Blueberry Orange Muffins

Week Forty-Two: Muffin Week


I might have heeded the warning signs.

The first: one tablespoon of baking powder.  For twelve muffins.

The second: the origin of this recipe was a promotional pamphlet of recipes that my mom had held onto since the early 80s.  I remember it being a permanent fixture in her disaster zone of clipped recipes, more display now than any actual source of information.  I cannot recall her ever having made one recipe included in this pamphlet.

The third: the feeling of dread that took hold of me.

Okay, maybe the last was an exaggeration.  But I can’t help feeling that I should’ve known better.  It was a free marketing booklet!  Nobody makes those recipes!  All the recipe developers had to do was make it look halfway legitimate on paper, the cut out for an early happy hour.  (It’s what I would’ve done.)

But my head was turned by the promise of oat, blueberry, and orange, blending gracefully in a rustic and bright muffin. Surely somebody had tested and proofread it before publication.  One tablespoon of baking powder?


I guess they know what they’re talking about, thought I.

I thought wrong.  The batter, tasting strongly of fizzy soap from all the chemical leavening, was a ghoulish purple color from the blueberries.  In the oven, they didn’t dome cheerfully as you might reasonably expect of a muffin, but rather heaved their tops out flatly over the edge of the muffin pan, in a compulsory and begrudging manner.

After coaxing the stubborn things from the pan, I took a taste, hoping the flavor would make up for their lifeless appearance.  Again, a disappointment; the flavor was overwhelmingly bland, the occasional bite of blueberry the only acknowledgement that any flavorings had been added at all.  The coarse texture of oatmeal, usually pleasing, felt more like an intrusion here, bringing a spiteful chew where there ought to have been a rustic characteristic.

I’m giving the recipe below against my better judgement; I certainly don’t advise anyone to make them as written.  I’m sure something could be done to improve this recipe; I’m not sure what, just yet.  Lessons were learned today: don’t trust free marketing brochures, listen to your instinct, and one tablespoon is far too much baking powder.  So new knowledge in hand, I go on bravely, to better and grander things.  I certainly couldn’t do much worse than these.

Blueberry Orange Muffins
Adapted from some free marketing thing from the 80s
Makes 12 muffins

6 ounces (1 1/3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup orange juice (from 1 orange)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (from 1 orange)

1.  Preheat oven to 400º F.  Grease 12 standard muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Gently stir in the blueberries.  Add the remaining ingredients, and stir gently until just combined.

3.  Divide mixture evenly between prepared muffin cups.  Bake at 400º F for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove from pan, and transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

1.  Don’t make this recipe, unless you heavily modify it.

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