Start the day right: Blueberry muffins

Start the day right: Blueberry muffins

I’m stuck in a toxic relationship with my hairdresser. You know the episode of Caroline in the City (well, you probably don’t since I think I was one of only seven people who watched that short lived program) where she tells her stylist she’s moving to Norway so she can switch to another salon, only to run into him at an art show where she capitulates in guilt and lets him give her a quickie in the back room? It sums up the complexities of the hairdresser/client relationship.

My problem is that a) I really like my hairdresser and my salon and b) I’m an inherently lazy person who’s not good at instigating change. But my cuts are dreadful. My curly haired stylist just can’t cut curly hair – the shape only lasts for 6 weeks or so before I’ve got to go back for more. My curly haired sister ran from this place a whole year ago and she can’t believe I haven’t cut the cord yet.

What can I say, this is a pattern for me. In Canada I went to the sweetest girl whose haircuts became increasingly erratic but whose tales of her on-again off-again relationship were so much fun that I went to her for the gossip sessions alone. It was only a move to England that severed those ties.

Yesterday morning, knowing that I might be faced with a frightful mop top later on, I thought I’d at least start the day off right. Enter these delicious blueberry and buttermilk muffins, one of my favourite morning recipes. In my family we eat these on Christmas morning every year; while others handle the turkey, this breakfast is my main contribution to the festivities.

Blueberry muffins may not seem the most perfect fit for Christmas, but we make them with local wild blueberries which were picked in summer and frozen for use in muffins and pies year round. There are so many heavy flavours at Christmastime that the lightness of these is something of a relief.

I don’t have access to lovely wild blueberries in England in November, so here I substituted dried wild Maine blueberries from King Arthur Flour. It’s not quite the same, but in a pinch it’ll do. (I soaked the fruit in hot water first to plump them up nicely.)

As for my hair, I can’t tell how the land lies yet. She gave me a beautifully smooth blow dry for a change so the full horror of its curly state has yet to be revealed. After my first shower I suspect I may need another muffin to bring the smile back to my face.

Wild Blueberry Buttermilk Cinnamon Muffins
Adapted from In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley

Makes 12 regular sized or 6 jumbo sized muffins

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose (plain) flour
1/2 cup cake and pastry flour (or substitute all purpose)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh or frozen wild blueberries (or substitute dried)

Topping (optional):
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350F / 175C. Grease a muffin tin or fill the cups with paper liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Add the flour mixture to the batter in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk in two additions, and mixing everything together on low speed each time. Gently fold the blueberries into the batter.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake in the centre of oven for 15 to 20 minutes (25 to 30 minutes for jumbo muffins) until the tops are golden and spring back when touched. Cool the muffins slightly in the pan before turning out onto a cooling rack.

If using the topping, pour the butter into a small bowl and combine the sugar and cinnamon in another small bowl. Dip the crowns of the muffins into the butter then sprinkle generously with the sugar mixture before serving.