2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening (used Smart Balance 50/50 Butter Blend)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup crème fraîche* (see note for substitution)
1/3 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, well beaten, at room temperature
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line with paper cups two 12-cup muffin tins, or if you have them, use one 12-cup and one 6-cup muffin tin.
Put the flour and brown sugar into a large bowl and stir with your fingers or fork to mix well.
Break the shortening into little pieces, drop them in the flour mixture, and using your fingertips, lightly rub the shortening and the flour together. Mix until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs or sand. Don’t worry about any little lumps. Measure out 1/2 cup and set aside to use later on as crumb topping.
Add the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt to the flour mixture and stir well with a fork.
Add the crème fraîche, whole milk, and eggs. Using a large spatula, mix just until the ingredients are blended and the batter is thick, but do not over mix.
Spoon or scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins, about two-thirds full. I used OXO large cookie/ice cream scooper [3 tablespoon capacity] to measure out even portions.
Sprinkle the top of each muffin with a scant teaspoon of the reserved crumb topping each. Also, half-fill any empty muffin molds with water – this will help the muffins bake evenly.**
Bake them for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Serve warm.***
*crème fraîche substitution – replace 2/3 cup crème fraîche and 1/3 cup whole milk with 1 cup (8 oz) buttermilk.
**I found that using dark coloured non-stick pans tend to yield darker end product, so if using non-stick, bake closer to 25 minutes. If using aluminum, bake closer to 30-minute mark.
***This is best served warm. The muffins tend to stiffen up when cool, so heat the muffins for 10 seconds in the microwave oven before serving – this makes the muffins tender and soft.
*I got a tub of crème fraîche and I didn’t know what to do with then I found a perfect recipe from Tartine and Apron Strings. When it’s raining outside I always feel like baking. Both my kids are restless and when I say “who wants to help mommy bake?” both of them are very eager to help. The best part is the house feels warm and filled with freshly baked goodies.
So, is it cupcake or muffin?? Both love them but my eldest son always know and reminds me “Mommy it’s not a cupcake, it’s a muffin”. Jen of Tartine and Apron Strings explained what is the difference between the two:
- cupcakes are made with butter; muffins are made with oil or shortening.
- cupcakes are, essentially, cakes; muffins are a type of bread.
- cupcakes require creaming butter and sugar together so the batter blends thoroughly; muffins do not need creaming and the batter, ideally, left lumpy.
Source: Tartine and Apron Strings