Coffee Cake Muffins

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Weekend mornings around here fall into one of two categories. Either there are more things to do than there is time to get them done or there is nothing that needs doing and hours to spend. I kind of like both options but in the second one at least there is time for muffins.

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Look I love fruit muffins – blueberry, banana, cherry – as much as the next person but I don’t often have fruit around just waiting to go into muffins. And while you can use frozen blueberries in muffin batter the juice bleeds and makes the muffins kind of purple which I’m not a huge fan of.

What I do have a lot of is spices which make a pretty good muffin all on their own.

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Alright, but if we’re not putting fruit in the muffin you can’t just bake it up and call it a day. The problem with muffins is that they straddle the line between bread and cupcakes. A mini-cupcake isn’t really a breakfast item and a mini-bread is kind of boring. So spice muffins need something extra, like a buttery crumb-topping.

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Fruity muffins are delicious but they aren’t so good with coffee or strong tea. These spice muffins are the perfect complement to your favorite morning beverage. They’re sweet and spicy and sort of like hand-held coffee cake. I’d recommend sharing them friends unless you’re comfortable eating a dozen in one sitting. Cause it might happen.

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Coffee Cake Spice Muffins
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan, Baking From My Home to Yours

Muffins:
2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 tbs baking powder
½ tsp ground allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp kosher salt
8 tbs (1 stick) butter, melted
¼ cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk

Crumb Topping:
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup chopped walnut pieces
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tbs lemon zest or ½ tbs ground lemon powder
5 tbs cold butter
½ tsp kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter a muffin tin and set it aside.

In a medium sized bowl mix together all the streusel ingredients except for the butter. Stir them to evenly distribute everything. Then work the butter into the dry ingredients until there are still some pea-sized pieces of butter mixed with streusel but all the pieces are coated.* Then set the topping aside.

In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients together – flour, baking powder, spices, salt, and both sugars. In a separate medium bowl combine the wet ingredients – melted butter, eggs, and milk – until well combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk them gently until just combined. Lumps are ok but over-mixing is not good.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle them with streusel topping and gently press the crumbs into the top.

Bake the muffins for 20 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Take them out and let them cool for five minutes in their tins. Then remove the muffins to a cooling rack and let them cool the rest of the way.**

* Over-mixing the streusel topping will melt the butter and then you won’t get nice big crumbs on the top of your muffin. Don’t give in to the temptation to mix it more than necessary. If you can’t get all the dry goods into the butter just add more, don’t mix too much.

** I normally advocate cooling muffins upside down so that bottoms can cool quickly. If you don’t let the muffin bottom cool quickly it gets soggy and the muffin sort of collapses. But since these are crumb topped upside-down cooling is messy so a rack works almost as well.

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