My grandmother grew strawberries in a small garden plot that lined the exterior of her detached garage. The soil was edged with scalloped gray concrete bricks, adjacent to a chain-link fence with a gate leading to the back alley. As a little girl, I'd sneak out to the garden, lift the big green leaves, and peek underneath for that flash of bright red.
Despite all of my grandmother's urging to the contrary, I was never patient enough to leave them there until they were fully ripe and perfect. I always picked them a little too soon, popping them into my mouth ever so quickly, then sheepishly hiding my red-stained fingertips behind my back while trying to wipe the puckered expression off my face. I'm sure Grandma watched me do this from her kitchen window, shook her head at my stubbornness and laughed to herself.
Nowadays, I enjoy strawberries in everything from my lemonade to my salads, and from my smoothies to my scones. These muffins are another beautiful way to use up those ripe berries -- buttery coffee cake batter studded with fresh berries and topped with sweet crumble. These strawberry coffee cake muffins are just as irresistible as berries straight from the garden.
Strawberry coffee cake muffins
Yields 12 muffins
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced
For the crumble topping:
1/4 cup butter (cold), cubed
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake papers.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and the sugar. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest and beat to incorporate.
3. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk to the mixer, beating until smooth and combined. Using a medium cookie scoop, add the muffin batter to the prepared muffin pan. Top each muffin with strawberries, distributing them evenly between all 12 muffins.
5. To make the crumble topping: To a small mixing bowl, add the cubed butter, flour and sugars. Cut in using a pastry blender until the mixture resembles crumbs. Sprinkle generously over the strawberries.
Bake the muffins for 20-24 minutes or until baked through and golden. Best served warm and enjoyed within 24 hours.
Maya Evoy lives in Nikiski and blogs about food at alaskafromscratch.com. Have a food question or recipe request? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your inquiry may appear in a future column.