Now that the Pontchartrain Hotel is being resurrected and refurbished what better time to remember and remake their famous blueberry muffins? (Well, actually a better time might have been earlier in the summer when the berries were fresher and cheaper, but hey, I do have a life too).
Loved by children and former children, they were served for decades at the Silver Whistle Cafe, where neighborhood power brokers networked over breakfast and families had huge after church brunches.
This version renders a light, but not overly sweet muffin. My variation on the theme, which I’m sure isn’t consistent with the original version, is to include the zest of a small lemon and half a teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg. The lemon zest acts as a foil to the fruit and the nutmeg is more interesting here than cinnamon. However, if cinnamon’s all you got, it’s fine too.
Nutmeg, which is the fruit of the nutmeg tree (Myristica Fragrans to you botanists) should ideally be freshly grated and has uses in many savory dishes as well as sweet. It also has hallucinogenic properties via its component myristicin whose chemical structure is similar to mescaline. I found this out in college when a cooler kid than I informed me that “Malcolm” (as in X) “got totally wasted on nutmeg when he was in stir. Can you believe it?” Well, actually I didn’t believe it until I looked it up but sure enough, Malcolm did kick back at night with a shot or two of nutmeg infused prison water, dry martinis being in short supply. And Malcolm was not the first. The nun, Hildegard von Bingen, wrote about its stimulating properties back in the 12th century. And isn’t it great that my parents sent me to college where I was able to acquire such useful information? Best not to think about too much when you’re setting up your kid’s 529 Savings Plan where your new car and vacation funds go to die.
But back to the muffins and their blueberries which may be fresh, canned or frozen. If you desire perfect photogenic muffins (like mine) go with the fresh. The other options will bleed a bit into the batter but won’t affect the taste and they’ll still be eaten.
As for the flour I specify white pastry because it gives a delicate crumb that I like in this muffin. However, all purpose or wheat pastry flour are both delicious, if a little heavier, so just go with your preferences or what’s at hand.
- ¼ cup melted butter, cooled to room temp.
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, beaten
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup sour cream
- zest of a small lemon
- 1¾s cup pastry flour (or all purpose)
- 3 tsps. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. nutmeg
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1½ cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Mix butter, sugar, & vanilla extract & egg.
- Add sour cream then milk and beat until well combined.
- If you are using a mixer stop now.
- Sift flour, baking powder, nutmeg & salt and fold in. This should be folded in well, but there will still be small lumps. You can use a wire whisk to gently work them out, but if you beat this too much it will bake up rubbery so go easy.
- Fold in blueberries. If you are using canned or frozen know that however carefully you fold them in the berries will break and bleed into the batter. This doesn't affect the taste, but will make the muffin look like a tie dyed shirt.
- Drop in buttered (or Pam sprayed) muffin tin and bake until brown about 25 minutes.
- You can add a light dusting of cinnamon sugar on top before baking.
For Cranberry Orange - Add cranberries & zest of an orange
For Banana Pecan - Add one chopped banana, 1 cup chopped toasted pecans, lemon zest, ¼ tsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice