If you were fortunate enough to shop at a Jordan Marsh department store, you may have enjoyed one of their infamous and huge blueberry muffins. Growing up in south Florida, we had a number of stores in Miami and when I was younger, I would go to Jordan Marsh every spring and buy a hat for Easter to wear to church. Back then everyone regularly dressed up for church and holidays were extra special. Shopping at Jordan Marsh was a treat and every shopping experience ended with a blueberry muffin or a lemon cupcake. JM blueberry muffins were simply amazing! They were light, sweet, filled with blueberries, moist and had the most amazing sugary, crunchy topping! I get nostalgic just thinking about them and memories of shopping with mom.
There are a few “Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffin” recipes on the internet, but they are not quite right and they lack the baking techniques used to make these amazing muffins. Luckily, John Pupek (legendary Boston baker who baked these muffins at JM’s flagship store for 45 years) was interviewed by a local network and he shared his secret techniques for perfect blueberry muffins. Here’s his interview with Maria Stephanos of WCVB. Listen closely because the oral recipe doesn’t match the written recipe in the article. John mentions creaming sugar and shortening until light and fluffy (no mention of butter) and a blend of bread and pastry flour; however, the ratio is not revealed. Just like recipes on the internet, the article states butter and all-purpose flour. If you don’t have shortening or these two flours, go with full butter and AP flour. John’s techniques will still help you produce a great muffin!
HOW I MADE THEM
I like a buttery muffin so I creamed butter with shortening and used a blend of substitute flours. I also increased the vanilla extract and added lemon zest. You know I love that bright citrus flavor, I couldn’t help myself! If you want to stray true to John’s recipe – follow his techniques and go all shortening, bread and pastry flour, and omit the lemon zest.
Preheat the oven to 375°F, place the oven rack in the center position and grease the baking pan all over the top and bottom. I used a muffin paper liner and greased everything. Should the muffins spill out onto the top, you want them to release and not stick to the top.
In a stand-alone mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream 4 Tablespoons each of unsalted butter and shortening for a minute. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add 1 cup of granulated sugar, then beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes. Add two fortified eggs, one at a time, and beat until each egg is well incorporated – remember to scrape down the sides. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla paste or extract and beat for a few extra minutes until light and fluffy, pictured below.
John’s tip: You want to whip air into the creamed mixture. He said weather can affect the creaming process so there’s no set time. After 45 years he just knew when it looked right. I creamed mine until the mixture was light in color and very fluffy.
What is a fortified egg? It is an egg rich in omega-3-fatty acids. If the chickens eat a healthier diet, rich in omega-3 foods such as flaxseed, they produce a better egg. I always buy extra large eggs, Eggland’s Best brand.
Spoon and level the flour, then sift with the other dry ingredients. I used a flour blend of 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour (substitute for bread flour) and 3/4 cup cake flour (substitute for pastry flour). Add 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and sift all the dry ingredients into the bowl. Once sifted, whisk to evenly distribute the ingredients and set aside.
How to spoon & level flour? With a regular spoon transfer small amounts of flour into the measuring cup. With the back of a knife, scrape off any excess flour from the top.
Begin to add the dry and wet ingredients to the creamed mixture by alternating between flour and milk, starting and ending with flour and scraping down the sides as you go. Beat on low setting so you don’t create a flour cloud and don’t over mix. After you add the last of the flour, beat just until mostly combined. Remove the mixing bowl from the stand-alone mixer and scrape off any batter from the paddle attachment. You will be folding in the blueberries.
Mash up 1/2 cup of blueberries with a fork and add 1 Tablespoon of lemon zest. The mashed blueberries add moisture to the batter and the unique color veining throughout the batter. In a separate bowl, coat 2 cups of whole blueberries with 2 Tablespoons of flour (doesn’t matter which flour you use). Gently move them around so they get coated without crushing or releasing juice. The flour will help suspend the blueberries while baking and not sink to the bottom.
Fold in the mashed lemon-blueberries with a spatula then add the remaining flour-coated blueberries and fold to combine. Use a 2 1/2 inch ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measure to generously fill each muffin cup. I grabbed a generous, heaping scoop of batter and didn’t level it off. I was able to get 10 good muffins and 1 runt (that was for the chef to taste test).
Top with a generous amount of granulated sugar. John grabs a fistful of sugar and slowly releases the sugar until the muffins are covered. He eyeballs it and never measures. After 45 years, he just knows. I used a heaping teaspoon per muffin just to estimate the amount. You could also use coarse sugar, but I wanted to stay true to the JM muffin.
Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Your kitchen should also be filled with the most wonderful aroma. The results are these glorious blueberry muffins that are so moist and light, they are packed with blueberries and crowned with the best crunchy and sugary topping. Perfect for breakfast, brunch, potlucks and an any time of day snack! Of the 10 full size muffins I baked last night, only 4 survived the night. They were quickly swept up this morning as everyone grabbed one on their way out. I hope your family enjoys them!
FREEZER OPTIONS: If you wish to freeze them, you have two options:
Unbaked — place a paper liner in the baking tin and scoop each muffin in place. Flash freeze for an hour, then transfer to a freezer safe bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator in the baking muffin pan and then bake as needed.
Pre-baked — cool to room temperature and flash freeze on a baking sheet so they don’t stick together once transferred to a freezer safe bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and pop back in the oven at 325°F to warm through.
This is a great basic muffin recipe and you can add other fruits and even a crumble topping. Adapted from John Pupek’s Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffin online recipe. His recipe is listed in my recipe notes.
Jordan Marsh’s Legendary Blueberry Muffins
The most amazing and delicious blueberry muffins! The blueberry muffin from Jordan Marsh department store is legendary. Light, moist, packed with fresh blueberries and topped with a glorious sugary, crunchy topping.
- 4 Tablespoons shortening, room temperature
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature prefer Plugra or Kerrygold brand
- 1 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for topping
- 2 extra large fortified eggs prefer Eggland's Best
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla paste or extract
- 1¼ cup bread flour, spoon and leveled substitute with all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup pastry flour, spoon and leveled substitute with cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt prefer Diamond brand
- ½ cup whole milk
- 2 ½ cups fresh blueberries, divided
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 Tablespoons flour, used to coat 2 cups of blueberries (can be any flour)
Preheat oven to 375°F, position oven rack in the center and generously grease a muffin pan, including the top of the pan. Muffin paper liner optional. Set aside.
In a stand-alone mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter and 4 Tablespoons shortening. With the mixer on low, gradually add 1 cup granulated sugar. Scrape the sides down then beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes.
Gradually add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until blended. Add the vanilla paste or extract. Beat for a few minutes on medium until light and fluffy.
Spoon and level 1¼ cups of bread flour (substitute all-purpose flour) and ¾ cup cake flour (substitute pastry flour), 2 teaspoons baking power and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Sift together over a mixing bowl and whisk to combine all the ingredients.
Add the dry and wet ingredients to the creamed mixture alternating between flour and milk, starting and ending with flour and scraping down the sides as you go. Beat on low just to combined. Don't over mix.
Remove the mixing bowl from the stand-alone mixer and scrape off any batter from the paddle attachment.
In a small bowl, mash ½ cup of blueberries and combine with 1 Tablespoon of lemon zest. Fold into the batter with a spatula. In a separate bowl, coat and toss whole blueberries with 2 Tablespoons of flour and fold into the batter.
Using a 2½ inch ice cream scoop, generously fill each muffin cup to the top. Sprinkle a generous amount of granulated sugar over each muffin.
Note: I used 1 teaspoon of sugar as a measuring unit, but in the original recipe, enough sugar was spread over the top to completely cover.
Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes. Insert a toothpick to test for doneness. If it comes out clean, remove the muffins from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.
Jordan Marsh’s Blueberry Muffins, compliments of John Pupek, legendary JM baker for 45 year
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 fortified eggs
- 2 cups flour – blend of bread and pastry flour, ratio unknown (measured, then sifted)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder (measured, then sifted with flour)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (measured, then sifted with flour)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
- granulated sugar for topping
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease pan. On low speed, cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix until blended. Add vanilla and cream until light and fluffy. Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture, alternating with milk. Mash 1/2 cup of berries and stir into batter by hand. Coat the remaining blueberries with extra flour and fold into the batter. Grease muffin tins well, including the tops. Pile blueberry mixture high into each muffin cup and sprinkle generously with granulated sugar. Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes.
FREEZER OPTIONS: If you wish to freeze them, you have two options:
Unbaked — Scoop muffin batter onto a paper liner in the baking tin. Flash freeze for an hour, then transfer to a freezer safe bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator in the baking muffin pan and then bake as needed.
Pre-baked — Cool baked muffins to room temperature and flash freeze on a baking sheet for an hour, then transfer to a freezer safe bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and pop back in the oven at 325°F to warm through.