Donna vs. Martha: Round One – Blueberry Muffins!

4 02 2008

That’s right. I fired the shot that was heard around the world. I’ve started an inter-continental war and broken the stalemate. It’s no longer quiet on the western front, and I’m giving Forrest Gump a run for his money… and the battle field? My kitchen counter top! En garde!
I have been craving blueberry muffins since Tuesday, and I could NOT do anything to sate the weird hankering. So, the second I got home from school, I took out my guns (needed for mixing batter) and began a grueling battle between two domestic moguls, each of her respective hemisphere. Representing the southern hemisphere, we have Donna Hay, the Australian food empress and author of several cookbooks, magazines, and columns. From the north, we have Martha Stewart, American entrepreneur and author of magazines, books, and the self-titled collection of home decor. On use real butter, I found a Donna Hay Blueberry Cake recipe, originally intended as a muffin. From Felicia Sullivan, I found a Marta Blueberry Muffin recipe. With a detailed layout of the military operations, I began.

Flour your berries to prevent them from sinking to the bottom. It was possible to use both frozen or fresh berries. I used frozen the first batch of each I made, and found that frozen berries are just bland. For my second batch of each recipe, I used dried – and it was (believe it or not) better! The flavor is a bit more intense, so I would recommend using fewer dried berries than specified by the recipe. Alternatively, these recipes would work well with any type of berry I think – cranberries, blackberries, raspberries… the very thought makes my mouth water. And in dried, fresh or frozen too I think. I am a big fan of fresh, but if you don’t have it, then dried is better than frozen I think. And if you don’t allow the frozen ones to thaw completely, you will have a slightly bland and extra moist muffin as the water will have been soaked into the batter while baking.

Fold berries into dough. When you add the berries, be sure to fold and not beat or cream the berries into the batter, especially if you have fresh or frozen berries. You will end up with a beautiful blue muffin if you do. So instead, use a spatula and gently fold in. Use about a generous teaspoon of flour and sprinkle over the berries. Throw the berries around until they are all coated, then use a sieve to remove any left over flour. Dump berries into the batter and gently fold.

Muffins are known for those slightly crunchy, golden-brown dome tops. So fill your tins almost to the top to achieve the domes. Sprinkle a little sugar onto each before baking. That will help give the muffin some color and crust. And if you leave the muffins in the oven for an extra minute or so, the sides will crunch up a bit, delicious! It’s my favorite part of the muffin, and gives way to a moist and soft center. Oooh yum. For batter that seems to have a hard time browning, I cheat a little. Bake the muffins just so it passes the toothpick test, then broil your muffins for just a minute or so, while keeping a watchful eye. This is cheating! It browns the tops without over baking the interior. This will also prevent the inside from drying out or becoming too dense. Clearly, I have no formal baking background…


Donna Hay Blueberry Muffins
found on use real butter

So this recipe creates a soft and light cake textured muffin. It is very fluffy, and the lemon rind helps keep the dough from tasting too dense or floury. It is mildly sweet, but contrasts very well with the berries. My only problem with this recipe is that the muffins refused to brown – and I need my muffins to brown, or else I pretty much won’t eat them. So I ended up leaving these in the oven an extra 10 minutes or so (oops) to achieve the color I wanted, but to no avail. The surprising thing is, however, I loved them either way. Not much of a muffin, but a great cake. No wonder why Jennifer from use real butter made these into a cake instead of muffins. I still think these would make a lovely breakfast pastry though. They are a delicious and a must try for a light blueberry cake.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Martha Stewart Blueberry Muffins
found on Felicia Sullivan

My heart was stolen by the scent of these baking in the oven. These muffins robbed me of my senses when I first peeked at their gorgeous brown domes, slightly crackled and steaming through the oven window. I knew in an instant that my life would never be complete without these. Okay, so I exaggerate a little, but I have chosen my champion. I have declared a winner, and hands-down, these Martha Stewart Blueberry Muffins are all that. I brought my first batch to school, and in a blink of an eye, the entire tray disappeared, without a crumb left for someoneiknow. Yes, I am in love – with these muffins that is!

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

So another week gone by, another week to come. There are a lot of crazy things going on in February, and I am super excited about everything. For starters, there are two huge birthdays coming up this week – Nicole and Aman. Nicole writes for this blog, and you will get to know her personally very soon. Aman is my spirits enthusiast, creator and official guinea pig of every cocktail concoction we put together in the kitchen. Beer curacao anyone? Or a Happy New Year instead? Our favorites are still SOB and Hawaiian Dream, I think. Also this week, we continue the pre-Lunar New Year’s festivities, first with my Viet101 class and then with the family at the end of the week. A lot to look forward to, right? Further into the month, I am going to a concert (although if I tell you which one, it will give away who I am going with…), and of course there’s V-Day (eek), and a few more special birthdays scattered here and there. So, this is my post for the week. Hope you enjoyed reading Em’s post this week, and check back often! Or even better, subscribe to our feeds (see right)!! So until next time my lovely readers. Wishing you a fabulous New Year! May it be better than the last, and full of good times, good luck, and good health. Fare thee well!

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14 responses

4 02 2008
Kari

punk you will not believe what i spent this weekend doing.
YES.
baking blueberry muffins for you.
this is ridiculous.
i cannot believe you made blueberry muffins too!
i am royally pissed. well not really. laughing through the hacking coughs though.
come over and try my (infinitely better) blueberry muffins!

4 02 2008
Jen

BEAUTIFUL. I love your posts :)

4 02 2008
annie

freaken beez. your posts sound like you are on speed when you think of what to say. i made AWESOME cupcakes this weekend. they were shirley temple cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. AMAAAAAZING. we shall make them and you will experience an orgasm in your mouth. going home for lunar new year?

4 02 2008
Diem Pham

awww I love your posts …drooling =)

5 02 2008
Kari

POPPED THAT TASTESPOTTING CHERRY

ahahaha stay tuned for the Muffins that Kicked the Tastespotting Muffins’ Arses

5 02 2008
tara

I have to say, I have had a similar trouble of rather anemic tops with the DH muffins. I have taken to adding things like a streusel topping, additional berries or a sprinkling of sugar to hide their pale colour. They’re always a hit, but I have no idea why they will no brown – as you say, an essential in a muffin!

5 02 2008
brilynn

All disputes should be settles in the kitchen battlefield, I need to go make me some muffins…

6 02 2008
Char

I want to watch you bake.

13 02 2008
Baking Insomniacs « Confessions from the Cookie Jar

[...] remember how I was craving blueberry muffins last week? Well, Kari has a sixth sense that apparently reads all my cravings like a radar. So, she ALSO made [...]

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