This week for Tuesdays with Dorie, the recipe was Buttermilk Crumb Muffins. I looked forward to making these, though I must admit that I’m not a big fan of muffins. I can take ‘em or leave ‘em. But I thought these would be nice because of the simple flavors involved: brown sugar and cinnamon and buttermilk. The inclusion of buttermilk was really what drew me in. I’m a sucker for buttermilk.

I meant to make these to go with dinner, but we got stuck in traffic and were later than usual in getting home, and I was making baked grits, which took about 40 minutes in the oven. So I made them after dinner, figuring we could eat them for breakfast this week.

There was some discussion about how unhealthy this recipe is. Honestly, I don’t expect much from muffins in the “good-for-you” department, which is one reason I don’t eat them very often. I grew up baking with Crisco and butter and cupfuls of brown sugar and all-purpose flour, and these things don’t bother me. But I can also let go of them and go for healthier options when I feel like it. For one thing, I don’t use Crisco anymore. I have a huge tub of vegan non-hydrogenated shortening in my cupboard, and that’s probably all I’ll use from now on. I try to replace some AP flour with whole-wheat when I can. And yes, I do use applesauce in place of fats. In this case, I also used less brown sugar than was called for, but that was entirely accidental.

What I’m saying is, a baked goodie a week isn’t going to kill me off any faster than the bacon we had with dinner last night, so I’ll do what I can with what I’ve got. As far as these muffins go, I’ve seen (and eaten) less healthier ones. Some were delicious, others not so much. For today, let’s just focus on the buttermilk crumb muffins.

These were . . . acceptable.

That’s not much of an endorsement, is it? The truth is, they’re not very flavorful. The cinnamon and nutmeg get lost in the blandness of the shortening and the flour. I cut back on the all-purpose flour and added whole-wheat, but you can’t tell that at all in regards to flavor, because there is none. Not a hint of the warm coziness of the brown sugar. There’s not even any tang from the buttermilk, which I find the most disappointing of all. If I’m going to use buttermilk, I want to be able to tell that there’s buttermilk in it. Especially if it’s in the name.

What’s more disappointing is that they had such promise. The batter tasted great. After I remembered to put the brown sugar in. I forgot at first, and when I tasted the batter, it was terrible. Once I realized I’d forgotten the brown sugar, I figured that would solve the problem. Then I added more buttermilk, because the batter was supposed to be a wet one, but mine wasn’t. I’m wondering how the dryer batter would have turned out, but I don’t quite believe it would help these muffins taste better.

About calling them “muffins.” They’re not really all that muffin-y. The crumb is pretty sticky, and they aren’t crumbly the way muffins usually are. Which makes them less messy to eat but doesn’t improve upon them much.

I put them in wrappers because I was afraid they would stick to the pan even if I did grease them, and I hate cleaning muffin pans. I’m glad I did, because right out of the oven, they were still sticky, and not in a good way. The recipe suggests eating them while they’re still quite warm, but they weren’t that enjoyable. I liked them better the next morning for breakfast, when they had cooled and set more and no longer stuck to the wrappers.

I made these smaller than what the recipe calls for (so I ended up with 12 for half a batch), which I’m now glad for, because I wouldn’t want to eat one any bigger than this. They’re good with coffee, but by themselves, they’re uninspiring.

Also, the crumb on top was not what I was hoping for. I like crumb to have a little texture. This was mushy and, again, mostly flavorless.

All in all, I’m unimpressed. I don’t think it has anything to do with the fact that I just don’t love muffins. Because I have made good muffins before. I’ve also made good coffee cake, which these resemble but don’t hold a candle to. I think it’s just a bland recipe that needs something to punch it up. I’m not sure what.

Conclusion: probably won’t happen a second time. I have other muffin recipes (crumb and otherwise) that I like better. These just didn’t shine the way I’d hoped they would.

Of course, maybe mine just didn’t come out right. Some of the other bakers made some truly delicious-looking crumb muffins. Go check ‘em out. And if you’d like to try them yourself, you can get the recipe (including a fully vegan version) at Easier Than Pie.

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