Tag Archives: crumb topping

Pumpkin Muffins with Crumb Topping… Top of the Muffin to Ya!


This morning I made pumpkin muffins with crumb topping. Why? Because it’s pumpkin season plain and simple. I was not in the mood for pumpkin muffins, but I found a can of pumpkin in my pantry (which I tend to always have) and decided to make them. Why I always have a can of pureed pumpkin is a mystery, but I think most bakers do. At least I hope I’m not alone in this! Isn’t the weekend always made better with a basket filled with muffins on the table and the smell of cinnamon in the air?

Maybe it’s all the subliminal messaging I feel I’m getting. Every time I walk into the grocery store (especially Trader Joe’s) right in the front display are the pumpkin Jo-Jo’s and everything pumpkin spice. It doesn’t stop there; pumpkin and pumpkin spice has found its way into coffee and tea, cereal, granola, ice cream, cookies, tortilla chips, salsa, biscotti, cream cheese, bagels, candy, and even challah bread! When did this happen? And what ever happened to the good old pumpkin muffin? Why has it been pushed aside? Shouldn’t it play a leading role in pumpkin season? I think so. That’s why I set out to make what I think is the most perfect, moist, and delicious pumpkin muffin with crumb topping.

I went through a lot of cookbooks and websites searching for the perfect muffin. Then I wrote down everything I love about them. I made about 4 batches before hitting on the perfect marriage. These are not too sweet and they stay nice and soft for a few days.* Raisins add a nice surprise and you know I’m crazy for crumb topping so both have a major role in my final version. I also used the whole can of pumpkin to see what would happen, and it was perfect. I just hate having a smidgen of pumpkin left in my fridge.

I also made a tray with sunflower seeds sprinkled on top which are very worthy of a mention here. If you prefer to skip the crumb, by all means sprinkle them with sunflower or even pumpkin seeds – both add a nice crunch to the top. I’m including the photo above so you can see how tender the cake is and how cute they are with sunflower seeds! Am I right?

I almost forgot to share this fun little tidbit about Ohio life with you. Last weekend was the Circleville, Ohio Pumpkin Show. It’s a whole weekend dedicated to pumpkins. In 14 years I have never been. Thanks to my friend Andrea, I can share her photo of the 2 largest pumpkins this year. A 1,701 pound pumpkin would sure make a lot of muffins! Usually I would end with Enjoy! But this time I’m going to end differently… You’re Welcome!

Ingredients:
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour spooned in and leveled
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup extra light olive oil,** or other vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 – 15oz. can Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin***
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature (large will work here as well)
1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk) at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup white raisins
confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Crumb topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter melted (make these dairy free by using Earth’s Balance soy free sticks)

Directions:
Place rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. This recipe makes 16 to 18 muffins, so prepare 2 muffin pans accordingly and set aside. total time including prep 30 minutes

Start with the crumb topping: whisk the flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt together until combined. Using a fork, stir in the melted butter until crumbs form breaking up any big pieces. Set aside.

Make the muffins: In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt together until combined. Set aside. In a larger bowl, whisk the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs and milk together until combined. If you are using raisins, add them at this time and mix in. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then fold everything together gently just until combined and no flour pockets remain.

Using a 2 ½ in cookie scoop, scoop the batter into liners. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of crumbs evenly on top of the batter and ever so gently press them down into the batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes total or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. I like to bake them for 10 minutes, then turn the pans and bake for another 10. After that I keep a close eye on them setting the timer for 2 minutes at a time. That’s what makes the difference between a moist muffin and one which is a little dryer. For mini muffins, bake for 11-13 minutes also at 350°F

Let cool in muffin pan and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar if you would like.*I leave them out very lightly covered and suggest warming them in the toaster oven after day 2 (if they are still around). That will crisp up the top a bit and who doesn’t’ love a warm muffin?

**You may notice I use extra light olive oil, sunflower oil, or grape seed oil, in most of my baking when oil is called for. I think they are the perfect baking oils, and the healthiest. Any good vegetable oil would be a great sub.

***Different brands of pureed pumpkin will yield different results. I tried two others and felt Libby’s had the best flavor and end result. If you use a different brand, I can’t promise the same results so bake at your own risk!!!!!!!

King Arthur Flour – You had me at Babka!


King Arthur Flour… you had me at babka! For me, a chocolate babka is tied for first place with crumb cake. Both are delicious Eastern European coffee cakes making them even more delicious by the addition of a cup of coffee. Both have ample crumb topping and both quintessentially New York. So let’s talk babka! It’s been over 20 years since the Seinfeld episode “The Dinner Party” aired bringing this little coffee cake into the mainstream of pop culture. I could probably recite verbatim the scene when Jerry and Elaine are waiting in the bakery to buy a chocolate babka. Can’t you hear Elaine saying “YOU CAN’T BEAT A BABKA – they’re gonna be heroes!” Let’s face it, she’s right – you can’t beat a babka, especially chocolate! Plus, while perfect anytime, it is especially perfect to enjoy during your weekend brunch.

The month of April was the King Arthur Flour chocolate babka bakealong. If you don’t know about the King Arthur bakealong, join the club. I stumbled upon it accidentally on Instagram. Each month they announce a new recipe for us to try, with tips and step-by-step instructions on their blog. After you have created your delicious masterpiece, they invite you to share a photo of your final product tagging it with #bakealong.

I found out about this at the most inopportune time; it was during the week of Passover (which was a couple of weeks ago). Passover is a holiday when Jewish people celebrate their freedom from slavery. It is also a time when we don’t eat bread (or babka for that matter!), instead we eat unleavened products like matzo. Here I was, smack in the middle of Passover, a holiday I love by the way, enjoying my matzo (LOL) and everyday there were beautiful photos of babka being posted on Instagram. Since then, I have had babka on the brain! Which, if you know me is not so unusual! What’s a girl to do? My only challenge was blocking out 5 hours or so to make it. Don’t be frightened; it’s only about 45 minutes hands-on time, other than that it’s just waiting for it to rise.

Coming in just under the wire, as tomorrow is the last day of April, I finally found the time and have been noshing on it all week! While keeping the integrity of the recipe I still managed to put my splash on it. I noticed in the photos posted by other bakers it seemed there was a higher cake to chocolate filling ratio. I’m all about the filling so I made twice the recipe called for. Being a self-proclaimed babka connoisseur, and crumb topping lover, I doubled that as well. I also rolled mine a little thinner so there was a denser chocolate marbling.


It was an easy recipe to follow and yielded a perfect and delicious babka. If I had one comment, it felt like there was too much dough to fit in the two 9” loaf pans. I ended up trimming the excess and made muffins out of some of the extra dough. These are the times when I hear my mother’s voice… “having too much babka dough should be the biggest problem you have in your life!” Next time I will make 3 instead, wishing I could share one with her.

Once in the oven, my babkas took on a life of their own which I took notice of when they were rising. I placed the loaf pans on a lined sheet pan before I put them in the oven and boy I’m glad I did; there was a bit of crumb spillage over the edges. Overall, the outcome was perfect and I loved the recipe.  The flavor is really what you expect this delicious coffeecake to taste like. The chocolate was luscious and rich, the cake very tender, and the crumb topping added just the right contrast. The extra crumb topping and chocolate filling really hit the mark. There is no better way to enjoy a weekend than with a piece of chocolate babka and a nice cup of coffee!

The recipe which follows is adapted from the King Arthur Flour blog post from their April bakealong challenge. The recipe makes two very large loaves. They suggest keeping one, and giving one away, (which I did and it got rave reviews). One person said it was the best babka she ever had. King Arthur got inspiration for their recipe from Maggie Glezer, and her book, A Blessing of Bread. I recently checked it out of the library and am in the middle of reading it now. Of course I will have to try her recipe as well. I was excited to learn the word babka in Polish means grandmother! When I have grandchildren, if not Bubbe, I’ll be Babka! Enjoy!

Prep:  25 to 35 minutes
Bake:  50 to 60 minutes
Total:  5 to 6 hours 15 minutes
Yield:  2 loaves is what the original recipe states, but I suggest 3

Dough
1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (more if needed)
2 large eggs
6 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk (I used Carnation)
2 tablespoons instant yeast, SAF Red or SAF Gold instant yeast preferred (I used Fleishmann’s Yeast)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (I melted it)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Egg wash

1 large egg beaten with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar until well-combined

Filling (below is already doubled)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa, Triple Cocoa Blend, or the cocoa powder of your choice, Dutch-process or natural (I used Hershey’s Cocoa powder)
1 teaspoon espresso powder (I omitted)
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips, mini chips preferred (I used 1 heaping cup Ghirardelli mini semisweet chocolate chips)
2 cup diced pecans or walnuts, toasted if desired (I omitted)

Topping (below is already doubled)
8 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour


Directions
Combine all of the dough ingredients (starting with the lesser amount of water), mixing until everything is moistened. Add additional water if necessary to enable the dough to come together. I started with larger amount of water and added another ½ cup. It was very dry dough. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Then mix/knead it until it’s soft and smooth.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and cover the bowl. The dough is going to rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until it’s quite puffy.

Gently deflate the dough, and divide it in half (or thirds). Set the pieces aside, covered, while you make the filling.

To make the filling: Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and espresso (which I omitted). Stir in the melted butter. The mixture will look grainy and slick; that’s okay.

Shape each half of the dough into a 9″ x 18″, 1/4″-thick rectangle. If the dough “fights back,” let it rest for 10 minutes to relax the gluten, then stretch it some more. Don’t be fussy about this; 19″ or 20″ is as good as 18″.

Smear (if you’re Jewish, schmear!) each piece of the dough with half the filling, coming to within an inch of the edges.

Scatter half the chocolate (you’ll make a thin layer), half the nuts, and half the chopped chocolate/chips over each piece. If using standard-size chips, process them in a food processor first, to create smaller bits of chocolate and a less chunky filling.

Starting with a short end, roll each piece gently into a log, sealing the seam and ends. Working with one log at a time, use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthwise (not crosswise) to make two pieces of dough about 10″ long each; cut carefully, to prevent too much filling from spilling out. With the exposed filling side up, twist the two pieces into a braid, tucking the ends underneath. Repeat with the other log. Place each log into a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. (In addition to spraying the pans, I lined them with parchment paper. This made it much easier to take out)

Brush each loaf with the egg wash. Mix together the topping ingredients until crumbly, divide it in half and sprinkle the topping over each loaf.

Tent each pan with plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise until they’re very puffy and have crowned a good inch over the rim of the pan, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 300°F.

Bake the bread for 35 minutes. Tent lightly with foil, and bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes (for a total of 50 to 60 minutes); the loaves should be a deep-golden brown.

To ensure the loaves are baked through, insert a digital thermometer into the center of one loaf. It should register at least 190°F. (I used a cake tester and it came out clean. Baking time was just about spot on.

Remove the loaves from the oven, and immediately loosen the edges with a heatproof spatula or table knife. Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, and then turn them out of the pans onto a rack to cool completely.

Slice the babka and serve it at room temperature; or rewarm individual slices briefly in a toaster, if desired. Store any leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.