Babycakes…

People get so in the habit of worry that if you save them from drowning and put them on a bank to dry in the sun with hot chocolate and muffins they wonder whether they are catching cold. – John Jay Chapman

Muffins really do get the short end of the stick in the baking world.

Which is really too bad, because if they are done right, they are pretty awesome. A cross between a quick bread and a cupcake.

But (and with apologies to Longfellow) when they are bad, they are horrid. We’ve all had the lame-ass conference room muffin, the gas station stand-by as you roll through Barstow (a town as equally uninspiring as that saran-wrapped banana nut travesty).

But I’m here today to tell you that they are worth your attention.

Especially when you are presented with a basic recipe that can accommodate not only the last of the season’s peaches, but next season’s cranberries. Or next year’s strawberries, or raspberries, or gooseberries, or snozzberries…

…and has a super delicious crumble top…

…and tastes like teensy little bits of “good morning!” that are perfect to wake up to.

The only failing I can find in this recipe is that it takes a couple extra steps and maybe an extra bowl or two, but trust me, they are worth it. You, and your paramour, will thank me.

Fruit Crumble Muffins

Adapted from Sarabeth’s Bakery

You will need:

  • 1 muffin tin
  • 1 small saucepan
  • 12 cupcake liners
  • 1 small bowl
  • 2 medium mixing bowls
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 1 citrus zester
  • 1 whisk
  • 1 magic ice cream scoop

Ingredients for muffin batter:

  • 1 large orange, zested and juiced (you should have 1/3 cup juice, strained to remove pips)
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature, natch)
  • 2 1/4 cup flour (bread flour is best but if all you have is all purpose don’t worry, it’s cool)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup seasonal fruit, diced if needed

Ingredients for crumble mixture:

  • 6 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Make crumble mixture by placing all dry ingredients in the small bowl, and melting butter. Pour melted butter on the dry ingredients and mix together with a fork, breaking it up with your fingers as needed. Set aside.

In one mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Sift brown sugar into the dry ingredients to remove any lumps (I use a strainer for this). Whisk together.

In the second bowl, whisk wet ingredients (milk, oil, eggs, orange zest and juice) together.

Pour wet ingredients over dry, and stir to combine. Don’t go crazy here, a few lumps are OK. Fold in whatever fruit you are using.

Use your magic scoop to portion the batter into the muffin cups. My magic scoop was given to me by my mom, who got it from her mom, etc. and so on. You may not be so lucky, but never fear – in the end, you want your paper liner to be about 2/3 full.

Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over the tops of the muffins.

Bake at 400 until a tester comes out clean (15 minutes, give or take).

Enjoy with tousled hair, a cup of coffee, and the New York Times.

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