The flavor of them is absolutely delicious, and in my opinion, a perfect balance of sugar and spice. The original recipe used nutmeg, but I used cinnamon since I didn't have any and I definitely recommend using cinnamon whether you have nutmeg or not! The vanilla bean gave them a nice vanilla flavor, and of course, those lovely looking vanilla seeds spread throughout. And the texture was nice and soft and fluffy. I think these might have just become one of my favorite muffins! I was a little skeptical because the recipe only used an egg white, and I never really see that too often in recipes (usually when a recipe only uses part of an egg, it uses the yolk), but they were so delicious, and hey, the egg yolk is the one part of the egg that contains fat and cholesterol, so I'm not complaining that the recipe didn't include it! Especially being as I ate 3 of the 4 muffins, 2 of them in quick succession! Ack! Maybe them being so delicious isn't such a good thing, ha ha. :)
Vanilla Spice Crumb Cakes (Adapted from Small-Batch Baking by Debby Maugans Nakos. No copyright infringement intended)
The recipe stated it made 3 jumbo muffins, but I made regular muffins and got 4.
- 1 piece of vanilla bean (about 3 inches), or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used cinnamon, and like I said, I really recommend it!)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- White of 1 medium egg (I actually just used the white of an extra large egg, since that was what I had)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease only the bottoms of 3 jumbo muffin cups and set muffin pan aside. (I thought these directions were rather curious. I'm not sure what the purpose is, but I just used paper/foil liners and it was just fine. As I said, if you're using a regular muffin tin, you should get 4).
- Split the vanilla bean lengthwise by slicing down one edge with the tip of a sharp knife. Open the bean and scrape the seeds into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the granulated and brown sugars to the bowl and mix well with a fork. Add the flour, salt, and nutmeg (or cinnamon), and mix with a fork until well combined. Add the butter and mix with the fork, or with your fingertips, until the mixture is crumbly (I quickly found out that fingers definitely work best). Set aside 1/4 cup of the crumb mixture for the topping.
- Place the buttermilk and baking soda in a small bowl. Whisk in the egg white until it is well blended. Pour the buttermilk mixture over the remaining dry ingredients and mix with a fork until just combined.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it evenly among them. Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture evenly over the batter and press in lightly with your fingertips. Fill the empty muffin cups halfway with water to prevent them from scorching.
- Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes (She must have a magic oven or something. I baked regular-sized muffins and they weren't done until about 20 minutes).
- Cool slightly in pans and then remove to wire racks. Serve warm or at room temperature. Cakes can be wrapped in foil and placed in a plastic freezer bag for up to a month or store any leftovers (which I doubt there will be) wrapped at room temperature for up to 2 days.