TWD: Buttermilk Crumb Muffins

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It’s Tuesdays With Dorie. This is a group of 400+ bakers around the world, baking their way through Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking With Julia.  This week’s recipe, Buttermilk Crumb Muffins sorta saved my bacon.  Here’s what happened.

My mother-in-law is visiting us. She is an 80-something, southern born and raised women.  These days she lives in Illinois but her heart remains in Tennessee.  Knowing how much she loves cornbread I stirred up a batch to serve alongside a pot of vegetable soup for Sunday supper.  We even added a few family members around the table.  I put together the cornbread, preheated the cast iron skillet in the oven and with little more than a thought, baked it.  I’ve done this many, many times.  Twenty-five minutes later I pulled out a mess of dense, greasy suppose-to-be cornbread. It was awful. I have no idea what I did or didn’t do but it was not edible. 🙁  Moral of the story: Yankees can’t make southern cornbread. NO! say it isn’t so!

The rest of the story involves a recipe by the late Marion Cunningham, featured by Julia Childs and included by Dorie Greenspan in her cookbook, Baking With Julia. Surely these three famous bakers can help me salvage what is left of my pride and show my mother-in-law a decent breakfast. I like baking with buttermilk (although it didn’t help my cornbread!) and the “crumb” muffin top always peaks my interest.  Early this morning, while the family still slept I crept to the kitchen and assembled these ingredients.

The recipe starts out with flour and 2 cups of brown sugar. That amount of sugar surprised me but at this point I am following the recipe to the letter. I am not deviating one little bit. “Vegetable shortening” is the fat of choice for these delectable muffins.  I used ½ cup butter flavored Crisco and 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter to equal 2/3 cup.  I prefer all butter but wasn’t going to chance the change. I started out using my pastry cutter and quickly discarded it, put on a pair of gloves and went to work turning the dry ingredients and shortening into “crumb”!  Before the batter is made I set aside a bit of the “crumb” to use for topping.

I did make one itsy bitsy addition to half of the batch. My mother-in-law loves black walnuts and my Chief Culinary Consultant spends many tedious winter hours harvesting the little nuts.  The end result is a couple of quarts of black walnut meats more priceless than gold  🙂 It is such a process I quickly lose interest and I don’t care for the taste — but not so for the Chief.  So from his priceless stash I added a couple handfuls of nuts to half of the muffin batter.  I am hoping to score grace points for this little addition 🙂
The muffin tins are filled 2/3 full and topped with a sprinkling of crumb.  They bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
Guess what happened? Thanks to Marion, Julia, and Dorie my buttermilk muffins were an awesome hit with the whole family. My sous-chef-dish-washing mom says she wants  a muffin every morning with breakfast. My mother-in-law really enjoyed the black walnuts in her muffins and the Chief especially appreciated fresh, hot muffins filled with one of his favorite nuts!

Sometimes it does take a village! Me? – I am just hoping these beautiful treats erase the memory of some really yucky cornbread 🙂  I will certainly make this recipe again.

Thank you Lisa from Easier Than Pie for hosting this week’s recipe.  You will find the recipe in full on her website.

I hope your week is filled with sweet treats sprinkled with a few little nuts.

~Blessings, Catherine

P.S. A little nugget of info included in the recipe:  Half-fill any empty muffin molds with water — this will help the muffins bake evenly.  I didn’t know that! 🙂

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