Since I make muffins on a regular basis, I’m usually on the lookout for a good muffin recipe. I’ve got tons of baking books, so I know I’ve got many muffin recipes, but sometimes I don’t feel like looking through all of my books to find a new recipe for my weekend breakfast staple. Luckily, Amazon answered the call when I found this book online: 750 Best Muffin Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury. This isn’t the kind of cookbook I normally buy. This is a very no frills volume – no fancy pictures, and heavy on pages and pages of simple black text in unexciting fonts. But, boy, what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in ideas and good recipes. Plus, I find it incredibly handy to have on hand a volume that can throw a ton of ideas my way when I’m in a rush on Sunday morning to whip up a breakfast treat amongst towering piles of laundry waiting to be done, bathrooms needing to be cleaned and meal planning under way for the busy week ahead.
The author doesn’t fall short on creativity. She provides recipes for breakfast classics, but also gives a good list of savoury muffins, while catering to more modern tastes with vegan, gluten-free and superfood varieties too. She also has a chapter on coffeehouse muffins, farmers’ market muffins and global muffins, where I found this butter tart version which she created in memory of her mother, who was raised in Manitoba and grew up eating butter tarts.
This recipe is simple – you’ve got a basic muffin topped with a simple strudel. The strudel is nothing short of spectacular, and the addition of raisins is something I quite like, as it adds more texture to an otherwise plain muffin batter. My raisins were a bit dry so I took the liberty of soaking them in some rum which I heated in the microwave oven for a minute, to help plump up my wrinkled fruit. So I guess I could call my version Rum Raisin Butter Tart Muffins, right? Whether you stick to the original recipe below, or modify it as I did, you will be rewarded with a lovely breakfast treat, loaded with classic butter tart flavours – brown sugar, raisins and nuts. How lovely.
This recipe comes from Camilla V. Saulsbury's book, 750 Best Muffin Recipes. She advises that there is quite a bit of topping, but this is by design, to capture the butterscotch flavour of butter tarts.
Instead of dried currants, I used Sun Maid raisins. I soaked them in a quarter cup of warm Flor De Cana rum, and wasn't disappointed. I added both the soaking liquid and the raisins to the batter, and it was a success!
If you don't have cake flour, you can google ingredient substitutions online. While I haven't tried it, you can substitute 2 tbsp of cornstarch for every cup of all purpose flour that you need in a recipe that calls for cake flour. Personally, I keep a bag of cake flour on hand at all times in my pantry. I bake often enough to make it worth my while, and I do have to say that the strusel topping was phenomenal, and well worth using the cake flour.
If you don't have buttermilk, do what I always do and add a teaspoon of vinegar to the measuring cup before adding milk. Let it sit for a few minutes until the milk thickens and curdles a bit. Works perfectly well in place of fresh buttermilk.
- 1 1/4 cups cake flour
- 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup softened butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup dried currants
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.
- For the topping: In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, walnuts and salt. Mix in butter until combined and crumbly. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Muffins: In another medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Beat in buttermilk and vanilla until blended.
- Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and, using a wooden spoon, stir until just blended. Gently fold in the currants.
- Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups. Crumble topping into pea-size pieces and sprinkle over batter in cups.
- Bake for 21 to 24 minutes or until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to the rack to cool.