Column: Dreams of Autumn Muffins


Photo credit: Anna Allgeyer

Blueberry muffins I made. Muffins and other baked goods are a great way to celebrate fall.

When August turns to September, am I the only one that envisions short autumn days dusted in amber leaves and coated in apple cider?  Pumpkin pies, sweater season and waking up early just to read for fun?  Muffins with tea and snuggling up with ugly plaid blankets to watch leaves fall through slightly frosted windows?

And then you snap back to reality and realize that you’re sitting at your bus stop at seven in the morning, and it’s already 80 degrees. Autumn in Los Angeles is nearly nonexistent; it seems like it’s August and then December in a flash.  Between the heat and adjusting to the new school year, I always feel like fall passes me by in a heartbeat.

While weather is non-negotiable, food is not.  Believe it or not, it’s already apple season here, with some apple farms as close as an hour drive from Los Angeles. Pies, tarts, galettes, ciders, muffins, pancakes and more await your tastebuds. While apples are available all year round, the freshest, most delicious ones are available in fall.  

But it’s not the apples that I love most about fall, it’s the carbs.  The pure bliss of sinking your teeth into a muffin or taking a bite out of your friend’s cake she made for advisory is more than enough to cause me to forget all about the drab Los Angeles fall.  

I spent a significant portion of my summer in the Northeast, a region of the country dotted with valleys, rivers, mountains, lakes and blueberries.  Blueberries gracing mountaintops where the temperature is just right to grow them along lush river beds and randomly in patches dotting the countryside. Blueberries were everywhere, and I’m determined to take advantage of the last of the summer blueberry crop.

So how do blueberries relate to the joy of carbs? Muffins. My mind has been hooked on muffins lately. Oatmeal muffins, cranberry muffins, the carrot raisin ones from Belwood — I’m obsessed.  And I think I’ve come up with the perfect blueberry muffin.

There are some fundamental qualities a muffin needs to have in order to meet my standards.  It must be fluffy and not at all dense, moist (Sidebar: why do people hate this word?) and have a crunchy, golden brown top.  There are a million techniques to achieve this, but the main idea is to not over mix, fill your muffin cups all the way to the top, and give them some love.  Here’s my recipe for some pretty amazing blueberry muffins.  It’s a one-bowl recipe for easy cleanup and more time to daydream about a real fall.

Anna’s Blueberry Blueberry Muffins

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen:


  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • zest from one lemon
  • 3/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and line a muffin tray with silicone or paper liners or grease each cup.  Melt butter, and combine all wet ingredients with a whisk.  Whisk in the baking powder and soda, as well as the salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Lightly fold in the flour and blueberries so as to prevent excessive gluten formation. Bake for 20-25 minutes to achieve a golden brown top.  You could be civilized and let them cool on a baking rack for 20 minutes before eating, or split them in half and dot with salted butter straight out of the oven (I usually opt for the latter).