These are simultaneously easy and visually impressive in a way that shouldn’t go together. Nothing that emerges from a pan looking this beautiful (the buttery blueberries glisten like tiny polished jewels) should possibly take such a short period of time and require such a modest grocery list. But every so often, the cooking goddesses – this time in the form of the brilliant Bonnie Stern – bestow upon you a gift that inversely correlates time spent with aesthetic desirability.
A few notes about tweaking:
· Although this recipe can be used with either fresh or frozen blueberries, my preference tends to lean towards frozen, especially if you have access to frozen wild blueberries, as they tend to be smaller and many brands will freeze the berries in such a way that does not yield icy clumps of frozen berries. Really all you want to steer clear from is a bag of frozen berries that would require a sledge hammer to crack through. Smaller blueberries will also cluster more daintily along the cupcakes and quickly break down into a jammier, oozier topping.
· You can also substitute any other similar-sized berry in place of the bluebs (Saskatoons would be particularly amazing) and swap out the regular butter for brown butter. A bit of lemon zest stirred into the batter would also perk everything up. That makes it seem as though these are not already perfection (they are), but it’s really just another way of exalting the flexibility of this recipe.
Blueberry Upside-Down “Muffins”
Adapted from Bonnie Stern (Essentials of Home Cooking)
Makes 1 dozen “muffins” (and FYI it’s very easy to individually put away 3 or 4 of these in a single sitting)
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
2/3 cup brown sugar (don’t worry about packing it down)
2 cups frozen blueberries
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, measured correctly
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2/3 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup buttermilk
Plain yogurt, to serve (optional), also runnier yogurt (vs Greek) is better
Lemon zest, to garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt ¼ cup (4 tbsp) butter and divide evenly among a 12-cup muffin tin (~1 tsp/cup). Sprinkle the brown sugar into each cup (~1 tbsp/cup) and lightly pat down. Divide the blueberries among the muffin cups (~2 tbsp/cup). Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the remaining 1/2 cup butter with electric beaters or a mixer on medium. Beat in the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times while mixing; beat for ~3 minutes, until fluffy and smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla for ~30 seconds, then scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn the beaters to low speed. In alternating additions, beat in the flour and buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour (this should give you 3 additions of flour and 2 additions of buttermilk). Scrape down the bowl every so often, and try to mix only until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, smoothing it over the blueberries as best you can (an ice cream scoop would also work well). Bake until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the muffins comes out clean or with just a few crumbs clinging, ~17-24 minutes. (I know that’s a broad range! Just start testing at ~17 minutes and every 2 minutes or so after that, unless they’re absolutely gooey at the first testing, in which case give them at least 5 more minutes.) The muffins should spring back when lightly touched in the centre. Let cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack, then run a knife (or your deadened fingertips) along the edges lightly to release the muffin top. Invert the muffin tin onto the cooling rack and lightly tap the tin to help release the muffins. Hopefully you were successful in inverting; I’ve made these many many times and it’s never been an issue and my muffin tin is an abomination.
Serve the “muffins” warm or at room temperature, preferably with dollops of yogurt spooned over and a scattering of lemon zest. Whenever I make these I’m proud of them like my own children. And then I devour them.