A friend was coming over for coffee and conversation one day last week so I made a batch of muffins as a tasty little go-with. Ilise suggested marrying two great muffin flavors together – “I now pronounce you blueberry and banana.” I found a random recipe on the internet (not linked here because, well, did you see that alternate title?) and started mixing.
Partway through I had an aha moment and then it was gone. For half a second I remembered some advice about tossing blueberries in flour before adding them to batter in order to minimize color bleed and avoid having the berries sink to the bottom. I thought, “You know, I should go look that up. Yes indeed, any minute now I’m going to look it up. No, I certainly will NOT proceed to make these blueberry banana muffins without solid guidance in the matter!”
I think you know how this ends. I researched NOTHING and wound up with ugly gray muffins. They didn’t taste terrible but it’s hard to overlook the look of ‘em.
So here’s how to avoid blueberry badness, from no less a source than the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.
I mean, they oughta know, right?
Have you ever noticed that in muffins and other baked goods, fresh and frozen blueberries can easily sink to the bottom of the pan? This is easy to prevent! Just spread half of the batter in the pan, then add half the blueberries, top them with the remaining batter and top it off with the remaining blueberries. You can also coat blueberries with flour before stirring them into your batter.
One reason blueberries sink is because the batter may be too thin. Another reason might be that too much air has been incorporated into the batter: avoid over blending during the first stage of mixing. Here are a few more tips for baking with blueberries:
Try substituting dried blueberries for fresh or frozen ones. They remain suspended in the batter during baking and maintain a more structured texture than their fresh or frozen counterparts. They’re also less likely to burst when they get hot.
When adding blueberries to your batter, minimize streaking by gently folding them in at the end of the mix cycle.
If you’re using frozen blueberries, add them before they have a chance to thaw and bake your dish immediately to prevent color leeching and streaking.
Photos: Ann Johnson