Saturday, November 1, 2014

I'm Back!

 I admit it: I’ve been bad. It’s been a little over a year since my last post to this blog. But I have a suitcase full of excuses at the ready. First and foremost, I was working on my next book, which will be published in the fall of 2015. As you can imagine, cookbooks are a lot of work and eat up a good deal of time. There’s shopping, testing

(sometimes multiple times), writing and, finally, propping, styling and photography. Next the manuscript needs to be edited, copy-edited and proofed. Phew – I’m exhausted just thinking about all that work. The good news is that my book is almost done and I’m ready to get back to blogging on a regular basis. Thanks for bearing with me.

There are some wonderful new cookbook releases this fall, including a long-awaited book, The Baking Bible, from my friend Rose Levy Beranbaum. Rose is the most meticulous baker and recipe writer I know. Her recipes are not only wonderful, they are also foolproof. Rose has a real knack for including every important detail in her

recipes, taking the guesswork out of the baking process and ensuring success every time. Glancing through The Baking Bible, my only quandary is deciding which recipe to make – I want to eat them all. The recipe  that caught my eye this time is the one for Rose’s Coffee Crumb Cake Muffins. Baked in a Texas size muffin pan,

these individual coffee cakes are incredibly tender, and each has a hidden ring of apple inside. Ideal for a weekend brunch or afternoon snack with a cup of Joe or tea. They also freeze well, so make a double batch now and have them on hand for the holidays.

Coffee Crumb Cake Muffins
From The Baking Bible (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014; $40) by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Makes 6 muffins

Special Equipment: Six large cupcake liners set in a Texas size muffin pan or large custard cups (1 cup capacity)

Crumb Topping:
½ cup (1.8 oz/50 g) walnut halves
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons (1.3 oz/36 g) light brown Muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon (0.5 oz/13 g) granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon (1.6 grams) ground cinnamon
¼ cup (1 oz/30 g) bleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (1 oz/28 g) unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 small tart apple, such as Granny Smith
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/3 cup (2.9 oz/81 g) sour cream, divided
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (3.5 oz/100 g) bleached cake flour
½ cup (3.5 oz/100 g) superfine sugar
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons (3 oz/85 g) unsalted butter, softened

Make the topping:
1. In a food processor, pulse the walnuts, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon until the walnuts are coarsely chopped. Remove ¼ cup (1 oz/30 g) to use for the filling.
2. To the remainder, add the flour, butter, and vanilla and pulse briefly to form a coarse, crumbly mixture for the topping. Scrape it into a medium bowl and refrigerate for about 10 minutes to firm up the butter to make it easier to crumble for the topping.
3. Use your fingers to pinch together the refrigerated crumb topping, breaking up the larger pieces so that about one-third of the mixture is formed into small clumps and the rest is in small particles.

Make the batter:
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a Texas size muffin pan with six large cupcake liners.
5. Just before mixing the batter, peel, core and slice the apple into rings 1/8 inch thick. Use a fingertip to dab the slices with the lemon juice.
6. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, 1 ½ tablespoons of the sour cream, and the vanilla, just until lightly combined.
7. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 ½ minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
8. Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
9. Spoon the batter (2.3 oz/64 g) into each of the prepared liners. The liners will be about half full. Sprinkle each with 2 teaspoons of the crumb filling. With a small metal spatula or spoon, fold the crumb filling into the batter with three or four strokes. Set an apple slice on top of each and press it down so that some of the batter rises up a little above the slice. Smear it across the top of the slice. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the crumb topping evenly over the top of each muffin and use your fingers to press it down gently.
10. Bake the muffins for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean and the muffins spring back when pressed lightly in the centers.
11. Cool the muffins in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove them from the pans and set them on a wire rack. Cool completely. Store in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerated for up to 5 days.. The muffins can be frozen for up to 2 months.
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