Department Store Blueberry Muffins: A Classic Summer Recipe

Blueberry muffins are one of summer’s greatest pleasures. Warm from the oven, they’re a contender for the finest berry baked good, in my opinion. Blueberry pie is up there, along with strawberry shortcake, but for sheer simplicity (and ease and time!), blueberry muffins beat them out handily.

With just a few pantry staples and a pint of fresh berries, you can make the most delicious blueberry muffins you’ll ever taste. I consider myself an equal-opportunity lover of blueberry muffins, and I wouldn’t turn down any batch of them.

But I admit that today’s recipe for Department Store Blueberry Muffins is spectacular. These muffins stand out from any other recipe I’ve ever tried.

Blueberry muffins via @kingarthurflour

They have a tender, delicate crumb with just the right amount of moistness. Each bite bursts with juicy berries. After a quick bake, they emerge from the oven, golden and slightly domed, with a crackly sugared crust.

And they aren’t just delicious, they have a wonderful history! These muffins were offered in the bakery (and served in the top-floor tea room) of Jordan Marsh, an iconic department store in Boston. Jordan Marsh closed in the mid-1990s, when it was taken over by Macy’s, but happily its famous muffins live on through this recipe.

The best thing to come from a department store? This classic blueberry muffin recipe! Click To Tweet

For decades, hungry shoppers would feast on these muffins as a sweet pick-me-up after perusing shirts in the sportswear section and comparing china patterns in the home goods department. Customers remember them happily: their sugary crown, their golden interior overstuffed with berries.

Blueberry muffins via @kingarthurflour

What makes these blueberry muffins different?

I’m guessing many of you already have a go-to recipe for blueberry muffins. The Department Store Blueberry Muffin recipe won’t look wildly different from most, but it has just the perfect balance of ingredients. It’s buttery, but not too rich. It’s moist, but not too dense. It’s delicate, but not dry.

The recipe is calibrated for maximum deliciousness. You can tell that it’s been put through its paces; such a popular item in such a busy store is guaranteed to have been rigorously tested until it reaches its best possible form.

What really sets this recipe apart is the sugar topping. The first time I baked these muffins, I thought to myself that the amount of sugar called for in the topping (one full teaspoon per muffin) must be a mistake.

It seems like way, way too much when you’re sprinkling it onto the batter, but don’t be shy! It’s crucial to use the full amount in order to achieve those gorgeous, craggy caps of sugar. (Are there any nicer words in the English language than “craggy caps of sugar”?)

Blueberry muffins via @kingarthurflour

The recipe

Here’s how to make them. You’ll need:

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
1 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for topping
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups blueberries

Ready for how quick and easy these are to make? Brace yourself!

Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

Beat together the butter and sugar until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl and beating well after each.

Add the baking powder, salt, and vanilla.

Add the flour alternately with the milk, beating gently just to combine. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Add the berries to the batter, stirring until just combined. Be careful not to overmix or the muffins will be dense.

Scoop the batter by the heaping 1/4-cupful into a greased (or paper-lined) 12-cup muffin pan. We like to use our muffin scoop!

Now for the good part! Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon granulated sugar over each muffin. I know. It feels like the definition of excess but trust us!

Bake the muffins for about 25 to 30 minutes. 

Blueberry muffins via @kingarthurflour

Keep in mind: You can certainly make these blueberry muffins all year with frozen blueberries, but if fresh blueberries are available to you, use them.

Warm from the oven, these muffins are summer in a bite. Better than a brilliantly sunny day on a Cape Cod beach. Better than sun-kissed skin, and the first lick of a drippy ice cream cone, and better even than a buttery lobster roll on the ocean in Maine.

Bake the Department Store Blueberry Muffins yourself, and tell us in the comments below how they measure up to other recipes for blueberry muffins!

About

Posie grew up on a farm in Maryland and spent her summers in Vermont. As an editor for King Arthur and Sift magazine, she feels lucky to bake every day and connect through writing. She loves homemade bread warm from the oven, raw milk cream, ...

comments

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Nichelle! Feel free to increase the sugar if you’d like these to be sweeter. An additional 1/4 cup should do the trick. If you’d like to sweeten them and add a little depth of flavor, 1/4 cup of light or dark brown sugar would be lovely. Annabelle@KAF

  1. Samuel Gaxiola

    If using frozen berries, do I have to thaw the berries and then add them to the batter or just add the berries direct from the frezzer?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      No need to let the berries thaw before using, Samuel. Simply rinse the frozen berries under cool water until the water coming from the berries runs clear. (Otherwise, the muffin batter tends to get stained purple/blue.) No other adjustments are necessary. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  2. CrouseHouse

    I absolutely love this recipe! The only problem I have is most of my blueberries sink to the bottom. How do I fix that?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Some bakers swear by dusting their berries in flour to prevent them from sinking. We haven’t found that doing so makes a noticeable difference, but it’s worth a shot! You could also scoop plain batter into your muffin cups and then spoon the berries on top so they can slowly sink into the batter. Giving them a little nudge with a spoon so they don’t all sit on top will help prevent them from burning. Annabelle@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel

      Rachel, it won’t make any difference in the final muffin, but room-temperature butter is easier to work with. Good question, thanks — I’ve added that information to the recipe. PJH

  3. Letitia Rutherford

    Thanks, I remember these wonderful and delicious muffins. I’m crying at this moment, but its tears of happy memories flowing into my head. I plan to make them for my brother who is sixth now.
    Hanes was the store in Newark.

    Reply
  4. Jeani

    Would this work with canola oil instead of butter? I can’t eat dairy, and prefer canola to the vegan “butter” sticks out there (that are just a blend of oils, anyway).

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Jeani, as a general rule, it’s best to sub a solid fat for a solid fat or a liquid fat for a liquid fat. As we explain in another blog article (Creaming butter and sugar), “in creaming the butter and sugar together [as this recipe calls for], you are using the sugar to aerate the butter and fill it with bubbles that can capture the gasses released by your leavener. The more fine bubbles you have in your network, the lighter in texture your [muffin] will be and the finer the crumb.” Vegan Buttery Sticks are able to achieve that same effect, but liquid oils aren’t, so we’d hesitate about making that substitution. If you’re committed to oil, you might do better to use a recipe like this one that calls for liquid fat. Hope this helps and happy baking! Mollie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Michelle, sweetened condensed milk is quite different than liquid milk, so we wouldn’t recommend it. If you don’t have or don’t want to use regular milk, a non-dairy milk or even water would be a better choice here. Hope this helps! Mollie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Debbie, you’re welcome to experiment with using Splenda in the muffin batter if this is an ingredient that you generally know and like. Be sure to follow the ratios for substitution that are provided on the back of the package. A raw or sparkling sugar on top is especially nice, although you can also omit this step if it makes more sense for your needs. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  5. christi in ma

    I have a version of this recipe handed down from a friend’s great aunt who claimed “this is the real recipe.” It used melted Imperial margarine mixed with the sugar for exactly 3 minutes. (this recipe was very specific – only Imperial and you must stir by hand!)
    I used to keep a box of Imperial in the fridge just for Saturday morning muffin making.
    Now I do the butter and sugar method in the KitchenAid.

    Reply
  6. kathleen

    I have made these since 1974..this same recipe. My sister worked at Jordan Marsh. these are the best.. I frequently put this recipe in a loaf pan (needs to bake for about an hour) or cake pan or in a cake pan.
    They never last long in my house.

    Reply

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