8.24.2013

A Family Recipe

I don't make blueberry muffins – or any muffins – all that often but, when I do, I make my Aunt Rae's recipe. Today, I made them as a little birthday treat... for me!

Mom made muffins from time to time, but they were really never her thing. Her sister, Aunt Rae, however, was the Muffin Queen. She made the best, lightest, and most tender muffins I have ever eaten. And she wasn't afraid to try new varieties, either.

My favorites from her repertoire of muffins: rhubarb, golden raisin-rosemary, cinnamon pecan, plain, and - of course - blueberry.

To this day, she has ruined bakery muffins for me. You know the type: those gargantuan, heavy, gummy, baking powder-laden, oily fat bombs. When I get the occasional bakery muffin, I regret it only moments later, as it weighs like lead in my stomach.

Every time we visited Aunt Rae in her small town of Saxton's River, Vermont, breakfast consisted of cocoa and muffins. It became a tradition for us. We looked forward to her muffins each time we traveled over the mountains of New Hampshire from Maine.

She always said the blueberry muffin recipe was a family recipe, and I wish I knew from whom it came. Her mother (my Gramma)? Gramma's mother? I don't think we will ever know.

Her muffins weren't good because of the recipe, whether it was from the family, Bon Appétit, Cooking Light, or the local newspaper. They were good because she made them with a lot of love and care; I know that is the reason they were so good. Those are key ingredients for any muffin... for any cooking, really.

After making blueberry-lavender jam the other day, I had leftover blueberries. A birthday batch of muffins seemed like a good idea. I had some extra love and care on hand, too. I took the leftovers to work on Monday and, as it turns out, that was a good idea, too... they were gone in minutes!

~ David

Finished muffins on a special platter given to us by our friend Bunny as a wedding gift.
Aunt Rae's Blueberry Muffins
(My sister-in-law's recipe card reads: Aunt Rae's FAMOUS Blueberry Muffins!)

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for pans

1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
large pinch salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 375°F.


On low speed, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix well until blended.


Sift dry ingredients together (I whisk them together in a mixing bowl) and add them alternately with the milk in three additions each. Add the vanilla and stir to blend.


Mash half the berries in a bowl, then stir into the batter with a wooden spoon. Carefully stir in the remaining whole berries.


Grease 18 regular muffin tins well with butter. Fill each mold about two-thirds full. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool 30 minutes in the pan before removing them to finish cooling on racks.


(Note: my muffin tins are not nonstick, so I cut small circles of parchment and place them on the butter in the bottom of each tin. Then, when unmolding, I us a very thin rubber spatula to release the sides. I peel off the parchment before serving.)


Makes 18 muffins.

29 comments:

  1. Aunt Rae's muffins—and just about anything she made—were the best! Weren't we lucky to be so spoiled? Baci, cugino - m.

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    1. We were so lucky, cugina! I still think of her all the time! Baci ed abbracci - d

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  2. David, actually, apart from some delightfully spicy carrot muffins, I believe Blueberry Muffins are my very favorite and I always love to try some wonderful new recipe - especially when it comes from such a reliable source as yourself! These look fabulous - not surprsing that you have such fond food memeories of these. So, it is your birthday on Monday, August! Another nice "fact" that we share - I shall congratulate you on Monday (we kind of believe it is bad luck to do that before the BD...)
    Last but not least, sorry for being late with answering but we visited Antwerp, BE for the first time (I was on a food mission) and I boudght the promised wooden molds there in Belgium and will send them on their journey on your BD on Monday together with the traditinal spices, of course!
    Have a wonderful Sunday und liebe Grüße aus dem total verregneten Bonn!

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    1. Ed regnet hier auch im Tucson! Für mein Geburtstag! (We think rain is good here!)

      I am so glad you like muffin recipe - they are very special to me. And thank you so much for sending the speculaas molds! I am so excited to make them!

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    2. I forgot to tell you, Andrea, that when I lived in Heidelberg in 1980, I was there for my birthday and a friend Volker told me how one's name day is as important - if not more - than one's birthday! So now I celebrate both!

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  3. Birthday muffins, yay! You should find someone to make them for you David, and surprise you! Doesn't happen here either... I only like fresh muffins so bakery ones are hardly ever good. This is the perfect recipe for variations, basically any fruit lying around. Should I say hbd today or tomorrow..? PS: is Andrea sending you speculoos molds?? I'm SO jealous!

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    1. Paula - I actually thought of making them with raspberries this weekend, took, I love that half the fruit is crushed to keep the batter moist. If I had Mark make them, I would also have to watch him go crazy with fits in the kitchen... he might not survive! :)

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  4. Happy Birthday David!!! I wish you all the best!
    I love blueberry muffins and I will try yours. It's great when you have recipes passed down to you from loved ones, isn't it?
    xoxo

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    1. Thanks, Magda! I do love family recipes - tried and true, they are the best! xox

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  5. Hope you had a wonderful birthday!

    These sound lovely. T used to devour blueberries as a baby, to the extent that I think he overdosed slightly and now won't go near them, but I think if I snuck a few into some muffins, Aunt Rae style, he wouldn't object. Must try them.

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    1. SO funny, Ruth - when I was young, blueberries were the only berry I would eat. All others seemed so tart. Maybe Tom will grow out of it! How is the move going?

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  6. Happy Birthday David! It is always my greatest wish for Mr LG to make me a birthday cake on my birthday but much like Mark I fear he might not survive the experience...come to think of it I may not survive the experience either :) All the best for Monday!! Btw I love the colours on that platter, so pretty and it goes with your blueberry muffins perfectly!

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    1. Thanks, Karen! Mark read your comment and laughed out loud! He thinks that he and Mr. LG would probably survive, but it wouldn't be pretty... The platter was the inspiration to make something with blueberries!

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  7. These muffins look beautiful. Love the story and sentiment behind them too, definitely a worthy cake for a birthday celebration (Happy Birthday David!! Hope that Mark spoiled you!). You are completely right about the investment of 'love' into food also. I think that's part of the reason why some cafe muffins taste so terrible... cooking without love, care and passion results in a mechanically produced, inferior product. Love the photographs... the splashes of vibrant blue have completely brightened my morning! I'll definitely be trying Aunt Rae's recipe! x

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    1. Thanks, Laura - I am planning a day of spoiling myself! :) That means a full day in the kitchen - baking, trying new things, and experimenting.

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  8. SPECTACULAR MUFFINS,HOW BEAUTIFULLY THE BERRIES DOT IT,THESE SCRUMPTIOUS GOODIES WILL MAKE A HEAVENLY BREAKFAST TREAT :-)

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    1. Thanks, Kumar! They are a nice treat - I am having one with my cocoa right now!

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  9. I agree with you about those dreadfully heavy muffins you get at bakeries. Aside from sitting in your stomach like a brick, the muffins I've come across here in the States are soooo loaded with sugar.

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    1. John - it is always one of the big culinary embarrassments we face in the States - "more is always better." Things have to be too big, too sweet, too everything... I think you will like these - not too sweet, and definitely not too big. Just right, said Goldilocks.

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  10. Beautiful muffins. I'm sure your Aunt Rae would be proud. Oh, and Happy Birthday!

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    1. Thanks, Cory - on all counts! Wish Aunt Rae were here to share them with us.

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  11. What a wonderful family recipe. My grandmother made English Spice Buns - I'll have to revive that recipe.

    Wishing you every happiness! Happy Birthday! xo

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    1. English spice buns? Yes, please!!! I will keep an eye out for them! Thanks for the birthday wishes!

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  12. If only I had an Aunt Muffin Queen in the family. I'd even take a princess! These are so perfectly browned and I wish I'd find one waiting with my coffee in the morning.

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    1. Wish we lived closer - I would drop one by for your coffee!

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  13. Awww, I'm such a sucker for family recipes.
    D, these blueberry muffins look like awesome with morning coffee.
    I've gotta see how well I do at making them.
    Thanks for sharing! xo

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    1. Me too, Collette! I love my families old gems. I even made some of the recipe cards into dish towels for my brothers. They look so good! I am having a muffin now (second batch) with my cocoa... xox

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  14. You were born with a measuring spoon in your hand! A knack for extraordinary cooking in your DNA! And you always choose recipes I know I will love! Thanks for another good one....I know Aunt Rae is smiling!

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    1. Susan - I love your turn of phrase from silver spoon to measuring spoon! That is just perfect. Glad you like the recipe. xox

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