I struggle with writer’s block under the weirdest of circumstances. I’m in the middle of a bout currently, and I suspect this time it’s pollen-related. Simply put, I can not think. Mind you, it doesn’t keep me from baking, but I can only summon enough energy to eat what I make; writing about it is out of the question. So I’ve had a little bit of a delay with posts, and for that, I apologize. Having writer’s block does make me appreciate, however, everyone (including quite a few of you) who have real writing jobs which demand, among other things, real deadlines. I remember deadlines. I remember meeting them. I remember thinking I would never be able to meet them. I remember crying in frustration and not being able to write a thing sometimes. Because of that, and my current cage match with spring allergies, I have the fiercest appreciation for those of us who write because we want to, and because we love it, but also because we have a job to finish.
Currently, I am super proud of Brianne over at Documenting Our Dinner, who just, just like, today, successfully defended her thesis, thereby earning her Masters degree. In my book, she is already awesome, but to devote that much time and energy to something like that is quite an achievement in and of itself.
I got to know Brianne over our mutual love of all things Momofuku Milk Bar. I also happen to know she likes blueberries. I have been trying to make a good blueberry muffin recipe for months now, and so far, the recipes I tried had fallen short of what I wanted. I knew her thesis defense was coming up soon, so I decided to go all in and “Momofuku” a blueberry muffin recipe specifically for her.
I failed the first few attempts. I came close with a version (a photo of which ended up on my Facebook page) that tasted pretty delicious, but looked weird and ended up a little too much on the dense side of things. Like, actually heavy after the first day. I was frustrated. I had no idea if I’d make my “deadline” or not, but then; successful muffins emerged from my oven.
You see those lumps in the batter there? those aren’t lumps of flour in the batter…those are lumps of Momofuku Milk Bar Pie Crumb, which are used both in the muffins and on top. They really give the muffins a “pie-ish” taste versus a normal blueberry muffin.
The second layer of pie-ishness comes from taking some of the blueberries and breaking them down with a bit of sugar in a saucepan to make a blueberry jam/pie filling. Rather than mixing it in completely to your muffins (and producing purple muffins), you swirl it into the batter right before it goes into the oven.
The pie crumb topping really makes the whole thing come together. It gives a nice little crunch and texture to a very fruit-filled, dense muffin. And I should mention something very important: just because these are blueberry pie muffins doesn’t mean they should only be eaten for dessert. These would be absolutely perfect for breakfast.
So these muffins were a win/win: I made my deadline for Brianne’s thesis defense (well, sort of; they were baked before the big day, just not written about) and I finally found my perfect blueberry muffin. And – bonus – you get the recipe, so hopefully this can be your perfect blueberry muffin too.
This muffin consists of two recipes; one for the pie crumb and one for the blueberry muffin itself. Would this muffin be scrumptious without the pie crumb? Yes it would – I tried it when I started messing with this muffin project. But it won’t have nearly as much blueberry pie taste to it as you’ll get by including the pie crumb. As further incentive to make both, any leftover pie crumb you have makes the best snack ever, so you have that to look forward to.
Pie Crumb adapted from the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook by Christina Tosi. Blueberry Muffin recipe adapted from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2010 by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen.
Blueberry Pie Muffins
for the pie crumb:
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 tablespoons water
- 2 1/2 cups (about 12 ounces) fresh blueberries, picked over for stems
- 1 teaspoon sugar (for the jam-making)
- 1 cup sugar (for the batter)
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups pie crumb (above) plus more for sprinkling the tops
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on low speed until well mixed. Add the butter and water and paddle on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters.
Alternately, you can do this in a large bowl using a whisk to whisk together your dry ingredients. Add the butter and water and, using a spatula, toss until the mixture starts to come together into clusters. Then use your fingers and mix together, breaking up large clumps and kneading the mixture together until it is fully incorporated and in small clusters.
Spread the clusters on your prepared sheet pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes, breaking your crumbs up about halfway through baking. When done, the crumbs should be very slightly golden brown and still a little moist to the touch; they will dry and harden as they cool.
Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or eating. Stored in an airtight container, the crumbs will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer. The recipe yields a little over 2 1/2 cups of crumb, so you’ll have plenty for the recipe and a little left over for snacking.