Crumb Buns or Best Streusel Coffeecake Ever!

I just had to share this with you (and the future me, in case I forget).20170127_164803163_ios

It is only just the best coffeecake I can recall ever eating! It’s a yeasted dough, soft,  moist with incredible crumbles of streusel on top.

I just bought, on a whim, a copy of the newest “Cooks Country” magazine. We were browsing the shelves at Barnes and Noble on my dear hubby’s birthday, before going out to dinner. Bookstore exploring is a long standing tradition, going back to our dating years, in the age of the dinosaur (or the age of the used bookstores on every corner).

Warning, if you just want this fabulous recipe, either go out and get the Cooks
Country magazine for Feb/March 2017 or see below. If you are not in a hurry, then…

If I might digress a minute, hubby tells longingly of the days in his youth when he would hop on a bus going to downtown San Diego with nothing but a few coins in his worn jeans pockets, wearing a tired flannel shirt, old sneakers and his long hippy length hair. No water bottles, no cell phones, no food. Just an escape from an unhappy home to go on safari into the dark recesses of Wahrenbrocks, Fifth St books or Joe Herwig booksellers. We still have some of the rare or special finds he had squirreled away back then, hiding them behind other books until he could scrape up a couple of dollars to go back and buy them. He’d spend just about every weekend there.

I remember when he and I were in high school together, I took my first public bus ride to downtown San Diego with him so he could share those wonderful Aladdin’s caves with me. I remember a bit of the bookstores, but have more memories of the old Horton Plaza, where the buses stopped and which scared the bejesus out of me! A big fountain was in the center and so, so many people!  I had never actually seen an X-rated theater in real life. Here I was surrounded by them. Sailors and hookers and students and just folks, mingling, catching buses, sharing booze and joints and laughter. This cringing wallflower hung on tight to the back of his shirt so he wouldn’t lose me, or I him. I might never find my way home! I might have to stay there forever, earning my keep in a dark cavernous bookstore.

Meh, I can think of worse ways to end up.

(At this point I was going to add a YouTube link to an old bluegrass type song about Horton Plaza, but they never heard of it! So, sorry ’bout that. “Horton Plaza has a toe-hold on my heart…I grow sad-get mad-go bad when we’re apart…hobos guzzlin’ their Red Mountain, pigeons nuzzlin’ by the fountain, something-something beyond countin’ in my lovely little park”. oh well.)

Where was I? Oh yes, fabulous coffeecake.

Take it from a streusel queen, this cake is fabulous! I always thought yeasted dough for a cake would be too tough. But I was so wrong.

Now mind, the recipe says you need cake flour for the streusel. Cake flour ladies and gents! You can use all purpose for the cake itself, but the streusel needs cake flour to give it that crumbly soft texture. I went to the store to get some and found them out. I was so disappointed. Then I went home and found some in a large glass jar in my pantry. I should have known. I must have 8-10 different kinds of flour around the pantry and freezer. Sheesh.

Katie Leaird of Cooks Country calls them “New Jersey Crumb Buns”, but I’ll call them plain crumb buns, because I’m lazy.

And thank you to Ms. Leaird and all the staff at Cooks Country!

So here you go:

INGREDIENTS:

Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (11 1/4 oz)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pkg yeast or 2 1/4 tsp
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp butter, soft and cut into 6 pieces.
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream-TOTALLY MY OWN IDEA, so its optional. If you use it, and I did to add moistness, you will have to add some flour to compensate for the extra liquid. More on that later.

Topping

  • 18 Tbsp (2 1/4 sticks, which is 2 cubes plus the rest of the cube used above) melted
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (5 1/4 oz)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (5 1/4 oz)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups cake flour (yes, it’s a lot)
  • powdered sugar to decorate

for the cake:

  1. grease a 9 x 13 cake pan. Preheat the oven now (or soon) to 350 degrees. Oddly enough, although this dough is yeasted, it does not raise twice, like you would for bread. Just once in the pan. So this is kind of quick, relatively speaking.
  2. In a standing mixer or with your big bulging arms, (although a mixer is recommended) mix together the flour, milk, sugar, egg, yeast, salt and, if using, sour cream. Mix well, kneading with a dough hook for about 2 minutes until it comes together. If using sour cream, add about 1/4-1/3 cup more flour
  3. Now, with the mixer running, add in the softened butter, 1 piece at a time until its incorporated before adding the next. Increase the speed of the mixer (or your arms?) now and continue to knead for about 5-6 minutes. it will not leave sides of bowl, or shouldn’t. The dough will form “stretchy, web like strands”. This dough is soft and sticky. A little more than tacky, but not pourable.
  4. Using a greased spatula, or I used a dough scraper, transfer the dough to the prepared dish. Pat it evenly into the dish with your floured hands. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour. I actually let it rise almost 1 1/2 hours. It will just puff a bit, not really double in size. In fact, I ended up watching tv with the silly thing in my lap, (after the streusel part) figuring it was so cold in the house, my body heat might help warm up. Of course by then, the oven was preheating anyway.

Now the topping:

  1. Melt the butter, if you haven’t already done so.
  2. Mix together the brown and white sugars, salt, cinnamon and finally, the butter. Mix and Mix. With a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula, which ever you like. It will not want to absorb the butter all that fast, but it will happen. Now add the cake flour and continue to mix until it is a thick, cohesive dough.
  3. Give it 10 minutes for the liquids to absorb the flour. Feel it with your fingers. I thought it was still a bit too wet, so I added a bit more flour. Just a spoonful. (A Loving Spoonful). That seemed to do the trick.
  4. After the dough has been given time to puff, start adding bits of crumbled topping, breaking it into little blobs of about 1/2″ or so. Cover all the dough, then take the leftover topping and continue to cover the dough some more. It seems like too much, but it’s not. Use it all up.
  5. Once it’s all covered in steusel topping and the cake has had time to puff, at least 1 hour, then its time to put into the preheated oven.
  6. Bake until the crumbs are golden brown and the cake is about 215 degrees with your instant read thermometer. I was thrilled when she actually gave me a temperature for a cake! That’s one of my biggest cake issues, when-is-it-done? Anyway, this will take 30-35 minutes. Take out and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powered sugar, cut and enjoy.
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I had to send most of it away with my son to work. I just did not trust myself.

I tell you, I have made many cakes and sometimes I will press on it gently, it will seem done, then it will sink when it cools off. Especially pound cakes, my nemesis! I will test with a cake tester, press gently, give it an extra 5 minutes and still-pfffttt! It sinks as it cools. With pound cakes, I’d say 50% of the time. Its pathetic.

Then there is the other extreme, what if you leave it in too long and it gets dry? I love that we don’t have to worry about this one-215 degrees.

Let’s face it, coffeecakes are the easy workhorses of the cake world. Quick to come together (usually, although this one is a little longer), delicious and feeds a crowd. Perfect for teas and get togthers and pot lucks.

Ok, go for it! Have fun and enjoy it with some tea in a pretty china cup!

Blueberry Muffins with a side of earthquakes

Wellll, I have to admit, these muffins did not turn out quite like I planned. But they are mighty good. Why write about muffins that did not turn out quite like I planned? So you can learn from my mistakes of course!

I should have called this post “Blueberry muffins before the big one hits”.

I rarely make muffins around here because I have a tendency to eat them. And eat them. And eat them. But after the exhilarating earthquake Friday night and about a hundred tiny tremors since then, I have had a change of thought. If I am going to go down, I’m going down full of muffins.

The very yellow look is, I think, from the very yellow yolks from our very fresh chicken eggs. They turn everything yellow when I use them.
The very yellow look is, I think, from the very yellow yolks from our very fresh chicken eggs. They turn everything yellow when I use them.

I imagined these muffins with lots of streusel topping actually on top. But once they started rising, the streusel shifted, like soil moving aside for a sprout to pop out of the ground. (Ahh yes, its spring, when a young persons mind becomes twitterpated and a middle-aged mind thinks about gardening. Or muffins.)

Where was I? Earthquakes. No, muffins, wait, sprouts.

Okay, lets talk earthquakes for a minute. I tell my kids, if you are in bed when an earthquake hits, just stay there and cover your head with a pillow, in case things go flying off the walls or dressers. I hear of more people getting hurt running through the house during a quake than holding still. Unless you are next to a large bookcase or china cabinet or plate-glass window, then dive under a table.

One time we had a quake when I was not home and I hear my older son, who was taking  a geology class in college, and had heard a professor talk about quakes, went diving out his bedroom window. Just ‘boom’ kicked out the screen and jumped out. He claimed it was safer than staying inside. Wish I had seen it.

I, on the other hand, had just finished an inspection of a vacant home south of here somewhere, like Lake Forest or some such place. It was a 2 story home, nice. I measured, took my pictures, wrote the notes and headed out the front door, making sure to lock it and replace the key. Suddenly I heard a rumble. Thats strange, it was coming from the ground. Everything, including me, starting shaking.

I heard a couple of screams from down the street and looked around quickly to assess my chances of survival, in case this turned out to be ‘the big one’. It was just me and a little sapling tree. So we hugged each other, to stay upright and rode out the rocking. Nothing really exciting happened though. No wires coming down, no cars jumping around, thankfully. No big cracks with magma appearing in the middle of the rode. Guess I watch too many movies. (Of course I do.)

That was several years ago. I haven’t felt a big quake since then, not that it was that big even then. This one we felt the other night wasn’t big either. But you can’t really tell when you are close to the epicenter. It feels big enough. You just kind of sit there, holding real still and alert, like a prairie dog, waiting to see if you should jump into action. Things rattled and rocked. Would they come crashing to the floor? Would we lose electricity? Would we, God forbid, have to turn off the gas?(That means knowing where the tool is to turn it off with.) Are we in fact, earthquake prepared?

Not so much.

We occasionally go through and make our plans. Put food and water in the trunks of the cars. Make sure there are flashlights under all the beds. The good kids get ones with batteries in them.

Umm, thats about it really. I guess we figure if ‘the big one’ hits, there’s not much we can do for it anyway. Either the house will crash down around our ears or it wont. Its been around for 60 odd years so far, so my bet is its going to hang around a bit longer.

Now, when I say we sit still and alert, I realize not everyone treats quakes this way. Loads of people go running outside, go running for doorways (which I am still not convinced will do any darn bit of good.) Or just go running.

Afterward its nice to either try to call our relatives to share in the excitement, or if that fails, actually go out and make human contact with the neighbors and rehash the experience.

Which brings me back to muffins. Finally.

Lets get this recipe rolling. Only do not use the dinky frozen wild blueberries I used. Use either fresh ones or frozen larger ones that will have a blueberry impact. The dinky ones just didn’t.

Other than that, I am not really complaining. I didn’t complain much through my first muffin. Only complained a bit through the second muffin. And tried to look inconspicuous while I picked at a third muffin. But that is only between you and me.

I didn’t use muffin cups, but just sprayed the muffin tins. You often loose part of the muffin with the paper cups. Besides, then people can count how many you have eaten. (People meaning myself)

I will also give you the streusel recipe. I just sprinkled some sliced almonds on top, almost as an afterthought, to make it prettier and give it a crunch.

Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted, or vegetable oil or a combination of the two
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream, plain yogurt (or maybe blueberry?) or a combination of the two.Or half buttermilk and half yogurt…
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, rinsed and waiting in the strainer in the sink, turning your sink purple.

Streusel topping

  • 3 Tablespoons each brown and white sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Cooking Directions

  1. First, mix the sugars and cinnamon for the streusel. Add the flour, whisk with a fork and then pour in the melted butter, stirring with the fork until it is crumbly. Too wet? Add a teaspoon more flour. Too dry? Add a bit of melted butter. Set aside
  2. Preheat the oven to 375.
  3. Oil a muffin pan or two. This recipe that should have made 12, actually for me made 15 muffins.
  4. In one large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. This means the flour, baking powder and soda and the cinnamon. (Not the sugar).
  5. In another bowl, put the fats (oil and/or butter) the sugar (also considered a liquid) the egg and yogurt/sour cream/buttermilk. (Todays was a matter of finishing off the yogurt and topping it off with a little buttermilk. I had the sour cream on stand-by but didn’t need it.)
  6. At this time, I, using frozen blueberries, mixed them in with the dry flour mixture.This way the flour helped absorb some of the wet from the thawing blueberries. I did not want to add them to the wet bowl because it would turn the batter grey.
  7. Now mix the wet and dry together. Mix just until the dry does not show and the batter comes together. There will be lumps, thats okay. Of course the lumps could be blueberries. Either way, lumps are okay, while over mixing is not okay. Mixing too much toughens up the muffins.
  8. I use a Pampered Chef scoop to dish them into the muffin cups. Fill the cups up.
  9. Then put the streusel topping on top with a small spoon. Pat it a bit.
  10. Top with a sprinkle of sliced almonds.
  11. Pop into the oven and wait about 18-20 minutes. When you can poke a toothpick in and it comes out fairly clean, they are done.
  12. Remove them from the oven and remove as soon as possible from the pan. Best served warm. Then great when cold. Wonderful the next day.

Now that I am thinking on it, why didn’t the dog bark or the chickens act weird? So much for animal intuition.

Maple Twists

Maple twists of heavenly delight!

First off, it is not really supposed to look this orangy-yellow. It’s just my lighting. Or my camera settings. I am no threat to photographers.

It is actually a golden brown and soft and warm and maple-ish and …excuse me while I go grab another, just to remind myself.

here is a better shot

I found this on Pinterest courtesy of “breakfasts and Breads” who got it from “Fake Ginger” who got it from…who knows. But I am sure glad it is here now to share with you. You and yours will love it for sure. I have, of course, made some adaptations to what I happen to have in my pantry.

Basically it is a sweet dough rolled out into a circle and topped with cinnamon sugar and nuts, cut into petals and twisted, then raise and bake. Here are the details.

Sweet dough: See this post for details. Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg or 2 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 cup good flour more or less

Streusel Center:

  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar ( I used Trader Joes Maple sugar instead, then used white sugar to sprinkle over the top just before baking.)
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts, but pecans would be even better, if you’ve got them)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract (since I used maple sugar, and only had about 3 drops of maple extract left that I wanted to save for the icing, I didn’t use this in the streusel. But that is your call).

Icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

note: I used the sugar, melted butter and milk, but also used real grade b maple syrup in the icing as well as my last few drops of extract. I did not use the vanilla since I did not want to overpower the maple flavor. I may have used a little less milk, but did not measure. Just mixed and added until it was thin enough to easily brush on with a nylon brush.

See the link for making sweet dough. It explains it all there. If you are familiar with doughs, just plunge right in.

For the Streusel, I melt the butter in a saucepan, add the sugars, cinnamon and nuts and mix with a fork. If it looks too wet, add a little  more sugar, white sugar will do.  Let it cool.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each half into a circle, about 12″.

Cover each with the streusel filling. Press into the dough.

Find something (small cup) that is 2 inch across and center it on the circles (press down a little to make a mark). Using scissors or a very sharp knife, cut from the outer edge into the cup mark, making 16 wedges.

Gently life and twist each section 5 times. Tuck the end in just a little so that it stays twisted.

Lightly cover this with plastic wrap and let it rise for about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with a dusting of white sugar.  Bake in a 375 oven for 18-22 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Whisk all glaze ingredients together. Drizzle glaze over warm twists.

Be prepared for the stampede when your family discovers they are ready. They are irresistible when warm. Here is a picture of a leftover crumb  after it has cooled off. It is still great, but warmed up a bit in a toaster oven and it is better than a maple bar donut.

First yellow, now blue, Good grief. Where is my snap-n-shoot?
New batch-new camera setting

Other than being a little blurry, I think I found my problem. Shooting a close up picture with a landscape setting. Duh. This batch I made oblong, and it looks more like an octopus. Or as someone here called it, a giant bear claw. It just needed better lighting. I think I need a class.