The top of a muffin is often the best part of the muffin. Don’t get me wrong – I love whole muffins! – but after re-watching the classic Seinfelt episode about muffin tops, I got inspired to bake some up myself. Muffin tops are usually attached to a muffin base and baked in a traditional muffin pan. If you don’t want to “waste” the muffin bases to get the tops, you can use a muffin top pan that has very shallow cavities. You can also simply use this recipe to bake your muffin tops on a regular baking sheet, as this recipe requires no special pans and has no (potentially wasted) muffin “stumps.”
These Blueberry Muffin Tops are not made with a traditional muffin method of mixing the batter. Instead, cold butter is cut in to a mixture of flour, sugar and leaveners. Cutting the butter in to the dry ingredients creates a muffin top that is more tender and forms a much nicer, crisper “crust” when it bakes, producing the ideal muffin top without the whole muffin. Though the method is similar to that of making scones, you don’t want your muffin tops to be flaky, so cut the butter in until it is very well-incorporated and no large pieces of butter remain visible. If you have a food processor, you can use it to make this whole recipe and save yourself a little bit of time.
The other ingredients to the butter-flour and everything is mixed up until the dough comes together. Fold in the blueberries last and do it carefully, whether you use fresh or frozen. The dough will be thick and sticky, thicker than most muffin batters, and you can simply dollop it onto your baking sheet in approximately 1/4-cup portions. Allow plenty of room for the muffin tops to spread so that your tops will be as round as possible. If desired, sprinkle some coarse sugar on top before baking.
The finished muffin tops will be golden brown and have a slight crispness to the edges that contrasts perfectly with the interior. They will spread a fair amount so the tops will be generously sized (feel free to make them smaller or larger, if desired) and have an attractive domed shape. Like regular muffins, they’re not overly sweet and the blueberries will really pop out in every bite. They’re perfect if you’re a muffin top fan in the first place and are a wonderful change of pace from traditional muffins for breakfast or brunch.
Blueberry Muffin Tops
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
coarse sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Rub in butter with your fingertips or a pastry cutter (or pulse in the food processor), until the butter is very well-incorporated and no large pieces remain visible. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla extract until a sticky dough starts to form, them fold in blueberries. Mix only until no streaks of dry ingredients are visible.
Drop dough in generous 1/4 cup portions onto the prepared baking sheet, allowing at least 3-4 inches between muffin tops. Sprinkle generously with coarse sugar.
Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until muffin tops are a deep golden brown and are set in the center.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool and serve slightly warm.