Pear Muffin Cakes With Crumble Topping

Not knowing if he's a muffin, a cup cake,
or a "muffin cake", was deeply
confusing for Charlie the Muffin Thing.
After "mastering" cookies, I decided to turn my sights to the ubiquitous muffin. I've never been a great fan of muffins, but I reckon that's probably because they're often not that good. Good, soft, flavourful, tasty muffins are "ok". But bad muffins, the worst of which often come from a home kitchen, just don't make me eager to eat muffins. Sometimes I've had to practically force them into my mouth with the aid of both hands, when one hand would put up too much resistance. Some of the reasons I don't care much for muffins, is when people try to make them too "healthy", and use "healthy" flours. e.g. Low-gluten flours like whole wheat, or organic.

I have nothing against the idea of making them healthier. It's just that these sort of choices have a tendency to make the muffin small, hard, dry, tasteless, and with the mouth feel of a rolled-up sock. Which become even worse when refrigerated and cold. Other muffin turn-offs include when it has chocolate chips or other ingredients that are too sweet. When it has "special" ingredients that just shouldn't be in a muffin; like zucchini. Or ingredients that are traditional for muffins, but just taste awful anyway; ie. bran.

Apple version with cinammon crumb
topping; regular and shallow size.
Yes, they're as delicious as they look.
The muffins in this recipe though, are ok. No, better than ok. They're pretty good! Though pretty sweet, but you can reduce the sugar if you like. No law against it. If underripe, the pears might be a bit subtle in flavour. You can substitute apples instead, which should raise the flavour profile a bit. Alternatively, you can also use three or four bananas, if you have a few on hand. Or why not pineapple chunks or a mango? Yum. Even if you have no fresh fruit in the crisper, try substituting apple sauce!


Fruit Mix:

2 - 3 pears, peeled (Substitution: Apples)
1/2 c white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter or a good (not-partially-hydrogenated) margarine (Substitution: Healthy, high quality, flavourless vegetable oil)

Flour Mix:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (Substitution: 1 c a-p flour, 1/2c whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 t to 1/2 teaspoon salt


1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 t vanilla (Substitution: 1/4 t ground cinnamon)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter


Fruit Mixture:

Pear fruit mixture after processing
For this recipe, you will require a muffin pan/papers, and (for best results) a food processor. If using pears, cut the pears in half, and remove the stems. Using a small, sturdy spoon, scoop out just the hard centre part, turning the pear as you carve the piece out. Discard. Lay the pear flat and use the spoon to cut a small piece off the end, and discard the end piece. If the pear is firm, you can peel off the skin at this point with a peeler. Start peeling around the edge, and turn the pear in your hand, as you peel around until all the peel has been removed. (If using apples, do similar). In a food processor, add the pear halves (or apples), white sugar, beaten egg and margarine. For a lighter muffin, process the mix for a couple of minutes until the fruit has been totally incorporated into the mix, and the mix is smooth, creamy, and light. Like frosting. For a tastier muffin, process in brief pulses, only until the mix comes together, while the pieces of fruit are still more or less intact.

Flour Mixture:

Flour mixture
In a large bowl, add the flour, then baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well to combine. Add the fruit mixture over top of the flour mixture. Running a spatula against the side of the bowl, slowly incorporate the flour into the wet fruit mixture, keeping the spatula against the side of the bowl as you turn the bowl with the other hand. Mix until the flour has just barely all dissolved into the liquid. Do not overmix. Prepare oven for 375F degrees, and your muffin pan by using a bit of the margarine or oil to grease the cups of your muffin pan. Pour the muffin batter into your muffin pan using a large spoon. Fill the muffin cups evenly, until the batter is used up.


Brown sugar/vanilla topping mix
Add the brown sugar, 2 T flour and vanilla (or cinammon) in a small bowl. Mix, and add 1T butter or margarine to this mixture. (If using cinammon, it should have a crumbly texture, and if vanilla, a moist semi-crumbly texture). Sprinkle some of this mixture on top of each muffin.


Charlie the Muffin Thing, plus wife
and four chidren: The Eartly Years.
Bake about 18 - 20 minutes for small or regular size muffins (ie. a 12 cup muffin tin), and 30 - 35 minutes for large muffins (aka "muffin cakes", pictured); which come a half dozen cups per muffin tin. Check after 20 minutes. Muffins should be deep golden at the edges (see photo) and a toothpick inserted into the centre should come out clean. When done, remove from the muffin tin and let cool on a wire rack about 15 minutes (to keep the bottoms from becoming soggy).


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