Let Them Eat: Crumb Cake Muffin Tops

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[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

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When I was a brace-faced teenager, I often had my orthodontist appointments after school. Since lunch was at 11:30, I was famished by the time the bus dropped me off in front of the office. In a selfish move, I'd usually shove down a cheap cakey snack, such as a Drake's crumb cake, just before my appointment. I'm sure my dentist was not amused. Hey, I could have covered my teeth in a chocolate Susie-Q cake.

It's undisputed that with crumb cakes, more crumb is better—but it can't be just any kind of crumb. For example, the kind of streusel topping that works for a fruit crisp just won't do here. Why? It's too sugary and thus too crunchy. For a crumb cake, I want the softer, not-too-cloying, magical crumb that Entenmann's Super Crumb or your local bakery is able to achieve. For at-home crumb cake making, the trick is to use more flour.

For my individual crumb cakes, I decided to do a little something different. I dusted off my muffin top pan and put it to work. The cake batter is easily whisked in a bowl, and if you'd like, you can bake the crumb cake in a cake pan instead. But one thing's for sure: even though it's all about the crumb topping, the cake underneath does not disappoint. Super moist and vanilla-y, it's a delicious base as ever for the golden, buttery crumbs.

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