These honey blueberry muffins topped with streusel crumble topping are baked at a higher temperature initially to help form a bigger muffin top, which everybody loves.
Ah, the elusive, highly sought after muffin top (and I’m not referring to the unsightly overhang happening because my pants are too tight). I’m talking about the domed top of the muffin that you can only find on jumbo muffins served at cafes. It’s the favourite part for most muffin connoisseurs, In fact, there was even a whole Seinfeld episode about muffin tops. Everybody wants the top.
Once the top is gone, the stump is hard to eat. It sticks to the paper. It crumbles between your fingers. Crumbs spill all over everywhere, and the berries and chocolate chips stain your fingers. It’s a real mess. Nobody likes the stump of the muffin.
Blueberry muffins are easy to make and I like to mix them by hand so no special electric mixers required! Still, there are a few tools that will make your muffin-baking sessions a little easier:
- Muffin pans: for regular muffins, you can’t get away without a muffin pan. And if you can, please invest in two 6-cup muffin pans (like this Wilton pan on Amazon) or one bigger 12-cup muffin pan (like these Wilton pans on Amazon). This way you will be ready to make full batches of most recipes, which can yield anywhere from 8 to 12 muffins, depending on how much batter you scoop per cup.
- Paper liners, parchment liners, silicone liners: we can debate over which is better for muffins, but personally, I like disposable paper liners (like these on Amazon that you would use for cupcakes too). For lower fat muffins or muffins with less sugar, these can stick to paper liners. In this case, use parchment liners (Amazon) or silicone liners (Amazon). Savoury muffins, for example, work best baked in either of these.
- Large cookie scoops: Some call them “dishers” and they are these are the most reliable scoops I’ve found on Amazon. They can handle firm doughs without breaking because the release mechanism is separate from the handle! This gives you a better, firm grip on the handle, without the risk of breaking the leaver. The handles are different colours according to the size.
- Cake tester and/or instant-read thermometer: if you bake a lot, you can probably gently poke muffins with your fingertip and instinctively know when they are done baking. The rest of us have to use a cake tester or thermometer to check if muffins are done baking.
I’ve been wondering about how coffee shops achieve the famous “muffin top.” So, I did some research, and I baked a lot of muffins to find out how.
First of all a thicker batter is key to forming a muffin top. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s a structural thing. Thick batters have more structure therefore the steam from baking really pushes it up, while think batters tend to spread out more than up, I guess.
Another trick to achieving a bigger muffin top: actually filling the muffin paper. The more full the paper, the more of a top you get. Duh! But there’s a risk that the batter may overflow onto the pan, sticking to it. Something to keep in mind. You may want to grease the muffin pan rim all over the surface to avoid any sticking.
And to further the “muffin top experiment”, I also tested 4 baking methods to see which yields the best muffin tops (this is where “I get my geek on”):
- Mix batter and bake immediately at 350°F: fairly flat top, not much of a top
- Mix batter and bake immediately starting at 425°F for about 8 minutes, then finishing the baking time at 350°F: pointed dome top that really peaks upward
- Mix batter and store in fridge overnight, then bake 24 hours later at 350°F: same as #1 but more puffed
- Mix batter and store in fridge overnight, then bake 24 hours later starting at 425°F, then immediately dropping oven temperature setting to 350°F when you put them in the oven (as recommended by Thomas Keller in his Bouchon Bakery book): same as #3
- Remove the paper liner completely from the muffin
- Flip over the muffin
- Eat the muffin, from the bottom to the top, saving the best for last, which is the muffin top (turned bottom)
It really doesn’t matter what temperature you bake these muffins because these are some of the best fruit muffins I’ve made, stump and all. I am a huge fan of blueberry muffins but what sends these over the top is the honey: the honey flavour is actually quite pronounced, especially on the aftertaste.
I baked these to a deeper “golden brown delicious” to really enhance the caramel notes of the cake. No bland vanilla taste here. If it’s rhubarb season, be sure to make these strawberry rhubarb muffins with streusel topping, which is almost the same recipe as this one but made with ground almond and sour cream in the muffin batter for a richer, a little more dense muffin.
For another blueberry muffin, try these blueberry bran muffins. And if you bake a batch of muffins and you notice the blueberries in muffins turn green or changed colour as they baked, don’t panic. That could be the effect of pH on the colour of the berries, but that has zero impact on the flavour of the berries. Just as yummy and safe to eat, though the green blueberries can be a little off-putting!
Honey blueberry muffins
For the streusel topping
- 20 grams (1½ tbsp) all-purpose flour
- 20 grams (3½ tbsp) ground almonds
- 20 grams (1½ tbsp) granulated sugar
- 1 pinch fine kosher salt
- 20 grams (1½ tbsp) unsalted butter melted
For the muffin batter
- 180 grams (6 oz) blueberries frozen or fresh
- 250 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
- 2.5 mL (½ tsp) baking powder
- 2.5 mL (½ tsp) baking soda
- 2.5 mL (½ tsp) fine kosher salt
- 115 grams (½ cup) unsalted butter room temperature, cut into small pieces
- 94 grams (¼ cup) honey
- 80 mL (⅓ cup) buttermilk
- 5 mL (1 tsp) pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 8 grams (1 tbsp) all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 425 ºF. Line two muffin pans with 8 to 10 muffin paper liners being sure to space them out between the two pans to allow better air flow.
To make streusel topping
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almond, sugar, and salt.
- Add the melted butter and stir with a fork until a crumble forms.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make honey blueberry muffins
- If you are using fresh blueberries, place them in the freezer before beginning. If using frozen, keep them in the freezer until you need them.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the softened butter and work it in with your hands, rubbing it in until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the honey, the eggs, the buttermilk, and the vanilla.
- Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir it in (takes about 20 stirs to get the batter mixed).
- When the batter is ready, in a medium bowl, toss the frozen blueberries with the extra 8 grams of flour to coat the blueberries evenly.
- Fold the floured blueberries into the batter gently with a wooden spoon or spatula to evenly distribute them.
- Divide the batter between 8 to 10 paper-lined wells of two muffin pans. If you want big muffins, you'll need 8, if you want regular-sized muffins, you'll need 10. Sprinkle with streusel.
- Bake at 425°F for 20 minutes, then use a cake tester inserted into the middle of a muffin to check if the muffins are baked. If you are baking 8 muffins, they probably aren't baked through at this point, so rotate the pans and drop the temperature setting to 350°F for the last 5 to 10 minutes or as much as necessary.
Want to see more muffins? Here are a few other recipes for you to try:
Janice Lawandi is chemist-turned-baker, working as a recipe developer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and cooking at l’Académie Culinaire. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from Concordia University and a PhD in Chemistry from McGill University. Visit janicelawandi.com to see my portfolio.