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coffee cake muffins

December 2, 2010


I’m pretty sure it’s a universally-accepted fact that coffee cake is the best thing ever. When I realized that my past muffin recipes have been severely lacking in the crumb-topping-area, I decided that my next breakfast attempt would have to center solely around streusel. Minus the nuts, because I have the palate of a six-year-old.

All in all, I’d say this recipe was a winner. It was definitely a method I hadn’t tried yet, and making them was a pretty intriguing experience. (Didn’t think cooking could be intriguing, did you? Well THINK AGAIN!) The batter-dough ended up being basically a bunch of really dry crumbs, and I was waaay skeptical when I spooned/sprinkled it into the muffin tin that it would ever cohere into muffins.

But once again, Cook’s Illustrated bested me in the I-told-you-so department. (Man, I am way into hyphenation today.) The muffins (and yes, they did turn into muffins) were fluffy and tender and light, probably because there was so little liquid to weigh them down, but they also weren’t at all dry. In fact, they were so fluffy that I had a lot of trouble cutting them in half straight out of the freezer without smooshing them and turning them into little muffin-pellets. The topping was suitably crunchy, and they were nicely cinnamony and coffee cake-esque. They weren’t exactly the prettiest thing in the world (for some reason, mine most definitely did not have the domed top promised by Cook’s Illustrated’s illustration), but let’s face it, I’m barely conscious at the moment I eat my breakfast, so all that really matters to me is taste.

Coffee Cake Muffins
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.
2. Process flour, granulated sugar, and salt in food processor until combined, about five 1-second pulses. Sprinkle butter evenly over flour mixture and process until butter is oat-sized, about eight 1-second pulses. Remove 1 cup of butter-flour mixture and stir with fork into brown sugar and cinnamon until combined to make streusel. Set aside 3/4 cup of streusel for muffin batter and remaining portion for topping muffins.
3. Add baking powder and baking soda to remaining flour mixture in food processor bowl and process until combined, about five 1-second pulses. Whisk together sour cream, egg, and vanilla; add to flour mixture. Process until batter is just moistened, about five 1-second pulses. Add 3/4 cup reserved streusel to flour mixture and process until streusel is just distributed throughout batter, about five 1-second pulses.
4. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups and sprinkle with streusel, pressing lightly so that streusel sinks slightly into batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out with several crumbs clinging to it, about 18 minutes, rotating pan from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffin tin on wire rack for 2 minutes. Using tip of paring knife, loosen muffins and gently transfer from tin to wire rack; cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated

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