Cowboy Crumb Muffins

Allspice Crumb Muffins

I thankfully don’t recall too many of my elementary school lunches. They were frequently a traumatic experience for picky eaters like myself, whether I purchased a hot lunch in the cafeteria or brought one from home (my mom pretty well gave up at some point and started sending me with just a baggie of carrot sticks because I’d bring everything else back untouched). I do remember liking the school’s tacos for some reason, but more than that, the cowboy coffee cake that came with it as a sort of dessert. It was a simple, fluffy beige cake with a crumb topping, cut in squares and smelling sweetly of cinnamon and spices. The fact that it was more like breakfast food than lunch food didn’t hurt.

When I picked out the allspice crumb muffins from Dorie for this weekend’s breakfast bread, I had no idea that they would conjure up such a strong memory of that cowboy coffee cake. Fluffy and brown with a sturdy streuseled cap, they were lightly perfumed with pure allspice, one of my favorite baking spices. They lasted us for two breakfasts, and I’m already contemplating making a second batch.

Allspice Crumb Muffins

I made some minor tweaks to the recipe on the pretense of health, and they are reflected below. You can probably guess the first one without looking: 50% white whole wheat flour. I reduced the butter in the streusel by 1 tablespoon, and used that Smart Balance Butter Blend in the muffin batter; I also used 1% milk with about a tablespoon of heavy cream in place of whole milk, and 1 extra-large egg plus an egg white instead of two eggs, since I’m once again trying to use up a surplus of whites. (The reason for that surplus to be raved over in tomorrow’s post…). I was a little concerned as I filled the muffin pan that my adjustments would compromise the texture of the muffins, but they were light and fluffy and, well, pretty perfect as far as I’m concerned. Maybe I should make some tacos…

Allspice Crumb Muffins

1/2 C AP flour
1/2 C (packed) brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground allspice
4 T cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

1 C all purpose flour
1 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 C sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C (packed) brown sugar
1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 extra-large egg plus 1 extra-large white
3/4 cup 1% milk
1 T heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375F. Butter or paper the 12 molds in a regular sized muffin tin or use your handy-dandy silicone model.

To make the streusel: Put the flour, brown sugar, and allspice in a small bowl and sift them through your fingers to blend. Add the bits of cold butter into the dry ingredients and toss to coat, then use your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until you’ve got irregularly shaped crumbs. Another option would be to use a small food processor or pastry cutter for this. Set aside in the refrigerator. (You can make the crumbs up to 3 days ahead and keep them covered in the fridge; the recipe makes enough for at least two batches of muffins.)

To make the muffins: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice and salt. Stir in the brown sugar, making certain there are no lumps; pushing it through a mesh strainer worked for me. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the melted butter, eggs, milk and vanilla together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with a rubber spatula, quickly but gently stir to blend. The batter will and should be lumpy; the important thing is not to overblend. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, at least 2/3d full. Sprinkle a spoonful or two of streusel over each muffin, then use your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter. (I completely covered my muffin batter with a layer of streusel, and still had a ton leftover.)

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold. The recipe has a yield of 12; I overfilled my pan a bit because it produces smallish muffins, and had enough batter for about 10-11 muffins.

Source: Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

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