Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A blast from the past: Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

Before we get to the good stuff, a brief history lesson.

Jordan Marsh was a Boston-based department store founded in 1841 by Eben Jordan and Benjamin L. Marsh. With the rise of retail conglomerates, Jordan Marsh became part of Allied Stores (1931) and then Federated Department Stores (1988), a move that renamed all stores, including the flagship store in Boston's Downtown Crossing shopping district (pictured at left), Macy's.

The Jordan Marsh flagship store was home to the legendary Enchanted Village, an elaborate holiday display which, at times, spanned entire floor of the store in addition to its windows.

Perhaps even more legendary was Jordan Marsh's bakeries. Infamous, however, were the blueberry muffins.

A December 2004 Boston Globe article put it best: "For decades, any decent downtown shopping trip ended at Jordan Marsh, where the promise of a sugar-crusted blueberry muffin could make annoying children angelic."

Manning the ovens was John Pupek, who made the muffins by hand, one batch at a time. In the 1990's, when Jordan Marsh was no more, Pupek opened the Jordan Marsh Muffin Company in Brockton to fulfill the cravings of blueberry-muffin hungry Bostonians. He did so until closing up shop on Christmas Eve 2004.

Pupek may not be baking Jordan Marsh blueberry muffins any longer, but the recipe lives on.

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins


1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and cups sugar until light and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk. Crush 1/2 cup blueberries with a fork, and mix into the batter. Gently fold in the remaining whole berries.

Grease 12 large muffin cups, including the surface of the tin (alternative: grease surface of tin and line tin with paper liners). Fill generously with batter. Sprinkle sugar over the tops of the muffins, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool 30 minutes before removing. Store, uncovered, because the muffins are so moist.

Yield: 12 muffins.



Recipe Notes:

I've seen versions of this recipe that call for different baking methods: 375 for 30 minutes, 450 for 5 minutes and then an additional 30 to 35 minutes at 375, etc. These variations have yet to be tested in my kitchen (give me time, I've got plenty of blueberries left).

Depending on how sweet your blueberries are, you may want to reduce the amount of sugar in the batter to one cup. When it comes to sprinkling sugar on top of the muffins, be creative! I used vanilla sugar and raw sugar on mine, but good old granulated sugar works just fine.

If your berries are particularly large, consider mashing up more than 1/2 cup. I'll likely do this the next time, since the whole berries can take over the batter and cause the muffins to fall after baking.

I came across a recipe that includes 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla, something that deviates from the original. Go for it, if it strikes your fancy. I prefer sans-vanilla.

For extra large muffins, chill the batter in the fridge for about 15 minutes before scooping into large muffin tins.

Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.

22 comments:

  1. Jordan Marsh--what a throwback! Ditto blueberry muffins, which always take me back to childhood. Can't wait to make these with the spoils from my blueberry picking adventure. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Thank you for the recipe and the reminder of what Downtown Crossing used to be!

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  3. I made the muffins from your recipe:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevegarfield/2658606811/

    Mashing the blueberries was key!

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  4. Thanks again for posting this. I'm going to make some today for my wife's birthday! She has fond memories of these, as many others do.

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  5. I use to work at Jordan Marsh back in the 60's and many of the co-workers would have the blueberry muffins for our break. On snowy Boston days when the store closed early, we couldn't wait until they announced a "half-price bake sale;" many would abandon our post just to line up for the muffins. They were terrific! Thanks for sharing.

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  6. My aunt recommended this recipe to me, and I think it's fabulous. I'm not much of a baker (too precise for me), but these muffins were easy to make, and came out delicious. I was pretty young when Jordan Marsh closed, but I have some fond memories of shopping trips with my grandmother that always ended up with a blueberry muffin to keep me quiet. Ahhh nostalgia.

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  7. These were the best blueberry muffins I have ever made! Thank you for the recipe!

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  8. Dear Diva,
    Thank you for the Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffin recipe...I am a writer and presently putting Jordan Marsh and downtown Boston Christmas, 1954 on the pages of my novel. Fiction based on fact - sweet memories of that fabulous store, Santa in Toy Land on the 6th floor, the whimsically decorated store windows, etc. and the delicious waft of Boston's favorite snack...those muffins!
    Blessings to all from Southern California,
    Dolley Carlson

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  9. I miss those stores so much. Downtown Crossing doesn't seem the same.

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  10. Yum! Can't wait to try this recipe! I grew up in the Metrowest area, so we always went to the Jordan Marsh at Shopper's World...those blueberry muffins were the best!

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  11. Thanks - found your recipe through a friend posting on facebook pleading for blueberry muffin recipes - wanted to know the story - can't wait!

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  12. Hi there,
    Just wondering what you mean when you say "store uncovered". Just leave them outside with nothing on them?! Thanks! =)
    m

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  13. I too have fond memories of Jordan Marsh and blueberry muffins. Going to Boston on the train for new school clothes once a year and the Christmas displays are all great memories. So sad that Jordan's closed.
    Jane/Texas

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  14. Hi Diva,
    I tried to post this a few months back, and now that I'm making them again I wish the post went through! How do you store these??
    Thanks!

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  15. Re: Storing -- In my experience, if you store these muffins in an airtight container, they can get a little soggy because they usually end up so moist to begin with. Because of this, I store them in a container with the lid ajar. Hope this helps!

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  16. The Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins are available at Jordan's Furniture in Avon MA. They purchased the Enchanted Village and set it up as a permanent display in the store along with the muffins. They're not exactly the same as those in my youth but very close and the taste is great!

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  17. satur9boi@yahoo.comApril 16, 2010 at 8:10 AM

    I remenber these from the Johnson/Nixon years... Before the LaFayette Cheeseblock was built, when the "Jordan's Annex" was in that location - across a street [since removed], with a 3rd/4th floor runway/crossover between the two buildings; the "Annex" building was covered in exquisite black, Victorian, wrought-iron ornamental work. - These muffins rarely came home, and were always a REAL treat. Thank you, Dining Diva!!

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  18. This Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins looks so good. The flavor of it is mouthwatering. I wish I can try it. I know that it will taste so good.

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  19. I GREW UP IN BOSTON AND JORDANS BLUEBERRY MUFFINS WAS A EXTRA TREAT FOR ME AND MY MOM. THEY ALSO MADE CHOC0LET CHIP COOKIES THAT WERE TO DIE FOR. DOES ANYONE HAVE JORDANS RECIPE FOR THOSE. THANK YOU JORDAN MARSH FOR MAKING SO MANY MEMMORIES OF THIS GENERATION. MISS YOUR STORE VERY MUCH. JORDAN MARSH WAS BOSTON. IT HAS NEVER BEEN THE SAME, ALMOST NO ONE GOES TO DOWNTOWN CROSSING AT LEAST NOT LIKE THE OLD DAYS.

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  20. Is this the real recipe that John Pupek used?

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  21. Haven't thought of JM Blueberry Muffins in ages. Just bought some fresh blueberries and wanted to do something with them besides putting them on cereal. :o) Have the recipe somewhere but can't seem to find it and was blessed to find yours. Will be making them very soon. Thanx for the recipe and the trip down memory lane. Just an Old Yankee from MA

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  22. This recipe is prob the worst I ve ever tried the batter spilled over and the tops overcooked after 15 mins into baking. Followed the recipe to the T Ive never had such a bad result.

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Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.