Home ec. Remember it? If so, you’re probably in at least your mid-30s, or maybe even a bit older. For those of you young enough to be scratching your head in confusion, home economics (“home ec.”) was what girls took in junior high (er, middle school) while the boys were taking shop. (And if anyone knows the official name for “shop,” illuminate me, please!)

Home ec. was invariably taught by an older lady, one well-versed in using paper patterns to make clothes, baking biscuits, and perhaps guardedly revealing a little bit about the birds and the bees: this was, after all, way before boys were allowed into home ec., or girls into shop. Nowadays, home ec. is often called something more all-encompassing, since it can involve up-to-date skills like credit-card management. It’s co-ed. And it’s probably not a required course, like it was back in ’60s.

I’m going to be upfront with you here: I nearly failed home ec. Every crooked seam I laboriously sewed was ripped out. I didn’t have “the touch” for biscuits. And I was bored to tears by the whole thing, preferring to stare out the window, at the athletic fields where I longed to be, while my classmates twittered around their Butterick patterns. When it came to housewifely skills, I just didn’t have the knack. Mrs. Deabler let me slip through, probably because she didn’t want to see me darken her classroom door again. And I thankfully washed my hands (literally) of the whole business.

One thing that stuck with me, though, was blueberry muffins. Once we’d graduated from biscuits, we tackled muffins. And though I never did master the flaky biscuit, I was able to whip up muffin batter with the best of them. My personal goal was to make blueberry muffins just like the ones at Jordan-Marsh, a Boston department store where we’d go once a year to buy school clothes. Big, moist, crumbly, and packed with berries, they were the ne plus ultra of muffin-dom. And their streaky blue signature look, the probable result of frozen berries, made blue food chic well before its “birth” in the ’90s.

The following recipe, Freezer-Case Blueberry Muffins, doesn’t come from my long-ago home ec. class. In fact, it was developed by fellow blogger Susan Reid who, with King Arthur Flour test kitchen director Sue Gray, is queen of all things cakey and muffin-y. I’ve upped the butter a bit, and substituted frozen berries (since that’s what’s always available), but other than that—thanks, Susan!

img_2102.JPG
These are my favorite frozen blueberries: they're also the least expensive, at least at my supermarket. They're the ideal size: not the TINY tiny little Maine blueberries, but not the huge fat ones you usually find in frozen form, either. These are about 1/4” across.

img_1816.JPG
First thing to do, if you want to minimize the blue streaks in your muffins, is to rinse the frozen berries, and pat them dry. Nice, huh? You could make a ’60s T-shirt out of this pattern...

img_1813.JPG
Mix the butter and sugar till they're well combined; they'll be crumbly, rather than creamy. Add the eggs...

img_1814.JPG
...plus the vanilla and almond extracts, and the sour cream or yogurt. Beat to make a thin batter. Add the leavening, salt, and flour; this will thicken it up and smooth it out nicely.

img_1818.JPG
GENTLY stir the blueberries into the thick batter. Don't be too thorough; the more you stir, the more blue-streaky the batter will become.

img_1843.JPG
Scoop the batter into 12 muffin cups. I like to line the cups with muffin papers, which I also grease; this allows the papers to slip seamlessly off the hot baked muffins—no rips, no tears. I also like to sprinkle the muffins with coarse white sparkling sugar, for a glittery finish.

img_1822.JPG
Bake for about 30 minutes; the muffins will be a lovely golden brown on top.

img_1844.JPG
And there you have it: a classic favorite, blueberry muffins.

img_1894.JPG
Note the difference between muffins made with frozen berries that aren't rinsed and blotted first (left), and the rinsed berries (right). Neither way is more or less “correct;” it's just a “look” thing, and entirely up to you.

Check out our recipe for Freezer-Case Blueberry Muffins.

Filed Under: Recipes
PJ Hamel
The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!