There are several beloved New England foods that any native can name (beyond the iconic Clam Chowder, Sam Adams beer, and Boston Brown Bread). Creamy Frappes, a delicious Raspberry Lime Rickey, Jimmies (not Sprinkles! Jimmies are chocolate and Sprinkles are the rainbow version), and my personal favorite, Jordan Marsh's Famous Blueberry Muffins!
All of the bakery's former locations are long gone, but the memories of juicy blueberries and sparkling sugar-flecked muffin tops remain. As a little girl, my Mum would take me shopping at Jordan Marsh near Downtown Crossing in Boston. The city was much grittier then; there was always an air of danger (or at least, it felt that way to the eight year old me) as we walked the underground passageway from the subway to the department store's lower entrance. The small and unassuming doorway that led to the wonderful bakery was like a light at the end of a dark tunnel.
The small hole-in-the-wall bakery was always filled with treats behind glass cases, all sitting at eye level for children. My mother would take me here to buy a dozen blueberry muffins after our shopping was done, just as her mother had done with her. Boxed and tied up in bakery twine, we would impatiently wait for the train-and-bus ride home to open up the box and devour the muffins with a glass or two of milk. If I had been especially good that day, I might (just maybe) get to eat one of the huge muffins right there in the shop. Now that I am a mum, I may not be able to take my boys to that bakery, but I definitely want them to experience that memorable first bite of golden vanilla-scented muffin with the blue-violet berries that marked so many of my childhood memories!
Jordan Marsh's Famous Blueberry Muffins
directions slightly modified from the original in my Mum's recipe box
makes 12 large muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened, but still cold to the touch
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, fresh is preferred
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
OR 1/4 cup Turbinado Sugar for sprinkling
Preheat your oven to 375F and prepare a standard sized muffin pan with your favorite liners.
Wash the blueberries and allow to drain. Reserve half a cup of blueberries and mash them with a fork in a small bowl. Store the rest of the blueberries in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Take 1 tablespoon of the flour mix and combine with the whole blueberries and stir gently. The flour will stop the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the muffins while baking.
Beat the slightly softened, but still cold butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand mixer. Beat until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time and beat to incorporate into the sugar/butter mixture.
Add the vanilla extract to the 1/2 cup of milk.
Alternating between the milk/vanilla mixture and the flour mix, beat into the butter and sugar, beating after each addition. Reserve the last flour portion to fold in by hand. Stir in the pureed blueberries.
Gently fold by hand the remaining portion of the flour mixture and the whole blueberries. Fold enough to just incorporate. You will still see some pockets of flour.
Using a batter scoop or ice cream scoop, portion out the dough to fill the 12 paper liners.
Top with the Turbinado sugar (or the sugar mixed with nutmeg, but I prefer the former).
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a test toothpick comes out clean.
Once baked, move to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes and then remove the muffins to the rack to cool completely.
Note: These muffins freeze very well, but you may end up losing some of the "crunch" of the tops during defrosting.