I want to share one of my favorite baking secrets today; how to have lovely looking muffins even when the tops spill over the edges of the muffin cups making them look like a pitiful mess! Some muffins come out of the oven with rounded perfect tops but then there are those who go into overtime and not only rise up but also out ending up looking like mushrooms! I call this overzealousness on the part of the muffins “getting too big for their britches” – and I know how to put them right back in their place!
This is how the little trick works – the minute the muffins emerge from the oven, take a table knife or a small plastic scraping tool (see picture below) and, going around the edges, push the unruly tops gently back into the muffin cups. This has to be done while the muffins are hot out of the oven (once they start to cool they will become quite set in their ways and won’t budge when you try to coerce them into submission). If you work quickly while they are hot – the result will be perfectly rounded top muffins that look like they came from a bakery shop!

………………muffins grown right out of their britches………….

…….making them tow the line!!

…….gently coercing them into submission…..

…..almost done!!
Give these fabulous muffins a try! If you have some fun “little kitchen helpers” like I do, they will love assisting you in stirring these up. Your house will smell amazing as they bake and don’t forget about puting them back in their britches if they misbehave!!

Blueberry Muffins with Lemon/Sugar Topping


⅓ cup sugar
lemon zest , from l lemon


2 ½ cups blueberries
1 ¼ cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for puree
2 cups all purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly (1/2 stick)
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk (see note)
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. FOR THE TOPPING: Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.

2. FOR THE MUFFINS: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 2 tablespoons sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to a ¼ cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Rinse remaining cup berries under cold water and dry well. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Toss dried blueberries in flour mixture. Then, using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture into blueberries and flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)

4.  Use ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.

5. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

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