Ever since watching Take This Waltz, a beautiful film by Canadian director Sarah Polley, I’ve wanted to make blueberry muffins. The movie opens on a shot of the young Margot cooking in a colorful, sunlit, and boiling kitchen. It’s the middle of the summer, so it seems, in Toronto, and she’s making blueberry muffins. They go into the oven, she leans against the oven door waiting as they cook, but we never see them come out. I wondered, but who eats these muffins?
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, just out, is a glorious compilation of Deb Perelman’s delicious concoctions. She’s outdone herself with a series of stunning recipes. Over breakfast I leaf through her book. It’s in my living room, either on the table or on the futon, always an arm’s reach away. She has a recipe of plum poppy seed muffins, which I adapted into blueberry cardamom poppy seed muffins. The trick is to brown the butter beforehand and to barely stir the batter. This past Saturday as I was strolling at the Farmer’s Market at Grand Army Plaza I bought two muffins, apple & walnut and blueberry. They were full to the brim with fruits and nuts, but too sweet and sticky. The Smitten Kitchen recipe achieves a fine balance, essential to the muffin: very light sweetness, softness with a moist center, and a crispy top. I like the pop and crunch of the seeds and the bright blue coloring of the berries. Next time I have a potluck brunch, I know I’ll be bringing these muffins. Though for lazy days I stop by a neighborhood favorite, Blue Sky Bakery (@53 5th Avenue, Brooklyn).

——————————————————————–Blueberry, poppy seed, cardamom muffins——————————————————————–


6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, browned and cooled, plus butter for muffins
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup sour cream
½ cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 ½ cups blueberries
Preheat your oven at 375 degrees. Butter twelve muffin cups.
First brown the butter: In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, foam, turn clear, and then finally turn brown and release a nutty smell. Stir continuously, scraping the sides, and stay attentive, as the butter will brown within a few seconds. Turn the flame off as soon as you see it turn brown and smell nutty, otherwise it will burn. Set aside.
2. Whisk the egg with both sugars in a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter and the sour cream. In a separate bowl, mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, nutmeg, and poppy seeds, and stir them into the sour-cream mixture until just combined and a bit lumpy. Don’t over-stir. Fold in the blueberries.
3. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Rest muffins in the pan on a cooling rack for 2 minutes, then remove them from the tin to cool them completely.

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