Baking: Blueberry muffins for the perfect weekend treat

Vanessa Greenwood: This 45-minute recipe produces a deliciously light texture

Blueberry muffins: delicious and easy to make. Photograph: Harry Weir

Blueberry muffins: delicious and easy to make. Photograph: Harry Weir

 

A blueberry muffin is a simple pleasure. They are hugely popular in western cafes and breakfast bars across the globe. Making blueberry muffins at home is easy, as punnets of fresh blueberries are readily available in shops.

As the supermarket titans continue to entice us, it is not uncommon to see blueberries included in super-saver deals. Because blueberries freeze so well, it’s worth stocking up when you come across these deals. I often pop them into pancakes, desserts, granola and smoothies.

I bring muffins along for a mid-morning snack, on a hike or just to have on the go over the weekend. With a foolproof rise and a deliciously light texture, this recipe takes only 45 minutes to make.

Little secret

A good muffin should rise proud of its case and let me share my little secret. A friend once gave me a reliable muffin recipe used by ski chalet cooks. Altitude plays havoc with traditional baking recipes and is a well-known contributor to sunken cakes. The weapon of choice against the thin atmosphere is yoghurt. Its acidity reacts with the baking powder to give a victorious rise especially so at sea level. When we developed these muffins in the cookery school test kitchen we always included the extra step of whisking the egg whites before folding them through the batter. This technique creates the lightest muffins possible.

The good news is that if you don’t have an electric whisk to whisk the egg whites separately, you can simply add the entire egg in one go – it will still give a decent muffin. A bit of kitchen paraphernalia that I will gladly troop around shops in search of are the same tulip style muffin wraps that you see in this picture.

Ten years ago they would have been impossible to buy, even in good kitchenware shops, but now you’ll find them online and good kitchen shops (I buy mine in The Kitchen Whisk and Stock Design, Dublin 2). Not only do they give a professional look, their conical shape also helps them to rise uniformly. Once made, you can leave the batter to sit for up to 2 days before baking. Freshly brewed coffee served with muffins straight from the oven make the perfect weekend treat.

Lightest blueberry muffins

Makes six

Ingredients
150g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
75g caster sugar
50g butter melted
2 eggs (separated into yolks and whites)
75ml natural yogurt
½tsp vanilla essence
125g punnet blueberries

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan. Fill a muffin tray with muffin cases (or tulip muffin wraps).

Into a wide bowl sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add in the sugar and mix in.

Melt the butter and set aside to cool for five minutes.

In a separate bowl or jug, combine the egg yolks, yoghurt, vanilla essence and melted butter.

Make a hollow in the centre of the dry ingredients and gradually pour in the liquid mixture, stirring until just combined (do not over mix the batter or it will make the muffins tough). 

In a spotlessly clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and gently fold them and most of the blueberries into the batter (reserve six-12 blueberries).

Spoon the batter into six muffin cases, then press the remaining blueberries into the top of each filled muffin.

Bake in a preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes until risen, firm to the touch and light golden brown on top. Leave the muffins in the tin to cool for 10 mins before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Variation
Using the basic recipe and adding other simple fillings such as banana, peach or lemon zest you can create all kinds of variations. Substitute cocoa powder for a quarter of the flour and add in chocolate chips for chocolate muffins.

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