Allspice crumb muffins

Muffins are those that fall under the category of Quick Breads because they don’t need the long fermentation time that traditional yeast- risen breads require. Instead, quick bread recipes rely upon chemical leaveners – baking soda and baking power – for their rise, and once the batter is mixed, it goes directly into the oven.

There are three mixing methods for quick bread and this recipe here uses the Muffin Method. It is sometimes called the quick-bread method and this technique involves blending the dry ingredients in one bowl and the other liquid ingredients in another and then combining the two just until moistened. You want to mix until no streaks of flour or pools of liquid remain. Don’t worry too much about lumps remaining in the batter; they’ll disappear during the baking process. Be careful not to overmix! Should you do so, the muffins or quick bread will be tough and chewy and you will see some tunneling in the crumb – a sure sign that too much gluten was developed during mixing.

Good muffins have a slightly uneven, coarse texture.

So, these are breakfast for today. What’s yours?

From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From my Home to Yours (makes 12)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground allspice
5 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 lemon (optional)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.
Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular sized muffin tin or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

To make the streusel:
Put the flour, brown sugar, and allspice in a small bowl and sift them through your fingers to blend. Add the bits of cold butter into the dry ingredients and toss to coat, then use your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until you’ve got irregularly shaped crumbs. Set aside in the refrigerator. (You can make the crumbs up to 3 days ahead and keep them covered in the fridge.)

To make the muffins:
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice and salt. Stir in the brown sugar, making certain there are no lumps. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the melted butter, eggs, milk and vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, quickly but gently stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough- the batter will be lumpy and that’s the way it should be. Stir in the lemon zest, if using. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle some streusel over each muffin, then use your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

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