Cardamom Crumb Muffins

May 30, 2014


Cardamom might be the most underappreciated spice out there. Sure, it’s expensive, but not, like, saffron expensive. And a lot of people think it’s this incredibly exotic, inaccessible Indian spice. Exotic? Perhaps. Inaccessible? Pshaw! It has the most amazing perfume, but not overpowering. I made these muffins following Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for allspice crumb muffins (from Baking: From My House to Yours), subbing the cardamom for the allspice. They were a big hit, and I suspect if I had used cardamom that wasn’t a bazillion years old (such as, freshly ground!), they would have been even more scrumptious. They’re very easy, so make them this weekend!

Cardamom Crumb Muffins

For the Streusel:

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

3/4  teaspoon ground cardomom

5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

For the Muffins:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1 stick  unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon  vanilla extract

Grated zest of 1 lemon


Prep: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper cups (or use ungreased silicone muffin pan without paper cups).  Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Streusel:  Combine the flour, brown sugar and cardamom in a small bowl.  Add the bits of cold butter and toss or cut in with a pastry cutter to get irregularly shaped crumbs.  Refrigerate until muffins are ready.

Muffins:  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom and salt.  Stir in the brown sugar, braking down large lumps.  In another bowl, whisk the melted butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla together until well combined.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, stir gently but quickly.  Add the lemon zest. The batter will be lumpy.  Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.  Sprinkle some streusel over each muffin, then gently press the crumbs into the batter with your fingers.

Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.  Cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the muffins from the pan.

Peanut Butter and Banana Cake (aka “Elvis Cake”)

January 1, 2008


My buddy Brooks is a cake man, pure and simple. Oh, he likes a pie now and then, but if he wants to put together a celebratory dessert, it’s cake. I’ve always argued with him about the merits of the humble pie. Fruit or pudding in a crust — it’s so simple, but so pure. But he wouldn’t budge. “Cake is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega — all that there ever was in the world of desserts.” OK, he never said that, but he might have.

I’ve always been a fan of pies, but over this holiday season, all we made for dessert was cake. For Christmas it was a brown sugar pound cake, and today, my 12 year old daughter and I made an “Elvis Cake.” Yes, it was a banana cake with peanut butter icing. And I must say that of the 9 pieces served after dinner, there wasn’t a crumb remaining. It was a special, but incredibly simple cake.

I got the cake recipe from the wonderful Dorie Greenspan and her book, Baking: From my home to yours. It’s an incredibly adaptable cake. I encourage you to get this cookbook, as it’s one of my all-time favorites. Of course, I don’t have a recipe for the icing. To be completely honest, I initially made the cake with Marshmallow Fluff between the layers, frosted with the peanut butter icing. But the Fluff was too fluid and actually oozed out through the icing. Not a pretty sight. So I took the cake apart, scraped off most (but not all) of the Fluff, and re-frosted it. Mmm, it was mighty good. Not all that pretty, but damn tasty. Would have made The King very proud.

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