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Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Streusel the perfect treat for spring and summer celebrations

Columnist Sarah Nasello writes, "The sour cream is a key ingredient in this recipe, as it adds moisture to the batter without thinning it down like using just a liquid would."

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Sarah's Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Streusel are easy to make, delicious, and the perfect treat for spring and summer celebrations.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

FARGO — According to the calendar, spring has sprung and even if it has not yet reached our region, now is the time to prepare for its arrival. With Easter, Mother’s Day and graduation brunches just around the corner, these Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Streusel are easy to make, delicious, and the perfect treat for spring and summer celebrations.

This is a simple, old-fashioned recipe and one of my all-time baking favorites. I cannot believe I haven’t shared it with you before today — I suppose there are just too many favorites to choose from each week. In addition to the usual suspects found in most baked goods (flour, butter, sugar, salt, eggs, milk and vanilla), my recipe uses both brown and white sugars, as well as sour cream.

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Sarah's Blueberry Muffins get their ultra-moist and tender crumb from the addition of sour cream in the batter.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

The sour cream is a key ingredient in this recipe, as it adds moisture to the batter without thinning it down like using just a liquid would. This results in muffins that are ultra-moist with a wonderfully fine and tender crumb. The acid within the sour cream activates the leavening agents — baking powder and soda for this recipe — to create a superior texture, while the fat content adds richness and flavor. You can use plain yogurt in place of the sour cream, or even replace both the sour cream and milk with ¾ cup of buttermilk, but I am partial to sour cream.

These blueberry muffins are delicious all on their own, but they are extraordinary when topped with my Cinnamon Brown Sugar Streusel. This simple mixture of brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and melted butter gives each muffin a touch of crispy crunch to perfectly balance the delicate crumb. I use a standard 12-cup muffin tin and fill each cup all the way to the top with the muffin batter and then I cover the entire surface of each muffin with a generous sprinkling of streusel.

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Sarah fills each muffin cup to the top with batter so that an initial blast of high heat in the oven will help them rise to the occasion.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

The key to achieving that lovely domed top on muffins is to blast them with high heat when they first go into the oven, for five minutes only, then I reduce the oven to a moderate temperature for the remainder of the bake. This initial blast of heat sets the top of the muffin so that once the center starts to bake at a more moderate temperature, it will push those tops straight up.

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I use fresh blueberries most of the time for this recipe, but I have used frozen berries on occasion with good results. If you choose to use frozen, do not let them thaw before adding the berries to your batter, as they can produce too much liquid which will alter the texture of the muffins.

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A generous amount of blueberries are folded into the muffin batter to ensure that every bite is full of blueberry flavor.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Simple yet addictively delicious, these Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Streusel are the ultimate treat for spring and summer brunches — and luckily, they are just as satisfying the other nine months of the year. Happy spring, everyone.

Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Streusel

Makes: 12-14 regular muffins or 36-40 mini muffins

Cinnamon brown sugar streusel topping:
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Muffin ingredients:
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated white sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup sour cream of plain yogurt, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup whole milk, room temperature
1½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw if frozen)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease a 12-cup muffin tin with butter or cooking spray

In a medium bowl, use a whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

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Use a stand or hand mixer to beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add both sugars and beat on high for 3 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating hard on medium speed after each addition until well combined. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.

Turn the mixer off and add the flour mixture and whole milk. Mix on low speed until fully incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the blueberries and use a rubber spatula to gently fold them into the batter.

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Coating the entire surface of each muffin with Cinnamon Brown Streusel topping produces a crunchy crisp texture to balance the soft and tender crumb inside.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Scoop the batter into the muffin tin, filling each cup to the top. Cover the top of each muffin with a generous sprinkling of the streusel topping. If there is leftover batter, grease another tin and bake when the first batch is done (I usually have enough batter left for 1 large muffin or 4 mini muffins).

Bake at 425 for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and continue baking for an additional 16 to 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To store:
Store the muffins in an airtight container or plastic freezer bag at room temperature for 3 to 4 days, in the refrigerator for one week, or in the freezer for 3 months.

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Sarah bakes the muffins at 425 degrees for five minutes and then reduces the temperature to 350 to create the high, domed muffin tops.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum
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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.
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