Coffee Cake Muffins

coffee cake muffinAs I’ve mentioned before, any time cake is considered a breakfast food, I’m on board. These coffee cake muffins are a great alternative to the full cake version, especially if you’re baking for a smaller crowd. Today, my small office team welcomed a new colleague, and I wasn’t in need of a whole coffee cake–so this 12-muffin recipe worked out very well. (That’s my desk in the photo to the left, and yes, my mouse pad looks a bit like the Wonder Bread logo.)

I adapted this recipe slightly from a recipe in my trusty Better Homes & Gardens 25th Anniversary Cookbook and have just a few suggestions for further adaptations in the future. Next time I’d like to use pecans instead of walnuts, and I’ll probably use vanilla extract in the drizzle instead of water. The drizzle wasn’t part of the original recipe, but I think it adds a nice hint of sweetness to these otherwise spicy muffins.

Ingredients

For the streusel filling and topping:

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts

For the muffins:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk*

For the drizzle:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • About 1 teaspoon water

*If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make sour milk by placing 1/2 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into a glass measuring cup, then pouring in enough milk to make a full 1/2 cup. Let stand for 5 minutes before using. 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Make the streusel: in a small bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add butter and rub in until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in chopped walnuts; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Add butter and rub in until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Combine beaten egg and buttermilk or sour milk, then add all at once to the crumb mixture, stirring until just combined. Batter will be lumpy.

Using a one-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of batter into prepared muffin tin, filling about 1/3 full. Top with half the streusel mixture, then layer the remaining batter and the remaining streusel mixture.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before drizzling.

Make the drizzle: in a small bowl combine powdered sugar and about 1/2 teaspoon water. Stir, adding more water as necessary to reach a drizzle consistency. Place drizzle into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip and pipe in whatever pattern you like. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

pumpkin choc chip muffinsLast weekend, our friends Kash and Mandy got married. They’re an interfaith couple like we are, being Muslim and Christian respectively. Mike, my Jewish husband, was their celebrant; it was a lovely wedding, one of the most fun I’ve ever attended. At the reception, there was a traditional Pittsburgh cookie table, and I was happy to be able to bake some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to contribute to it.

I had a cup of pumpkin puree left over, which I’ve been keeping in the fridge and wondering how to use. This recipe was a great solution, requiring exactly one cup of pumpkin. I did adapt it slightly, because it originally called for pumpkin pie spice and I don’t keep that on hand. Fortunately, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg can be mixed together to create pumpkin pie spice, and you can adapt the ratios depending on your preference. I chose to do equal half-teaspoons of each spice, with a extra dash of cinnamon.

An interesting aspect of this recipe is its use of melted butter, rather than oil, as the fat. Most muffins require vegetable oil or applesauce, rather than butter, which I always think of as more of a cupcake ingredient. Regardless, the end result is a moist, fluffy muffin that has a nice spicy flavor and just the right amount of sweetness from the chocolate chips. I used semi-sweet, but bittersweet would be a good choice as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus an extra dash if you like
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12- cup cupcake tins with paper liners.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir together to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, eggs, and pumpkin; add to dry ingredients and stir until well-combined and no dry streaks remain. Stir in chocolate chips.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into prepared cupcake tins, filling each cup about half-full. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack or serve warm.

Oatmeal Spice Muffins

oatmeal spice muffinThis morning I had a wee mishap in the kitchen, when I forgot to add the baking powder to my first batch of oatmeal spice muffins. Baking powder is an important leavening agent composed of both sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, and acid salts that react with wet ingredients to create bubbles of carbon dioxide that lighten batter.

When you forget to add a leavening agent to a recipe, you’ll end up with a dense, flat finished product rather than a light, fluffy one; see the photograph below for the difference in my muffins. And, while baking powder and baking soda are related, they’re not necessarily interchangeable. If all you have is baking powder, you can use it in place of baking soda by doubling or tripling the quantity in your recipe. But, if all you have is baking soda, you’ll need to mix it with cream of tartar before substituting it for baking powder; just mix one part baking soda to two parts cream of tartar.

My second batch of these muffins turned out very well, though they’re not as sweet as I was expecting. Next time, I might add a bit of oatmeal streusel topping with brown sugar to ramp up the flavor. This recipe was adapted from another that I found online which was supposed to yield 12 muffins, but my batch only yielded 11. I suspect that these would be great as mini muffins, though.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • dash of cloves
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400. Line muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; make a well in the center.

In a glass measuring cup, combine milk, egg, oil, and vanilla; add all at once to the well in the dry mixture and stir until combined. Batter will be lumpy, but that’s okay.

Add pecans and stir to combine.

Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full and bake for 17 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack or serve warm.

Below, you can see the difference baking powder makes. The muffin on the left is not only fluffier, but darker in color than the muffin on the right. 

leaven vs unleaven

Nutella-Swirled Banana Muffins

nutella swirl muffinsMmm, Nutella. This delicious hazelnut spread isn’t something I eat very often, but I’ve become very interested in baking with it recently and have pinned many a Nutella-based recipe on my Pinterest baking board. Pinterest is quite a playground for food bloggers, and I found this recipe there from fellow blogger Maya at Alaska from Scratch; I just tweaked very slightly (including a bit more vanilla and Nutella) in the recipe below.

Banana muffins are a great base for many additions, including nuts or chocolate chips (or both). This Nutella-swirled version looks amazing when finished, and I imagine that serving them with Nutella for spreading would be a great idea. I also think this could make a wonderful quick bread and would like to experiment with baking it on loaf form sometime in the future, perhaps with some nuts mixed into the batter.

Since I’m still fasting from sugar (and baked goods in particular) for Lent, it’s quite a challenge for me to not crack open one of these, slather it with some Nutella, and chow down. I will refrain for a few more weeks though, and will have to rely on Mike’s assessment of these muffins to learn whether they’re tasty or not. Sometime tells me they’ll be delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • heaping 1/2 cup Nutella

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin tins with paper liners; my batch yielded 20 muffins.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In another large bowl, combine mashed bananas, sugar, brown sugar, vegetable oil, buttermilk, egg, and vanilla extract. Stir together to combine, then add all at once to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Batter will be lumpy.

In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave Nutella in 15-second intervals until thinned and easy to stir. Using a tablespoon from your flatware, drop dollops of Nutella onto the top of each muffin and swirl with a toothpick to spread; I used about 1 tablespoon on each.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans for about 5 minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire racks.

 

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

pb banana muffinsWhat’s the difference between a muffin and cupcake? A sweet treat like this one might hover on the border of being a cupcake flavor-wise, but what really divides muffins from cupcakes is their chemical makeup and preparation style.

Muffins, which are small quick breads, tend to rely on vegetable oil for their fat content. Their dry ingredients and wet ingredients are mixed separately, then incorporated all at once until they’re just blended to avoid gluten activation so they have a crumbly texture. Muffins can be sweet or savory, ranging from chocolate chip to bacon cornbread.

Cupcakes, which are small cakes, rely mostly on butter for their fat content. Cupcake batter is normally prepared by creaming butter and sugar together, then adding other wet ingredients like eggs and flavorings before finally incorporating the flour to activate the gluten and yield a fluffier, less crumbly texture. While cupcakes tend to be sweet, anyone who’s watched an episode of Cupcake Wars on Food Network knows that all sorts of savory ingredients have appeared in cupcakes in more recent years.

These muffins combine the great flavor friends of peanut butter, banana, and chocolate. They’d be perfect with a bit of peanut butter smeared on them, but they’re also delicious without any further enhancements.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup very ripe mashed bananas (about 3 small bananas)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin tins with paper liners; this recipe yields about 20 muffins.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Add the bananas, milk, peanut butter, vegetable oil, and egg all at once, using a fork to mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of batter into prepared muffin tins, filling about 1/2 to 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until tops are light golden and a cake tester comes out clean.

Serve warm or cool.

 

Apple Butter Muffins

apple butter muffinsApple butter is a new ingredient for me, first put to use in last week’s peanut butter swirl brownies. Whenever I work with something new, I like to learn its history, to find out how it came to be used in baking.

Like many American staples, apple butter is a European invention. In essence, apple butter is a highly-concentrated form of applesauce, created by cooking apples and cider or water until the fruit caramelizes. The “butter” part refers to its consistency, being easily-spreadable; there is no dairy whatsoever in apple butter, making it a popular low-fat substitute in baking and cooking or in vegan recipes.

These muffins are adapted from another recipe I found online; I added cinnamon to the batter and streusel topping for additional texture. They’re among my favorite treats that I’ve made all summer, not too sweet but with a wonderful cinnamon-sugar aroma and far lighter texture than you’d expect for a recipe that involves rolled oats. My recipe yielded 12 muffins plus one miniature loaf of apple butter bread, but you could easily just made additional muffins if you wish–this just seemed like it would make a nice quick bread as well, so I thought I’d experiment.

Pittsburgh-area friends: visit Soergel Orchards in Wexford for the best apple butter around. They make it themselves from their very own apples and it is delicious.

Ingredients

For streusel topping:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

For the muffins:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line 12-16 muffin cups with paper liners (or line 12 muffin cups with paper liners and lightly grease one miniature loaf pan).

Make streusel topping: in a small bowl combine all ingredients and rub together with your fingers until the mixture resembles very coarse sand. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine oats, milk, eggs, and apple butter; mix well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; add to wet mixture and stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full.

Using a teaspoon from your measuring spoon set, scoop a very generous amount of streusel topping onto each muffin.

Bake for 20 minutes, until tops are very lightly golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack or serve slightly warm.

Note: if you’re also baking a mini quick bread, it bakes for 20 minutes as well.

 

Peanut Butter Muffins

pb muffinsHappy Canada Day! Today, I’d like to celebrate Canadian Marcellus Gilmore Edson, pioneer of modern peanut butter, as I consider him to be a genius on par with Albert Einstein and John Nash.

Whatever possessed Mr. Edson to mill roasted peanuts between sheets of heated metal is beyond me, but I’m certainly glad he did. Without him, we wouldn’t have peanut butter cookies, cakes, candies, muffins, pies…the list goes on.

This muffin recipe is very simple, yielding a subtle peanut butter flavor and smooth, moist texture. You could serve them with peanut butter (as I did in the photo above), but jelly, honey, or regular butter would also work well. The original recipe for these muffins called for brushing their tops with melted butter, then sprinkling them with cinnamon and sugar.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line two muffin tins with paper liners; you will need 16.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Cut in peanut butter and butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a large measuring cup, combine milk and eggs and whisk together; add to crumb mixture and stir until just moistened; batter will be very lumpy.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, until tops are just golden and a cake tester comes out clean.

 

 

 

Peanut Butter Honey Muffins

pb honey muffins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the past three months, I haven’t eaten sweets. How, you ask, can a baker do such a thing? What would possess someone who clearly loves desserts to deny herself all manner of cakes, cookies, chocolates, and pastries for months? The simple answer is: her scale (which nearly got hurled out the window after Christmas). And so with only 14 days to go in Operation No Sweets ‘Til Denver (I’m going to Denver for work two weeks from now), I sought out something that was baked, but not dessert-like. Enter the peanut butter honey muffin.

One could argue that such a muffin is dessert-like, but it contains no sugar, only honey, so I put it in the same category as corn muffins or blueberry muffins; they are more of a breakfast item than a dessert (I mean, some people might have blueberry muffins for dessert, but I certainly wouldn’t).

Most of the time when I read a recipe, I have a good sense of how the finished product will taste. I expected far more peanut butter flavor in these muffins, which I’m sorry to say turned out bland. The original recipe called for only one cup of flour, but the batter was too runny, so I added about six generous teaspoons of additional flour, one at a time, to shore it up. I suspect that this may have altered the flavor, so next time I’d like to try adding crunchy peanut butter in a greater amount, and perhaps some brown sugar in addition to the honey to balance the texture.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plus 5 to 6 generous teaspoons flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • peanut butter, honey, or honey butter for serving

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners.

In a medium bowl, stir together baking powder, salt, and one cup of the flour.

Add vegetable oil, peanut butter, and honey; mix with a fork, using a cutting-in motion like you would for pastry, until crumbs form.

Add milk and stir together; add additional flour, 1 generous teaspoon at a time, until the batter is no longer runny.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into liners, filling about three-quarters full.

Bake 12-16 minutes, until tops are very lightly golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack or serve warm; I recommend serving with peanut butter and honey, or honey butter, to enhance the flavor.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve discussed my sincere appreciation for lemons previously on this blog, and now I must take a moment to acknowledge poppy seeds.  As a gal with Eastern European roots, I feel that poppy seeds are the seeds of my people.  Slovaks and Hungarians are crazy about poppy seeds.  We grind them into dust and cook them with sugar and water to slather inside dough for poppy seed rolls.  We put them on breads and in muffins.  My dear friend Tara (to whom I would swear I am related, perhaps as a distant fourth-cousin) always offers a poppy seed cake as a condolence at wakes, as is her family tradition.

The person who wrote the recipe below claimed that it yielded 12 muffins when baked in a standard muffin tin.  I’m not sure in which universe a recipe with three cups of flour only yields 12 muffins, but hey, I’m not going to judge.  I tweaked the recipe slightly and added more lemon zest for extra flavor, and when all was said and done, I had 27 muffins.

A note about poppy seeds: they can turn rancid when not stored properly or used in a timely manner, so they must be frozen or kept in the refrigerator.  I keep my seeds in the fridge for up to six months; they should remain blue-black in color and retain their poppy seed smell when fresh.  If they look or smell suspicious, throw them out.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 10 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 ounces plain yogurt (I used Stonyfield Organic)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest

For lemon glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • About 3 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined.

Add lemon zest, beating until combined.

Add the flour mixture and yogurt in thirds, alternatively, beating until just combined – take care to not over-mix your batter.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop or two tablespoons, drop batter into lined muffin tins, distributing batter evenly.  Refrigerate any extra dough while the first two batches bake.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool for two minutes in tins, then remove to a wire rack.

Prepare lemon glaze; place powdered sugar in a medium bowl and add lemon juice, one tablespoon at a time, until you achieve a very, very drizzly consistency; I used about 3 ½ tablespoons of juice.

While muffins are still warm, brush the tops with the lemon glaze.  Muffins can be glazed a second time if you wish.

Blueberry Muffins

Last week, my mom brought me a pint of fresh blueberries.  I haven’t baked with fruit very much, but I love blueberry muffins, especially ones with a hint of lemon and a crunchy sugar topping.

Ingredients

Muffins

  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 egg, well-beaten
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • Zest of 1 small lemon

Sugar Topping

  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • About ¼ cup sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line one muffin tin with paper liners.

Wash blueberries and dry on paper towels to remove excess moisture.  Toss berries with 2 tablespoons sugar and set aside.

Sift together flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.

In a medium mixing bowl combine milk, egg, oil, and vanilla.

Add to dry ingredients at once, stirring quickly with a fork until just moistened.

Add blueberries and lemon zest, folding in gently, taking care not to break blueberries.

Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake for 23 minutes.

While muffins are still warm, brush tops with melted butter and dip in sugar.