Yummy muffins are great to have on hand to snack on while fixing a shower stall (changing the caulking and re-grouting). They are a pretty good form of self-bribery. Grout, and then you get a muffin! The other day I wondered, if I had more money, would I still be the one doing the dirty work? I think the answer is yes because I really love the satisfaction of knowing that I challenged myself to do something, and then I actually followed through, all by myself. It's such a great feeling. I love that sense of accomplishment.
When I was in the second grade, my teacher would give us "bon points" (I guess the translation from French would be "good points"). They were essentially simple little squares of yellow cardboard with a smiley face stamped on each with red ink. We'd also get gold stars when we did well. We collected the bon points in our desks, and when we got ten of them, I think we traded them in for gold stars, and possibly even a shiny rock, or some candy from the teacher, like mint liquorice. Mint liquorice is disgusting, but when I was awarded a piece in class from my teacher, it was the best thing in the world. We also earned gold stars if we achieved something really impressive in class. The gold stars were actually stickers. My teacher made up this huge board with the names of all of us, me and my classmates, and she would stick the gold stars next to our names, every time we earned one.
The bon points and gold stars were a way of motivating us, and it worked very well on me. Apparently, I came home one day and declared to my mom that I wanted to be the one with the most gold stars next to my name. That was my goal. So, I set out to be the one with the most gold stars all on my own. I have no idea why this was so important to me. I guess I'm just a keener, or maybe I just love stars (and green liquorice?). I don't know if I was the top of my class that year. Ever since then, I have always had the attitude that I can do anything, if I try hard enough. It may not be perfect, but I can try really, really hard.
As an adult, I no longer recite the alphabet backwards, from Z to A, for a gold star. At this point in life, my challenges involve things like home renovation projects. I'm still the kind of girl with that "can-do" attitude, after all these years, but the reward is the feeling I hold in my heart when I've accomplished something by myself. And, maybe I give myself a muffin too... I google how a project should be done, go to Home Depot to buy the supplies, and then return home to do it. If the wire on a lamp of mine is old, frayed, and disintegrating, I will take it apart and rewire the lamp. If the light in my stove hood doesn't turn on anymore, I open up the hood to figure out why. Remember, when I had trouble changing the lightbulbs in my tracklight? Well, after months of sporadic and angered trial and error, now I know how (I seem to have a lot of issues with lights, but anyways....). This week, I am regrouting and changing the caulking of my shower stall. As usual, I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, but I'm following this and that, and so far, so good. I know that I can get the job done by myself, if I set my mind to it.
This muffin recipe was inspired by a cake recipe Delicious (UK) magazine. I truly love this magazine. I continue to buy it monthly, even though the price is crazy high because it's an import magazine. I usually make several recipes from every issue, so I know it's a good buy, and, really, it just makes me happy! Some girls buy pretty shoes, I buy Old Navy $1 flip-flops and Delicious magazine. That's just the way I roll.
Sometimes, while browsing through a magazine, I see a recipe that I want to make, but I`m not happy with the ingredients listed or the method of preparation, so I try to improve upon it. It`s not that the original recipe is bad (far from it), but rather that it`s just not how I`d do it. So, I make it my own, with a few tweaks and adjustments here and there.
I took the cake recipe (page 78 of the March 2011 issue) and turned it into muffins. I sprinkled in some cinnamon. I also added Quebec strawberries to go with the rhubarb because both are in season right now, and I think they should be celebrated because they are a great match, just like they are wonderful on their own. I especially loved the suggested method for making the crumble topping (melt the butter, with the sugars, then stir in the flour, transfer to a bowl, and let cool, then crumble it over your cake). I think I'll make all my crumble toppings this way from now on.
My cake-turned-muffins experiment worked out perfectly, yielding incredibly light and flavorful muffins. The ground almonds (with their skins) bring a lovely nuttiness and caramel color to them. I love the hint of cinnamon in the crumble topping, and I adore the combination of rhubarb and strawberries. These muffins are a lovely ode to the spring fruits that are in season in Quebec, and a great reward for every little achievement in my little shower-reno project. They're not exactly gold stars or mint liquorice, but I'll work hard for them just the same.
Strawberry rhubarb crumble muffins
Makes 12 muffins
For the crumble topping
- 25 grams unsalted butter
- 13 grams light brown sugar
- 20 grams granulated sugar
- 50 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 150 grams washed and trimmed rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 125 grams strawberries, hulled and chopped in half or quarters (depending on how big they are)
- 50 grams granulated sugar
- 2 tsp all-purpose flour
- 6 tsp sour cream
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100 grams all-purpose flour
- 50 grams ground almonds(I ground raw almonds with the skin on)
- 100 grams granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 75 grams unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a a 12-muffin pan (or two 6-muffin pans) with muffin cups. Set aside.
- For the crumble topping, in a small saucepan, melt the butter and the sugar. Add the flour, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla, and stir until the mixture is combined to make a paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl to cool completely. Set aside for later.
- For the fruits, in a medium bowl, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and flour. Stir so that the the fruits are evenly coated with flour and sugar. Set aside, stirring every so often to redistribute the ingredients.
- For the muffin batter, in a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Set these wet ingredients aside while you prepare the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Then, add the melted butter to the dry ingredients, and mix it in to combine. Then, add the wet ingredients. Stir the mixture. If you can't get the lumps out, give it a good mix with a hand-held mixer. Add the macerated fruit, and stir them in so that your batter is nice and even.
- Assemble the muffins by filling the muffin cups until the batter reaches a half-centimeter from the top of the cup (you should have exactly enough for 12). Crumble the crumble topping with your fingers over each muffin.
- Bake the muffins for about 18 minutes (check with a cake tester to be sure they're done).