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A Dream Come True

For many, many years, I have had a dream. I dream about getting up early in the morning after a refreshing night’s sleep and puttering around the kitchen while everyone is still sleeping. I dream that I will take out flour and sugar and other ingredients and mix together some really nice freshly, baked goodie for breakfast. Sometimes, I dream that I make pancakes or waffles, but mostly, I dream about making muffins. Blueberry ones, to be exact.

The reality is this: My kids wake up earlier than I do and I am a terrible sleeper and often grumpy in the mornings. Even before I had kids, I don’t think I had the gumption to get up in the morning and do more than make a cup of tea and pour a bowl of cereal. Yet, for some reason, I hold onto this dream, which is why I was excited to try the recipe for blueberry muffins from Bouchon Bakery.

Every book on baking has some kind of berry muffin recipe. This one did not seem to stand out to me especially until I got to the part where the author tells you to refrigerate the batter until the next morning. Really? This means that I could do all the messy work the night before and then just have to bake them in the morning? This looked like a recipe I needed to try.

So I did.

And it worked, sort of.

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Like all Keller’s recipes, there’s a lot of precise measuring, one or two unexpected ingredients (blackstrap molasses, anyone?), and a big mess in the kitchen. Of course, the mess is mostly my fault for deciding that I needed to triple the recipe. Why do I do these things to myself?

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Anyway, I got the batter made and sent it off to rest in the fridge while I slept and dreamt about warm muffins for breakfast. Except there was a teeny problem when I got up to finish off the muffins the next day.

The batter was cold and hard.

The last instruction before baking the muffins was to stir in the frozen blueberries. However, the batter was quite stiff and I found it almost impossible to stir it at all. After a couple of arm wrenching minutes, I gave up. That’s just not the kind of thing I do first thing in the morning. I left the batter on the counter, disgusted, and poured cereal for everyone. Sigh.

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A couple of hours later, I came back to the batter. It was quite soft now and stirring the blueberries in was no big chore. I baked a pan right away as a mid-morning snack, but there was quite a significant chunk of batter left in the bowl. This will be because, if you remember from earlier, I tripled the recipe. Clearly, I had not really thought about the implications of that act. What would we do with three dozen muffins? All my original energy and motivation for this project was just about gone.

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So, I decided not to bake the rest of the muffins. I froze them instead. Yes, I scooped out all the batter into oil-sprayed paper cups, sprinkled on the almond crumb topping, and stuck them in the freezer, unbaked.

The next day, I took them out of the pans and threw them into a plastic bag to store in the freezer, except for two. Those I stuck into ramekins and baked them in my little countertop oven.

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They took a little longer to bake, but they baked up just fine. Just as good as any other muffin I have ever baked. Finally! Success! Next time, I will skip the refrigerating step and just go ahead and stir in the berries. Then, scoop out all the batter and freeze. The brilliance in this method, in case you have missed it, is that you can have freshly baked muffins any time and you can bake one or two or ten, depending on what you need. It makes me wonder if this will work with any muffin recipe? I’ll have to get back to you on that one, or if you are willing to try it, you can let me know.

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Now, these are good muffins. Perhaps not your traditional blueberry muffin, though. The blackstrap molasses really gives it a unique flavor that brings the muffin very close to gingerbread, only with blueberries and no ginger. It’s a nice change from overly sweet muffin recipes and I liked the almond crumb topping that used almond meal instead of big chunks of almonds. Plus, the contrast in color with the muffin was nice. However, the best thing is that I still have over a dozen little muffin balls waiting for me in the freezer whenever I feel like a freshly baked muffin. And all the work has already been done. It’s a dream come true!

Pretty Crumby Muffins

Buttermilk Crumb Muffins. They sound good, don’t they? But, there are two reasons why I have always passed this recipe by when I saw it in Baking with Julia.

One, the recipe uses shortening. Seriously, in a muffin? Aside from being just plain bad for you, I always associate shortening with greasy blandness. I only have it in the house because a little does help sometimes in pie crust, and it also lends a unique texture to snickerdoodles. Other than that, I try to avoid it.

Secondly, the recipe uses two cups of sugar for 14 muffins. That’s just crazy, too. I like sugar and all, but it just seems like overkill to use that much sugar in a muffin.

Well, I am committed to making all the recipes in this book, so I did make it. I decided that I could live with the sugar, but I could not deal with the shortening. I substituted butter for that.

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They came together very easily; just stir everything together basically.

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I may have overfilled my muffin tins a bit and I think it may have helped if I had let the batter sit for a few minutes before baking. The tops were really flat and not all that attractive, which is why I am showing you so many pictures of them upside down.

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Plus, I sorta liked the way they looked when I turned them out of the pan. They were nice and golden and had a great fluffy texture.

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The boys loved them. The husband and I thought they were too sweet. Additionally, I thought they were kind of boring. Now, 17 years ago, as a newleywed, I would have been thrilled with these muffins, as I was with everything I made out of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, but now, I guess my tastes have changed. I wished for some blueberries or citrus, something that would make this muffin more than just sugar and fluff. The husband suggested that some bran would be good. I don’t know if I would like that, but at least it would be different.

In any case, and I think this is the first time I have said this about any recipe I have made from Baking with Julia, I will not be making this again. I just think there are better muffin recipes out there.

If you want to try them, you can find the recipe here.