Paul Hollywood's Advice For Baking The Best Blueberry Muffins

Few things are as symbolic of home-baked goodness as a classic, fresh blueberry muffin straight from the oven. But despite the seeming simplicity of this confection, it can be tough to get just right when you make them at home. Fortunately, professionals like Paul Hollywood — the celebrity chef, best-selling cookbook author, and host of "The Great British Bake Off" (who also can't resist McDonald's) — have some tips to ensure your blueberry breakfast treat is the best it can be.

A main piece of advice from Hollywood for your muffins? Be gentle. When incorporating your fruit into the batter, an aggressive stir can really destroy delicate berries. Hollywood told Rolling Stone that "a nice, slow mix will keep the blueberry whole." Considering he has also served these muffins to the likes of stars like Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise — by request — the man may have some street cred when it comes to making a killer morning pastry.

More tips from Paul Hollywood's kitchen

Bursting your blues is a bummer for many reasons. For one thing, you deny yourself and your guests the pleasure of biting into a whole berry and letting it pop in your mouth. But on the more logistical side, it means streaky batter, and blueberries that bleed juices. This adds liquid to your mixture, and the juice can wind up bubbling or burning — and when a ruptured berry is at the bottom, that sticky juice can cement your treats into the tin.

Paul Hollywood's suggestion to stir slowly and cautiously is intended to prevent these possible pitfalls. The thickness of your batter will make a difference in how your berries are incorporated. A thick batter will mean more resistance and as such, more of a chance your berries could break when stirring, as opposed to a thinner batter into which they will more easily mix. 

The tricky part with the latter scenario is an increased possibility that they'll sink to the bottom of your muffin. It's important that your batter be the right consistency — not too thick or too loose (think somewhere between pancake and cookie dough) — which will allow you to mix without breaking and reduce the risk of sinkage. You can do this with a rubber spatula, or follow another Hollywood method.

More Paul Hollywood-worthy muffin tips

In a YouTube demonstration video, Paul Hollywood shared additional tips for his star-satisfying muffins. He mixes batter by hand (and suggests that kids will enjoy the process, too). This allows him to get a sense of the texture, aiming for a soft and pliable mixture substantial enough to prevent blueberries from sinking (another common muffin-making mistake). He adds a little milk if it feels too dry.

To include the blueberries, another technique Hollywood encourages is to add them to each individual muffin after spooning the batter into the cavities. Using this method, he can be extremely cautious not to burst the berries, and guarantee even distribution by pushing each one into the batter by hand. By following his lead here, you can even count out how many berries you want per muffin to ensure no single treat is short-changed.

If you're still concerned about busting your berries, or you're just not into their particular flavor — there are lots of other fruits that can stand up to a more vigorous stirring, like apples, pears, or cranberries. Hollywood also suggests citrus, like oranges. Once baked, Hollywood says you'll be looking for a golden brown top, which will be crisp and fragrant with butter and fruit. Another Hollywood hack is a boon to busy home bakers: You can make the batter the night before and pop it in the fridge so come morning, you'll have fresh, whole blueberry muffins to look forward to.