Everyone has a favorite blueberry muffin recipe. This is mine. It's funny. As a fan of sturdy breakfast foods, I'm usually partial to bigger, denser muffins that are more reminiscent of scones. But for blueberry muffins I always come back to this one. Soft and pillowy, it's almost cupcake-like, the opposite of what I usually look for in a muffins. But I guess I'm just partial to the nostalgia behind them.
For those of you not from the Boston area, Jordan Marsh was a department store that sat right smack in the middle of the city's downtown from just after WWII to the 1990s. On ordinary weekends, it was filled with city and suburban moms dragging their kids (including yours truly) through the sale racks. I don't think there was a single weekend when I wasn't there with my mom or aunt, browsing through a maze of women's sweaters and blouses and scarves.
But even then there was something refined about it. Jordan Marsh was from the era of older department stores, when they still wrapped your purchases in pretty white boxes emblazoned with the store's name in a thin elegant font. Yeah, I played with those boxes at home, little 6-year-old me pretending I was a refined lady out on the town shopping for refined things. And later used them to store my Barbie clothes.
And then there were the holidays. Every year, Jordan Marsh put on this huge spectacle called the Enchanted Village, an indoor winter wonderland that took up a whole floor of the department store. It was a huge thing for anyone with kids in Boston and the surrounding suburbs to make the annual pilgrimage to see the Enchanted Village. There were lavish window displays, mechanical teddy bears in Santa hats waving at you, and toy trains chugging around snow-capped plastic mountains. The same five holiday songs played on constant loop. People with strollers came at you from all directions. It was, if you were very young and very high on Christmas, pure magic.
So that is how I got hooked on these blueberry muffins. They were a Jordan Marsh standard, sold at their in-store bakery at the Boston branch and other branches around the 'burbs. During the Enchanted Village and on every weekend, you'd see families take home huge boxes of these muffins along with their 30% off clothing purchases. To anyone who grew up with these muffins, they were pretty much synonymous with being off from school, which makes any food taste even better.
Sadly, Jordan Marsh went out of business in the mid-1990s and was replaced by Macy's. And out went the muffins too. But thanks to the interwebs and books like The Essential New York Times Cookbook, the recipe for the muffins survived. Even if you're not from the Boston area, you'll probably still enjoy these muffins, which are light and chock full of blueberries. And as with all muffins, the best part is the lightly crunchy top, made by sprinkling over with a good amount of sugar right before baking.
The recipe makes one dozen, but I'd highly suggest doubling it. They tend to go fast, especially if kids are around.
Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins
- 2 cups all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 cups blueberries, rinsed and picked over
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease the top of the muffin pan and line the pan with paper muffin cups.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add half the flour mixture and half the milk and mix well. Add the remaining half of the flour mixture and milk, mixing until smooth.
- Mash 1/2 cup of the blueberries with a fork and mix into the batter. Fold in the remaining whole blueberries.
- Fill the muffin cups all the way to the rim with batter. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar over the tops of the muffins. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 20 to 30 minutes before removing from the pan.
- Store the muffins uncovered overnight so they won't be too soggy the next day.
Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook
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