Thursday, June 21, 2007

Best Blueberry Muffins

Sunday, June 17, 2007
It being Father's Day, and Jim being very fond of both scones and blueberries, it seemed like a good idea to bake blueberry scones.
The claim of "best" blueberry muffins is not mine--it's from Cook's Illustrated. I'm sure that most of you know Cook's; it's the magazine where someone tries about 400 variations of a particular recipe and then says that the final recipe is the best possible version. I'm not sure that I would call this the very best possible blueberry scone, but I'm also not sure I've ever had a better one.
I wanted to try this particular recipe because it had a couple of intriguing techniques. Instead of mixing the butter into the flour with your fingers or with a pastry blender, the author (J. Kenji Alt), came up with the rather brilliant idea of grating frozen butter into the flour mixture (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest). Although grating the butter was kind of a pain, it couldn't be easier to toss everything together so that the butter stays cold.
Another clever variation is to fold the dough using several business letter turns to get buttery layers--a la puff pastry. Finally, instead of mixing the blueberries into the dough (thus getting blue dough), the author came up with the idea of rolling the dough into a rectangle, pressing the blueberries on top, and then rolling the dough, jellyroll fashion, into a log. Finally, you press the log into a rectangle and cut into eight scone-shaped triangles.
Jim was very pleased. Sarah was very pleased. I was also pleased, especially because I got to use my dough scraper, which makes me feel like I know what I'm doing. Elizabeth, home for the weekend, announced that she didn't like scones and that if you are going to eat a scone, you might as well just eat a big lump of butter. (She did eat half of one on Monday, and admitted that it might be just a tad tastier than the lump of butter option).


Melinda said...

They look pleasing! I am pleased too that you posted these!
Love the pro attitude your dough scraper give you. I feel Frenchy cool when I use my couche.

breadbasketcase said...

I'm pleased that you are pleased! Of course you feel cool when you use a couche--how could you not?

Anonymous said...

Ohmigod, these scones are incredible! My family had just come back from blueberry picking in Indiana, and I happened to have the latest Cook's Illustrated. Agree that the butter grating business seems like a pain, but it all makes sense when tossing into the flour mixture. The results were all worth the effort, and we got to knock off some blueberries in the process.