Coffee Cake Muffins

March 4, 2011 § 4 Comments

J:  For one of my classes this spring, each student is responsible for bringing in breakfast once during the course of the semester.  My turn was a couple weeks ago, and while everyone else had been bringing in storebought bagels (clearly none of them had read this post), I figured that I should make something a little more jazzed-up, and I decided on coffee cake muffins.

artistic lighting? check.

My first experience of coffee cake muffins was a transformational one: it was a busy day during my senior year of college and I had just enough time to swing by and grab coffee and a snack from the café next to the Psych building (where I had essentially taken up residence) as some form of “lunch.”  This café had excellent muffins.  I used to get a pumpkin muffin almost every morning in autumn, and would devour it blissfully while sitting in my 9am classes and sipping on sub-par coffee, pretending that the muffin was far lower in calories than it actually was, partially because I was eating it so early, and partially because, hey, pumpkin is pretty healthy, right?

Anyway, I digress.  I hadn’t had a muffin that morning, and I wanted one, and I needed coffee, and I figured, hey, they have coffee cake muffins, maybe I should get one of those to eat with my coffee, no?  Maybe because it has coffee in the name it will give me more caffeine!  Well, contrary to popular belief, coffee cake muffins do not contain coffee (though that may be a food project for another day…), but they ARE superb when consumed with a hot mug of the beverage.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you have never had coffee with a coffee cake muffin, you have not experienced the full range of deliciousness that coffee has to offer.

…oh, did you want a recipe?  Okay, you can have a recipe.  Here we go.

Jumbo Coffee Cake Muffins — recipe makes 15(ish) large muffins
(slightly modified from original recipe, found here)
For the “streusel” swirl & topping
1 1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c unsalted butter, chilled

For the muffins
2 2/3 c all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c sour cream
1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs

We’ll start off with the streusel topping/swirl.  Just a note before we dive in: the amounts for the streusel made literally almost twice as much as I used for the actual muffins. (I ended up using the leftovers to make a drop-dead-delicious loaf of pecan-cinnamon bread, which will be posted once I manage to replicate it, but that’s another story.) So, if you don’t want a lot of streusel left over, cut down the amounts to 1/2 or 2/3 of what they are in the recipe and see how that is for you.

In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon.  Cut the (cold!) butter into smallish pieces and add that to the dry mixture.

adding in butter

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the streusel is kind of crumbly.  If you have a pastry cutter, use it!  If not, use a fork or my favorite recourse: one of the beaters from an electric mixer.

surprisingly effective

It’s okay if you have some slightly bigger chunks of butter in there; don’t worry about getting them all chopped up into little crumbs.

You’re done!  Put the streusel in the refrigerator until you need it — it should be nice and cold by the time you’re ready to use it for the muffins.

Now, preheat your oven to 350, and let’s move on to the muffin batter.  Another note: these muffins were quite buttery and sweet, so next time I make them I’m likely to cut down on both the butter and the sugar by just a little bit (i.e., reduce butter to maybe 8 or 10 tbsp instead of 12, and reduce sugar to 1 or 1 1/4 c instead of 1 1/2 c).  If you try those revised amounts, please let me know how they turn out!

So: in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set the bowl aside.

In a larger bowl, cream together the butter, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla.  I’d recommend starting with the butter (cut into manageable chunks) and the sour cream, getting those sort-of mixed together, and then adding the sugar and vanilla.  If you have an electric mixer, this is a good time to use it, just to make things go a little faster.  You want the mixture to be pretty smooth.

Next, add in the three eggs.

pretty sure this belongs in an art gallery somewhere

Beat them in well.  Finally, add the flour/baking powder/baking soda mixture you had set aside, about 1/3 at a time, until well-combined.  When you do this, I would suggest using a spoon or rubber spatula instead of the electric mixer, because you don’t want to over-mix this or else it will start getting too stiff and dough-like instead of nice and batter-y.

looks good to me

Butter and flour your muffin tins.  My trick to butter muffin tins or baking sheets is just to use the paper wrapper from the sticks of butter, so feel free to do that.  Then lightly tap some flour into the tins (be sure to get the sides of the tins too), and invert over your sink to get out the excess.

Get your streusel out of the fridge.  Divide 1/2 to 2/3 of the muffin batter into the prepared muffin tins.  I used approximately 2 tbsp of batter (perhaps a smidgen more) for each tin.  It’s okay if the batter isn’t evenly spread out; just lump it in there and it’ll sort itself out while it bakes.  Next, put a small handful of the streusel in each tin on top of the batter — this will give the muffins a nice cinnamon-brown sugar “swirl.”  Put the rest of the batter on top of the streusel (for me, this was about 1 tbsp of batter per tin).  And finally, top each tin with another small handful of streusel.

you want the tins to be about this full

(I may have forgotten to photograph the muffins before putting them in the oven… oops)

Bake the muffins for 25-30 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Let them cool in the pan for a few minutes, and then remove them to a wire rack and let them finish cooling.

baked and cooling

Serve with — what else? — coffee, and enjoy!

perfect afternoon pick-me-up


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§ 4 Responses to Coffee Cake Muffins

  • […] of you who’ve been reading for a little while might remember this post, in which I referenced some “drop-dead-delicious” pecan bread that I made with the […]

  • […] admit it up front: these muffins are kind of cheating.  They are actually the same basic recipe as these muffins, just with a few minor tweaks — why mess with a good thing, right?  Anyway, the coffee cake […]

  • Audrey says:

    Hi! I made these muffins today to give to my boss for Christmas, and they are delicious! I should’ve halved the streudel, like you suggested, but now I’ll just have to think of something else to do with it 🙂 Here’s what I did- I have a tiny european oven so mine only needed to cook for 20 minutes. I also only had one muffin pan and I didn’t want to be constantly loading and unloading it so I made one pan of muffins and then made the rest into a loaf. It had to cook for about 35 minutes, but it looks great! Thanks for the recipe!

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