Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TWD - Allspice and Cinnamon Crumb Muffins AND a Giveaway!



Would you like cinnamon or...



...allspice?

Kayte, of Grandma's Kitchen Table, is one of my all-time favorite bloggers, and this week she picked the Allspice Crumb Muffins for us to bake. I wasn't sure how I felt about allspice on its own (Dorie mentions that it's reminiscent of cloves, and I am not a huge fan of cloves). I considered making these with nutmeg or cinnamon, but except for subbing dark brown sugar for the light brown, I made the recipe as written.

Well, the first time.

This was a ridiculously simple recipe. Getting the crumb topping to the right crumb-like texture was the hardest part (and one I didn't master). I took them out of the oven and immediately (well, after a few photos) put them in the back of my car and took them to work.




The reaction was very positive, but they didn't thrill me. I had forgotten the salt (if you doubt the importance of salt to the flavor of baked goods, try leaving it out), and my baking powder didn't totally incorporate (even though I mixed and mashed with a spoon), which really annoyed me. I also used my silicone muffin mold that I got on our trip to Paris. Love that thing! The only problem with it is European muffin cups are slightly smaller than those in the U.S., so cramming all of the batter in 12 muffin cups and then adding the topping resulted in the muffins rising over the cups, onto the rim of the muffin mold, and the crumb topping melting and browning all over the tops.


That part was good! I inadvertently created what muffin top pans deliver, but with a muffin attached. They were well received at work, but I was very disappointed that I had little tiny balls of unincorporated baking powder, and I wasn't huge on the allspice. So I resolved to make them again a few days later.

And I did, but this time I used my favorite cinnamon, only more of it, and I sifted the dry ingredients to eliminate the offensive little balls of baking powder (it was easier than trekking off to Safeway to buy another can of baking powder.) I filled the muffin cups less full, utilizing five cups of my other muffin pan. The muffins were a more normal size, with less over run than the others had, but they were infinitely prettier. And since they were made with cinnamon, they were a much bigger hit at home. I finally figured out that just because the crumb topping doesn't form "crumbs," it's not a flaw. In fact, the caramel-y melting of the brown sugar and butter is fantastic, especially with the cinnamon. Thanks, Kayte, for picking such an easy and delicious recipe for us to make this week.

If you're interested in the recipe, check out Kayte's post, or, even better, buy the book Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. What are you waiting for? It has a zillion (actual number, I counted them) fantastic recipes. And then you should join the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers as we work our way through the book. It's a lot of fun and I guarantee you'll learn a lot.

****

I recently went to one of my favorite shops, Penzey's Spices in Menlo Park. It's so much fun to visit Penzey's, and I love their spices. I picked up what I needed, but I also picked up something special for you. Yes, it's my very favorite...


One lucky person will win a 1.7 ounce jar of Penzey's Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cinnamon. This is spicy and assertive, and is wonderful in baking, chai, cinnamon toast, you name it. When I got home, the new Cook's Illustrated was in the mailbox, and they tested cinnamon and, you guessed it, this one came out on top.

If you'd like to win this jar of cinnamon, just leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite way to enjoy cinnamon no later than 9:00 PM Pacific on October 17th.

UPDATE: Cassandra of Foodie with Little Thyme is the winner of the Penzey's Vietnamese Cinnamon! Thanks to everyone who shared their favorite way to enjoy cinnamon. I now have a lot of great new ways to try it.

25 comments:

Pamela said...

I've really gotta try these with the cinnamon. I thought about it while I was making them and just followed the recipe instead. I just bought some of this cinnamon from Penzey's but I haven't used it yet!

Clivia said...

I've never heard of baking powder clumping. Do you sift? Both photos look really delicious. I couldn't choose.
I love cinnamon donuts! Those big puffy Greman style donuts with a whipped cream filling. If you roll them in cinnamon when they're hot, it sticks all over and makes a yummy crust.

vibi said...

I keep seeing that beautiful plate on different blogs... phew! Okay... it's not as nice as those great muffins of yours... but hey! I'm always on the look out for nice tableware! LOL

Nancy/n.o.e said...

I'll take one muffin of each type - can't possibly pick without tasting, right? I just ran out of my Vietnamese cinnamon, so trying Penzey's would be handy right about now. I love cinnamon toast the best, but last night I roasted a chicken with cinnamon and it was interesting.

Kim said...

I would probably like the cinnamon muffin more. They both look delicious though. Penzeys is my favorite. I love just wandering around in the store. My favorite would be snickerdoodles. Yummy.

chocolatechic said...

I couldn't say a favorite way to use cinnamon, but one way that I love is to add just a pinch of it of it to hot chocolate.

Your muffins look wonderful.

delightfullysweet said...

Oh another way to make these muffins! I love the fact that you can just change the spice (I am thinking of making it with a pumpkin spice) and you come up with a completely new muffin!

Lovely muffins!

Ashley said...

I love cinnamon in just about everything. I use it daily in my coffee...it just adds a little something extra.

Karen said...

I will have to try these with connamon as well. They look great. :) Favorite way to enjoy cinnamon...hmm...cinnamon toast I think!

Kayte said...

Ooh, always love research, first comparing the two muffins, then all about cinnamon comparisons. I learn a lot over here every week. Interesting, too, about the size of the muffin cups in Europe compared to here...you are a wealth of information! I think both your muffins look great and I would love to be served either. Happy you ended up liking the cinnamon ones. Thanks for baking with me!

bakingwiththeboys said...

I thought about adding cinnamon chips to these but I am thinking a straight cinnamon muffin sounds good. I love cinnamon with sauteed apples. yum.

natalia said...

Ciao ! I love your comparison ! They both look delicious !! I love cinnamon in apple strudel but I live too far away !!

TeaLady said...

Cinnamon OR allspice. Not fair. Want both. Those look sooo tasty.

My favorite way to use cinnamon is in Cinnamon rolls. BBA cinnamon rolls to be exact. Make them often now and always a hit.

spike. said...

Those muffins look and sound great (both versions). I love penzey's! I love cinnamon when combined with chocolate in any baked good, ice cream, or hot beverage.

Jules Someone said...

Nice looking muffins! I love cinnamon in just about anything. These days it cinnamon/sugar nuts.

Sweet and Savory said...

I agree with you. I would not like it with aht allspice only. I love cinnamon and would immediately have gone with it, particularly after reading your post.

I can see it being good with the seasoning of preference.

I am not writing this for the giveaway. I just wanted you to know that I am in agreement with you.

Jennifer said...

YUM! These look delicious!!!!

margot said...

Two batches, very impressive! The muffin tops look great! Favorite way to enjoy cinnamon? I like it in apple desserts.

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

They both look wonderful but I'm not much of an allspice girl so cinnamon please. Oatmeal cookies are my favorite with cinnamon.

pinkstripes said...

How cool that you made them again with the cinnamon.

My fave way to use cinnamon is sprinkled in my morning coffee with milk.

carmencooks said...

I was thinking while baking that cinnamon would be GREAT in this recipe.

I love cinnamon in so many things .. especially snickerdoodles, which I just made yesterday! :)

Megan said...

Cinnamon is one of my favorite spices - I'm thinking about making rice pudding for my dad and adding cinnamon on top. He loves it that way.

bakewithus said...

Great idea on the cinnamon, it is my favorite spice. I am partial to cinnamon buns myself. I didn't think that I was going to like the allspice-ness of these but I actually did. But I think I am going to use cinnamon the next time upon your suggestion.

AmyRuth said...

Ah lucky you to have a Penzey's so close? ( or not) Closest store is a couple of hours, I think. Love Vietnamese cinnamon. How nice that you are bringing it to us to chance. yippee. Okay, I'm looking forward to having the muffins a la Dorie. W/fat. he he Sorry ;you had complications w/baking pwdr. Sifting really does help mix as well as whisking. I like the sifter a lot just to get the chunks out. Cinnamon: fresh strawberries, fat free vanilla yogurt and cinnamon sometimes with kashi cereal that's a late night snack. Then there are home made cinnamon rolls. yep
AmyRuth

toughprettygirl said...

I love to find things that I can sub. allspice for cinnamon. I am highly allergic to cinnamon.