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Bouchon Bakery’s Incomparable Blueberry Muffins

Imagine a muffin that’s moist through and through, tender and fluffy rather than dense, filled with plump blueberries, and crowned with a majestic halo of crunchy, nutty streusel.

Leave it to one of the world’s best chefs, Thomas Keller, to elevate the humble blueberry muffin to a work of art.

I’ve had these many a time at his Bouchon Bakery in Yountville.

But with the publication of his “Bouchon Bakery” (Artisan) with his Executive Pastry Chef Sebastien Rouxel of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, I can now make them happily at home. The cookbook, of which I recently received a review copy, includes 150 recipes for pastries and breads. Some like the Pear Feuilletes, made with homemade puff pastry, are geared to the more skilled baker. But there are plenty of others such as the Chocolate Chunk and Chip Cookies that novice bakers will embrace.

The “Blueberry Muffins” are quite simple, too. Keller writes in the book that the key to a great muffin is resting the batter overnight in the refrigerator. This allows the flour to absorb all the liquid, resulting in a very moist muffin. Plus if you make it the day before, it’s all set to go for baking in the morning. What a way to wake up.

The measurements for all the recipes in the book are done by weight, but include the corresponding conventional measurements in cups and tablespoons. That’s why you’ll find the amount of eggs called for in this recipe to be “72 grams or 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons.” I actually weighed and measured it. It comes out to be just a smidgeon more than 1 large egg. So, feel free to just use that if you don’t want to go to the bother of cracking open a second egg to use only a portion of it.

I also changed the way the butter is incorporated. Keller starts with cold butter, then creams it with a stand mixer. Periodically, he will hold the bowl over a burner or use a blowtorch against the outside of the bowl, to encourage the softening. I’m not sure many of us at home are going to go that far. So, I merely softened the butter by leaving it out on the counter at room temperature, just as I would do with most other baking recipes. It worked just fine.

The struesel recipe makes much more than you’ll need for these six jumbo-sized muffins. But you can freeze the remainder to use on another batch in the future.

Because, believe me, with muffins this perfect, you’ll be making them again and again.

Blueberry Muffins

(Makes 6 jumbo muffins)

For batter:

3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (180 grams) frozen wild blueberries

1 tablespoon (10 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (86 grams) all-purpose flour

3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (109 grams) cake flour

1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon (2.8 grams) baking powder

1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon (2.8 grams) baking soda

3/4 teaspoon (2.4 grams) salt

3.4 ounces (96 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup (96 grams) granulated sugar

2 tablespoons (40 grams) unsulfured blackstrap or dark molasses

2 1/2 tablespoons (54 grams) clover honey

1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons (72 grams) eggs (or about 1 large egg)

1/4 teaspoon (1.2 grams) vanilla paste

1/4 cup (57 grams) buttermilk

Almond Streusel Recipe (follows)

Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

For the batter: Toss blueberries with the 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour in a small bowl, and place in the freezer.

Place remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour in a medium bowl. Sift in the cake flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add salt and whisk together.

Place butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, turn to medium-low speed, and cream the butter, until it’s the consistency of mayonnaise.

Add sugar and mix on medium-low speed for about 1 minute until the mixture is fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add molasses and honey and mix on low speed for about 1 minute to incorporate.

Add eggs and vanilla paste and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, until just combined. Add half the flour mixture and mix on low speed for 15 seconds, or until just combined. Add half the buttermilk and mix for 15 to 30 seconds to combine. Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients, followed by the remaining buttermilk.

Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any dry ingredients that have settled there. Transfer the batter to a covered container and refrigerate overnight, or up to 36 hours.

To bake the muffins: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a 6-cup jumbo muffin pan with muffin papers and spray the papers with nonstick cooking spray. Remove the batter from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes to begin to soften.

Stir the blueberries into the batter and spoon batter evenly into the muffin papers, stopping about 3/8 inch from the top (about 140 grams each). Sprinkle 30 grams or a generous 3 tablespoons of the streusel on top of each muffin.

Place pan in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees, and bake for 36 to 40 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

The muffins are best the day they are baked, but they can be wrapped individually in a few layers of plastic wrap or stored in a single layer in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 week. Defrost the muffins still in the container so any condensation will form on the outside of the container and not on the muffins. Place on a sheet rack and refresh in a 325-degree oven for about 5 minutes, if desired.

Almond Streusel Topping

(Makes 3 3/4 cups)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (120) grams all-purpose flour

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (120 grams) almond flour/meal

1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (120 grams) granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon (0.6 grams) kosher salt

4.2 ounces (120 grams) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Combine the all-purpose flour, almond flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk to break up any lumps.

Add butter and toss to coat the pieces. Work the mixture with your fingertips, breaking the butter into pieces  no larger than 1/8 inch and combining it with the flour mixture. Do not overwork the mixture or allow the butter to become soft; if it does, place the bowl in the refrigerator to harden the butter before continuing.

Transfer the streusel to a covered container or resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days, or freeze up to 1 month. Use the streusel while it is cold.

This recipe makes about twice as much streusel as you will need to make 6 jumbo blueberry muffins. Just freeze the remaining streusel to use when you bake another batch of muffins.

Adapted from “Bouchon Bakery” by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel

More Sweet Recipes From Thomas Keller: Ad Hoc Chocolate Chip Cookies

And: Ad Hoc’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake