Big, fluffy, moist, bursting with blueberry flavor, and topped with crumbly streusel, these homemade muffins are better than you could buy. I call them The Best Bakery-Style Blueberry Muffins, and they pull out all of the tricks for perfect muffins, from how to get a perfectly domed top to how to prevent the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the batter.
A few weeks ago, I was just about to make another batch of Blueberry Muffins Waffles with Cinnamon Streusel and Vanilla Glaze for friends who stayed the night, when I remembered that I broke my waffle maker (such a klutz) and never got a new one. “No worries,” I told myself, “I’ll just make regular blueberry muffins instead since I’ve got all of the ingredients.” And then I realized that, despite the fact that I could SWEAR that I’ve posted blueberry muffins on here before, I have never in my years and years of blogging written about ’em. You know what that means. Cue the obsession.
My approach with cooking dinners and such is a lot different than my approach with baking. With cooking, I like to get creative. Experiment with flavors. Simplify methods. Combine cuisines. But with baking? With baking I like to keep things (mostly) traditional, but find THE. MOST. AMAZING. way to do it. That means a whole lot of recipe testing, a whole lot of tasting, a whole lot of cookies or brownies, or in this case, muffins. I found that the best way, in the end, involved taking my favorite bits of all the best “best” muffin recipes out there and putting them together!
MAKING TRULY PERFECT MUFFINS
A GOOD BLUEBERRY MUFFIN CALLS FOR STREUSEL TOPPING
I’ve had many blueberry muffins that were smooth-topped, and some that were sprinkled with sparkling sugar. Those muffins are fine muffins, sure. Enjoyable muffins. But nothing compares to a blueberry muffin with streusel on top, where the sweet and crumbly texture elevates them to the next level.
Typically, streusel is made by cutting cold butter into a mixture of flour and sugar, but for this recipe I use melted butter, which will still create the pea-sized crumbles necessary to top the muffins, but has less of a sandy texture than traditional streusel topping. A little brown sugar deepens the flavor of the streusel and just a tiny, tiny hit of lemon zest adds brightness that amplifies the blueberry flavor. All-together, it’s a delicious topping that adds to the muffins without overwhelming them!
HOMEMADE BLUEBERRY SYRUP MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE
Because we want maximum blueberry flavor in our blueberry muffins (without simply throwing a thousand blueberries into the mix and hoping it all holds together), I incorporate the blueberries in three ways: whole throughout the base; boiled into a syrup for swirling on top; and then fresh berries pressed into the crumble after baking.
The syrup is a real game changer, and was inspired by America’s Test Kitchen’s version, which was the heaviest influence on this finished recipe.
All that you have to do to make the syrup is throw half of the blueberries into a saucepan with a tablespoon of sugar and heat until the blueberries burst and boil. Then mash them lightly and let the mixture cook until thickened. At that point, you can remove the mixture from heat, stir in a little lemon juice to once again boost that blueberry flavor (but don’t worry, these muffins aren’t lemony), and wait until the syrup has cooled.
I use a toothpick to swirl the blueberry syrup on the top of my muffins, which ensures that there’s plenty of blueberry flavor toward the top and helps to prevent the streusel from feeling overly dense. Plus, I love those little peeks of purple that come through at the top of the muffins!
HOW TO STOP THE BLUEBERRIES FROM SINKING
Anyone who has ever made fruit cakes or muffins before knows that the fruit often will sink and form a layer at the bottom of the bake, leaving no fruit pieces throughout the top. It’s just one of those things that happens– gravity does what it does. To prevent the fruit (in this case, blueberries) from sinking, many bakers will toss them with a little flour, which supposedly helps to suspend them in the batter.
It doesn’t really work like that.
The blueberries don’t magically float just because they’ve been tossed in flour. However, I have found that a quick toss in flour seems to make it less likely that the blueberry juices will leak and bleed to the very bottom of the batter, creating a dense layer of purple mush that simply won’t bake all the way through.
And to make sure there’s blueberry goodness on top, we’ve always got that blueberry syrup swirl!
HOW TO GET MUFFINS TO DOME
Recipes always tell you to fill muffin cups only 3/4 of the way to the top, but if you want a real big muffin with a nice dome on top, fill those suckers all the way up. Yes, they’ll spill over a bit and bake in a sort of mushroom-top-esque shape, but that’s the mark of a truly incredible, indulgent muffin, isn’t it?
Using a thick batter (spreadable and scoopable, NOT pourable) is also key. You need some density to get good lift at the top! Luckily, this recipe fits the bill.
And lastly, don’t listen to the recipes that insist that you should bake your muffins at 350 degrees. If you want a good dome on your muffins, you need to crank the heat up– at least to start! In order to get a good rise, a golden brown crust, and a moist muffin bake, I start my muffins at 425 and lower the temperature to 375 for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
WATCH THE VIDEO
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
For the topping:
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- Pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the muffins:
- 2 cups fresh blueberries, divided, plus more to top
- 1 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all purpose flour, divided
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- To start, make the streusel topping. Combine 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, 1/8 teaspoon lemon zest, and a pinch of salt. Whisk to combine. Pour in 4 tablespoons of melted butter. Mix until crumbs the size of peas are formed, then set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spray a muffin tin lightly with nonstick spray and line with muffin liners.
- In a saucepan, heat 1 cup of the blueberries and 1 tablespoon of sugar over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and break the blueberries apart with a fork or masher as they cook. Continue to cook until mixture is thickened and reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup sugar, the eggs, vegetable oil, melted butter, buttermilk, and vanilla extract until well-combined.
- Gently use a spatula to fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, being careful not to over-mix. It’s okay to have some small clumps of flour.
- In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour until lightly coated. Fold into the muffin batter. Use an ice cream scoop to evenly divide the batter between 12 muffin cups (the mixture should fill all the way to the tops). Spoon the blueberry syrup mixture on top of each mound of muffin batter, then use a toothpick to swirl into the batter.
- Top generously with the streusel mixture. You might have more than you need.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375°F (but don’t open the oven to check!) and continue to bake for 10 more minutes, or until golden. While the muffins are still warm, press additional blueberries onto the tops, if desired. Let cool in the muffin tin.