recipe showdown: blueberry muffins

It’s been way too long since I’ve done a Recipe Showdown.  My last showdown was “Sweet Potato Casserole.”  That was before Thanksgiving.  Santa has come, we have rung in the new year, I’ve finished exams… heck, it’s almost Valentine’s day.  
 
For the past four months, the most prominent thing on my blogging to-do list has been “DO A RECIPE SHOWDOWN” (the second most prominent thing is my attempt at drawing a croquembouche… but that’s beside the point).  
What’s been getting in the way?

To tell you the truth, Recipe Showdowns are hard. 

First, I have to scour the Internet for the best recipes out there, making sure they’re each a bit different to make the tests interesting.  
Second, I have to halve each recipe so I don’t end up with 10,000 muffins in my house (being the OCD little math geek that I am, this takes a while…)
Third, I have to buy all the ingredients, battling my way through the supermarket in search of “Cream of Tartar,” and other funky ingredients.
Fourth, I have to bake them all. (coordinating oven times, oven temps, my stand mixer, and my sanity is quite an ordeal). 
By this time all I want to do is drown my sorrows for a few hours on Pinterest.  But the Showdown is not even halfway done.
I still have to conduct tests.
Do I seriously want to conduct tests?  Ain’t nobody got time for that! By this time, I JUST WANT A DAMN MUFFIN. 
But alas, I conducted tests. On my parents, on my friends, even on a few random freshman… and I found the supreme blueberry muffin recipe. Oh, the sacrifices I make for you guys.
Once I sunk my teeth into the soft, pillowy, sugar-crusted, blueberry-studded muffin of my dreams, I  realized why the painstaking process that is Recipe Showdown is so worth it.  I also realized that the big, blueberry juice stain on my Lululemon yoga pants was so worth it.  It’s like a battle scar. A mark of honor. 
Lastly, I realized I should really drag my butt off Pinterest more often and do more Recipe Showdowns. 
With love, 
Erica


The Facts:
Almost biscuit-like,  these muffins have a super thick, almost cookie dough-like batter, which keeps the blueberries afloat and evenly distributed. 
These are light and fluffy, moistened with vegetable oil and a touch of sour cream.  They are topped off with a light crumb topping and a sprinkling of sparkly raw sugar.
These have the magical addition of brown butter in them (you all know how much I love brown butter!).  There is no sour cream in the batter. These muffins are topped off with a chunky streusel.
Tasters’ notes:
A bit dry and biscuit like...
Very crumbly
For all of the butter and sour cream, you would think that these would be lighter and less dense.
LOVE the raw sugar crust
Light and fluffy
Pretty
Very moist
Don't miss the butter at all!
Sweet
Love the brown butter taste!
A bit cake-like
Dense
Crumbly
Verdict:
My dad liked these the best (he said the others were too sweet, and he loves biscuits).  However, this was definitely not the conventional favorite.
THE SUPREME BLUEBERRY MUFFIN!
Brown butter is delicious, and it is definitely a close second, but the dense, crumbly consistency wasn't up to par with Cooking Classy.

The Supreme Blueberry Muffin
From Cooking Classy
Yield: 14 muffins
Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
7 Tbsp vegetable oil* (the easiest way to measure: measure 1/2 cup remove 1 Tbsp)
1 large egg
2 Tbsp sour cream
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp chilled butter, diced
1 1/2 Tbsp Raw Sugar
Prepare crumb topping by combining 1/3 cup flour, 1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar and 2 1/2 Tbsp butter in a food processor. Pulse just a few seconds until combine, it should be very fluffy (if you pulse it too much it will become dense). Pour crumb mixture into a small bowl and whisk in 1 1/2 Tbsp raw sugar (please do not leave this ingredient out, it's the crowning jewel of these muffins, it's a MUST), set aside.
In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside. In a seperate mixing bowl, using a wire hand whisk (no electric mixer allowed here =), mix together 1 cup granulated sugar, buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg and sour cream for 1 minute. Gently whisk in dry mixture just until combine, batter should be slightly lumpy (do not over-mix, key to fluffy muffins). Fold in blueberries with a spatula. Divide mixture evenly among 12 - 14 paper lined muffin tins. Allow muffins to rest at room temperature 10 minutes, meanwhile preheat oven to 400 degrees.
After muffins have rested, fluff crumb topping with a fork and sprinkle each muffin evenly with 1 Tbsp crumb topping mixture (if doing 14 muffins you will want to do a scant tbsp). Bake muffins 19 - 23 minutes until lightly golden and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool several minutes in muffin pan before removing to wire rack to cool. © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

little bites copycat blueberry muffins

I read Mindy Kaling’s book over the summer, and I literally laughed out loud through the entire book. One of my favorite quotes was:

“One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than three with whom you struggle to find things to talk about.”  

Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

While reading this, I immediately thought of my friend Emilia. She shares my love of running, baking, and meticulous gift wrapping (her tape and paper collection is bigger than mine — which is slightly scary …in an awesome way).  Oh, and just like me, she prefers fresh, zesty lemon to deep, rich chocolate.  She was the inspiration behind these lemon crinkle cookies.

Emilia and I take the subway home together every day from track practice, and we always whip out our phones and compare recipes on Pinterest (we also share a bit of an addiction to Pinterest…).  I often bake little treats to eat in the locker room after track (after 10 x 100 m dashes, we can all use some butter and sugar!).  The other day, we were discussing what I should bake for practice that afternoon, and eventually settled on these teeny-tiny blueberry muffins.

I whipped these up when I got home, and I was amazed when I took my first bite — they tasted exactly like Etenmann’s Little Bites!!! In lower school, my dad used to pack my lunch for me every day in a Hello Kitty lunchbox.  He would always pack a sandwich (either salami or jelly-cream cheese) and a little bag of blueberry Little Bites mini muffins.  The taste of blueberry Little Bites brought me back to the days of nap-time and Legos.  These tiny muffins whip up in matter of minutes, and are the perfect thing to sneak in your purse or backpack when you need a “little bite” of something delicious. 😉

What did you eat for lunch in elementary school?

With love,
Erica

Ingredients 
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

glaze:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter; melted
1 cup confectioners’ sugar; sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon warm water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars until smooth. Add the eggs, lemon extract and vanilla, beating to combine. 
 
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. Fold in the blueberries. 
 
Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full. 
 
Bake the muffins for 5-8 minutes, or until they’re a pale golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean. 
 
In a medium bowl, prepare the glaze by mixing together the melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, lemon extract and water. Whisk until smooth.
 
When muffins have cooled slightly, dip the muffin crown into the glaze and allow the glaze to harden. At this point, you can leave them as is or go for the double dip. I glazed my muffins twice.
 
Serve warm, or cool on a rack and wrap airtight. Muffins will keep at room temperature for about a day.
Adapted from My Baking Addiction

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

peach ginger muffins

If you look carefully, you can see peaches rolling around in the back of most of my recent photos. These peaches led to this, this, this, and two peachy banana breads. These peaches also led to these cute little peach ginger muffins… and we still have a bunch rolling around on the counter.

These soft, fragrant muffins have the most amazing ginger streusel that packs a delicious crunch into every bite. The sharp, spicy ginger contrasts so nicely against the sweet, plump peach chunks. What makes these muffins even more delectable is the addition of brown butter. Just like in my peach shortbread bars, I browned the butter before adding it to the batter — giving the muffins a rich, dark, nutty flavor.

These are perfect for breakfasts, snacks, and (my favorite) eating standing up over the oven. These peaches are ripening by the second — if any of you have any other peachy recipe ideas, shoot them my way!

With love,
Erica

Ingredients

  • 6T unsalted butter
  • 1/3c milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2c  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2c sugar
  • 1 1/2t baking powder
  • 3/4t salt
  • 2 cups diced peaches (about 2 peaches)
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, diced
  • 1t ground ginger
  • dash of cinnamon

Crumb topping:

  • 3T cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2c all purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 Tbs sugar
  • 1t ground ginger
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line or butter 12 muffin tins.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium
    heat. Once the butter melts, let it continue to cook, watching carefully
    all the while. It will start to slowly (then very quickly!) brown. When
    you see dark solids starting to fall to the bottom of the pan and
    notice a rich, almost caramel-like aroma rising from the butter, remove
    it from the heat. (You may need to transfer it to a new container to
    cool so that it does not continue to cook in the residual heat of the
    pan. Be careful as once it’s properly browned it can burn very quickly).
    Don’t worry about the darker brown grains at the bottom; they are part
    of what gives the butter the distinctive flavor. Allow the browned
    butter to cool somewhat. (It does not need to completely cool, but
    should be cool enough that it does not cook the eggs when you mix the
    wet ingredients together).
  3. Stir the dry ingredients together (except for
    the peaches and ground ginger). Stir the wet ingredients together, and
    add to the dry. When mixed, gently fold in the peaches and chopped
    candied ginger. Fill 12 muffin tins.
  4. Make the crumb topping: Mix the flour, sugar,
    and ginger together and then rub the butter pieces into this mixture
    with your fingers. Sprinkle evenly on top of the filled muffin tins.
  5. Bake 25 minutes if using fresh peaches. Remove from oven, and cool slightly
    before removing from muffin tin. Enjoy!

From Honest Cooking

raisin bran muffins

I am a bit obsessed with breakfast — and you guys are used to me whipping up dishes like cinnamon cloudcakes swimming in pools of melted butter, and french toast casserole oozing with blueberry syrup.

But let’s talk muffins. I pinned this recipe a few months ago, and it got overlooked in lieu of more exciting dishe such as nutella swirl cookies filled with coconut mascarpone. However, I was getting tired with my daily bowl of Quaker Oats, and this was just the thing. 

aren’t these muffin cups cute?

 These aren’t your streusel-topped, butter-laden, monster muffins (a.k.a breakfast cupcakes). These are just simple, wholesome, and delicious muffins. They allow me to start my day on a good, energized note.  

so yummy warm — with a big smear of cream cheese

I love to eat one of these on a weekday morning alongside a big cup of milky coffee, or with a little pot of strawberry yogurt. Another way I love to enjoy these is crumbled on top of one of my “smoothie bowls” instead of granola.

What is your favorite make-ahead weekday breakfast?

With love,
Erica

Adapted from Pastries from La Brea Bakery by Nancy Silverton

2 cup (125g) wheat bran
1 cup, plus 1/2 cup (190g total) dark raisins
1 cup, plus 1/2 (370ml total) cup water
1/2 cup (120g) buttermilk or plain low- or non-fat yogurt
a few swipes of fresh orange zest (unsprayed)
1/2 cup (105g) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 cup (65g) flour
1/4 cup (35g) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Line a 12-cup muffin tin (with 1/2-cup indentations) with paper liners.
2. Spread the wheat bran on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for
six to eight minutes, stirring a few times so it cooks evenly. Let cool.
3. While the bran is toasting, heat 1 cup (135g) of the raisins with
1/2 cup (120ml) of the water. Simmer for ten minutes, or until the water
is all absorbed. Puree the raisins in a food processor or blender until
smooth.
4. In a large bowl, mix together the toasted bran, buttermilk or
yogurt, 1 cup (250ml) water, then mix in the raisin puree, orange zest,
and brown sugar.
5. Stir in the oil, egg and egg white.
6. Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and
sift directly into the wet ingredients. Stir until the ingredients are
just combined, then mix in the remaining 1/2 cup (55g) raisins.
7. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, making sure the batter is
mounded slightly in each one. Because muffin tins can very in size, if
your tins are larger, make fewer muffins.
8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins feel set in the center.

carrot muffins

My Dad bought a 5 pound bag of baby carrots that was about to go bad, so I had a lot of fun experimenting with various carrot recipes — carrot cake Lara bars, carrot cake granola, carrot pancakes… but my carrot-fest would definitely not be complete without a real carrot cake! 

This is the famous, perfected recipe by Grandpa Sam, which has been tested and loved by many
I altered the perfect recipe ever so slightly, adding some cloves, allspice and a bit of freshly ground ginger root.

These are extremely moist, tender and sweet, with a rich, warm, spicy aroma. Simply put, the best carrot muffins I have ever had. Delicious with a big shmear of cream cheese. Oh, and these get even better with age, so pop them in the fridge for a while for an even better treat (if you can wait that long!).
What’s the best muffin you’ve ever eaten?
With love,
Erica

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp fresh ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
  • 1 cup raisins

Directions


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 2 muffin tins with a paper liners.

  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, allspice and cinnamon. Set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, oil, sugar, ginger and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour mixture and mix well.

  4. In a medium bowl, combine shredded carrots, coconut, walnuts, pineapple and raisins.

  5. Using a large wooden spoon or a very heavy whisk, add carrot mixture to batter and fold in well.

  6. Pour into muffin tins, and bake at 350
    degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20-25 minutes. Check with toothpick.

  7. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. 

Adapted from Sam’s Famous Carrot Cake

cinnamon bun muffins (in half an hour!)

You all know about my slightly insane love for cinnamon. Nothing beats a warm, buttery cinnamon bun for breakfast — but since the recipe usually calls for a yeasted dough, they take overnight planning to make, which a little too much hassle for all of us busy people with a weekday cinnamon craving! These muffins are big, buttery, and full of fragrant, ground cinnamon, the perfect substitute for traditional yeasted buns. When they take only a half an hour from start to finish, why not treat your family to a cinnamon-filled weekday breakfast sometimes? Oh, and nothing beats how delicious your kitchen will smell with these heavenly muffins baking in the oven.
With love,
Erica

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

Makes 12
Ingredients

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3 cups flour

Filling:
5 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar, baking soda, salt, vanilla and egg. Add the buttermilk, then the flour. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for two minutes. Roll the dough into a 12-inch by 24-inch rectangle. 
  4. Spread with butter, then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  5. Roll the dough into a log beginning with the wide side. Stretch the log slightly as you roll to keep it tightly rolled. 
  6. Cut the log into 12 even pieces
  7. Place the rolls swirly side up in a greased muffin pan
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the muffins to cool for about 5 minutes, then remove them from pans to a cooling rack. Combine ingredients for glaze and drizzle over the top