Is it a sticky bun? Is it a muffin? Yes it is! The flavors of coffee cake, the texture of a muffin, and the gooey goodness found on sticky buns. Oh yeah, this is a honey of a morning treat!
Coffee cake is one of my favorite breakfast treats, especially when I have guests spending the night. There is nothing better than waking up to the aroma of sweet cakes baking in the oven. The scents of cinnamon and ginger tickle the noses of everyone in the house and gently nudge them awake. Soon you have a happy crowd in the kitchen, sipping coffee and anxiously waiting for the coffee cake to be cool enough to eat. It’s the best way to start the day!
In a perfect world where we each have a private pastry chef in our kitchens, we could wake up to fresh cinnamon rolls, croissants, pastries, and breads every day. Unfortunately that isn’t the reality most of us live in. That’s where coffee came comes in. Because it isn’t yeast risen, we can still have our sweet treats in a fraction of the time. God bless baking soda and baking powder!
One of the things about baking that I took for granted was using baking powder and/or baking soda (in old recipes you’ll often find it listed as just “soda”) in nearly every recipe. I always followed along without really thinking about it. One day my curiosity got the better of me and I dug a little deeper, wanting to know why sometimes we see them together and sometimes separately. What amazing substances they both are!
While baking powder and baking soda are both leaveners, they are actually quite different in how they behave and their functionality. Baking soda is about 3 times more powerful than baking powder which is why we normally see a smaller amount of soda in relation to baking powder in recipes. Baking soda requires an acid to activate it … besides the usual suspects (buttermilk, citrus, sour cream, vinegar) you might be surprised to know that brown sugar, molasses, honey, applesauce, chocolate, and cocoa powder (natural not Dutch-process) are all acids. Who knew? Without enough acid in your recipe, your baking soda will not be fully neutralized leaving you with a metallic or soapy aftertaste.
Baking powder, on the other hand, already has acid added to it, stabilizing the reaction time (double-acting) and eliminating the requirement to have acids in your baked goods. Baking soda will react as soon as liquid is added so get it in the oven quickly. Double-acting baking powder works in two ways. It begins its leavening when it hits liquid, and the second part is heat activated. So you will see bubbles when you are mixing the batter together and pour it into your baking pans, and then a second rise occurs in the oven giving you beautiful baked cakes and muffins.
The secret of leavening is balance ~ too much of one or the other will wreak havoc and have you pulling your hair out. Never second guess a recipe unless you are sure you know what you are doing. The balance of the two is crucial for perfect leavening as well as flavor and browning. There is much more chemistry involved, but this will give you the basic understanding of how the two work in recipes. For more detailed information check out Sally’s Baking Addition and Fine Cooking. This is one chemistry experiment I normally leave to the experts. 😉
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming …
Because we are going to be on the go a lot this week, instead of baking the coffee cake in a regular pan, I decided to turn the cake into muffins. This way we get individual coffee cakes, perfect for a breakfast on the run or to wrap for an afternoon snack. And just cuz, I used jumbo muffin pans (sometimes called Texas muffin pans) for a change of pace. Plus this way I can have just one and be fully satisfied instead of eating three regular-size muffins – I’m saving calories! LOL
One of my favorite tricks is to put part of the streusel topping in the center of the cakes and the rest on top, creating a soft, sweet, gooey surprise when you cut into your giant muffin. It’s always fun to have sweetness running through every bite.
I made the mistake (again) of trying to fit all the batter in just 6 jumbo muffin cups despite my better judgment and the voice of experience whispering in my ear. Consequently, it took them much longer to cook through and they didn’t turn out pretty like I would have liked, but they are still delicious. Be smarter than me and spread this out over 9 jumbo muffin cups.
Give these muffins a try or bake them in a 9×13-inch pan for a cake version. I know you will love them and your family will beg you to make them again, just like The Artist does in our home.
Happy Chocolate Monday!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
It is always advisable to scrape the bowl and beater blade(s) several times whenever you are making doughs and batters in your standing mixer. But especially when you are adding grated zest. Even after scraping the beater four times during mixing, I still found clumps of zest when I did the final scraping before scooping the batter into the tins. Use a rubber spatula and mix in any unincorporated ingredients into the batter before portioning it out.
I use my regular gluten-free flour blend which has xanthan in it, or the flour blend I developed for the cookbook (coming out this October, see how I worked that in, LOL) and add 1/4 tsp xanthan or 1/2 tsp psyllium husk powder to the dry ingredients.
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- 3 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 3 tbsp oats (gluten-free if needed)
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, optional
- 1 stick (8 tbsp) butter, softened
- 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp finely grated orange zest
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (use gluten-free flour blend, if needed)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- With a rack in the center of the oven, preheat to 350°F. Butter the nonstick jumbo muffin tins very well. Yes, butter them even if they are nonstick pans!
- Make the Streusel: In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt together. Use a fork to cut the butter into the mixture until there are some chunks and the rest is sandy. Add the oats, chopped nuts, and white chocolate; stir until the mixture is blended and all ingredients are evenly distributed. Set aside.
- Prepare the Muffin Batter: Place the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat on medium-low until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until completely incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the zest. Once blended, increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom. Add the flour mixture, 1/3 at a time, alternating with 1/2 of the sour cream between each addition, to the butter/sugar mixture, mixing on low speed. Beat until fully incorporated between each addition. When all the dry ingredients and sour cream have been added, increase speed to medium to lighten the batter, another 30 seconds, then add the white chocolate chips and mix just until they are evenly distributed.
- Bake the Muffins: Use a spring-loaded ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measuring cup to evenly divide the batter between the buttered muffin tins. Filling each one about 1/3 full. Sprinkle some of the streusel over the top of each muffin. Add another dollop of batter to the muffin tins, filling each one no more than 2/3 full, spreading the batter to cover the center streusel layer. Then add the rest of the streusel on the tops.
- Transfer the tins onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (in case of spill-overs) and slip into the hot oven. Bake until risen, the tops are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes. (Mine took longer because I overfilled my tins.) Remove from the oven and if the batter has spread over the top of the pan (like mine did), separate each top to make it easier to remove them.
- Let rest in the pan 10 to 15 minutes. Slide a very thin metal spatula (a small offset works well here) under the edges to loosen them. Place a wire rack on the top and holding the pan and rack together at the edges, quickly flip them together to invert the muffins. They should fall out of the pan, but you can give them a nudge if needed. Scoop the "sticky" topping from the bottom of the tins to the tops of the muffins. Sprinkle a few extra white chocolate chips on the tops if you want before serving.
- If you used gluten-free flour, let them cool completely before serving because they are very delicate.
- Yield: about 9 jumbo muffins
Create a New Tradition Today!
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