Ann Hodgman’s “Beat This” cookbook is the exception. Ms. Hodgman is an award-winning writer, foodie and satirist who wrote “Beat This” in 1993. I inherited it from my mother, and the first time I read it, I was amazed. Here was a cookbook written especially for people like me: people with a love of food, cooking and giggling. Ms. Hodgman effortlessly combines satirical and humorous commentary with some of the best recipes I’ve ever tried. The title “Beat This” comes from Ms. Hodgman’s assertion that the recipes contained within this cookbook are, in fact, the best of the best. The best fried chicken (true), the best pecan pie (true), the best chili (true), the best lemon bars (hint: use limes), and the best blueberry muffins. Oh yes.
Ms. Hodgman attributes these fantastic recipes to their original creators when necessary, and Sugar Hill Blueberry Muffins come to us from the Sugar Hill Inn in Franconia, New Hampshire. You have never tasted blueberry muffins like these. I present the recipe for Sugar Hill Blueberry Muffins, from “Beat This” by Ann Hodgman. If you do not own this cookbook, go buy it. After you make these muffins.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries (if frozen do not defrost)
2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin-cup liners. This recipe does not work without them. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sour cream until thoroughly combined.
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt together the butter and the brown sugar. Beat this mixture into the egg mixture. Stir in the oats.
Fold in the flour mixture and then the blueberries. Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. Drop a generous pinch of sugar onto the top of each muffin.
Bake the muffins for 25-28 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, then remove muffins (in their papers) and finish cooling them on a rack.
Makes 1 dozen.
You can mix these entirely by hand, in fact, I suggest it. Folding is delicate work, and a light touch is better than the Kitchen Aid mixer of death. (I love my Kitchen Aid, but not for everything.) I’ve used both frozen and fresh blueberries, and either one works perfectly. Ms Hodgman suggests chopped peaches and toasted almonds as a “fortuitous” mix you can use instead of blueberries. I will be trying that when fresh peaches become available.
Other add ins that I have tried are:
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla
Zest of one lemon, minced fine
¼ tsp ginger
½ tsp candied ginger, minced fine
“Beat This” by Ann Hodgman is the perfect cookbook; laugh out loud funny and filled with delicious, wonderful and fantastic recipes. Do not chop or mince or julienne or actually have a knife in your hand when you read her introduction to Pure, Rich, Great Caramels. Hysterical laughter tends to impede one’s knife skills.