Coffee Cake Muffins

Coffee Cake Muffins

“What is it that I love so well about muffins?” I wondered to myself as I scrubbed the stubborn brown sugar bits from the muffin tin.

Then it hit me. Like a muffin to the head.

It’s all mine.

All of it. Every last little bit of it. The crumbs, the soft middle, the almost crispy edges. Mine.

Perhaps I should explain.

I am not one of those Moms who wake up in the morning, wondering how can I give to my children in new & special ways.  I love my children, but what’s mine is mine. What’s yours, Dear Child, is provisionally yours, considering that you have it only because either I gave it to you or I allowed you to keep what someone else gave to you. One way or the other, it came through me. You don’t owe me anything for taking care of you, seeing as you did not ask to be born, & I love because you are mine, not because of anything you did or didn’t do. My love is unconditional. The caring is for free.

But the stuff – that’s where we have to talk.

If you, My Child, would go hungry {truly hungry} were you not to eat what was otherwise mine, I would give you what food I have, expecting nothing in return.

Short of that, I expect to be able to eat in peace, and to eat everything that is mine — on my own plate — if I so choose.

A muffin is not a piece of cake, or a piece of anything. It is itself, beautiful, proud … and mine all mine.

How about you? Is there anyone to whom you say, “what’s mine is yours”? Your children? Perhaps your significant other? A dear friend?

I have come to understand, over the years, that many people are more selfless than I am. And I do not judge. This is not my judgment of others. It is only how I usually manage to stay just this side of {in}sanity. I truly enjoy cooking & baking for family & friends. But if it’s on my plate, keep your eyes on your own.

So what do you think? Are you a muffin person, or do you prefer to share 1 piece of cake, 2 forks? You won’t mind if I have my own plate, will you?

I’m sure you could make this recipe as a cake, but for now, I’ll stick with the muffins. They are, indeed, a bit crispy on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside, & the topping is just a bonus. For me. And for you. Separately, if you don’t mind. And I say that with L-O-V-E. :)

Coffee Cake Muffins
Recipe Type: Dessert/Breakfast
Author: Nicole @ Gluten-free on a Shoestring.com
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 12
Gluten-free coffee cake muffins with crumble topping
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (or nondairy butter substitute)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) sour cream, at room temperature (low-fat is fine, nonfat is not)*
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use Better Batter)
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if using Better Batter)
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening (I use Spectrum non-hydrogenated kind)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use Better Batter)
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if using Better Batter)
  • pinch kosher salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease or line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable shortening (you can use butter, either, but I find that it burns more easily, since it has moisture that shortening does not have).
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and the sour cream, and mix until well combined. Next, add the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the wet ingredients, and beat until the batter is thick. Set aside the batter while we make the mix-in/topping.
  3. To make the mix-in/topping, in a medium-size bowl, beat the shortening and sugar until creamy. Add the flour, xanthan gum and salt to the butter mixture and mix with a fork until coarse crumbs form.
  4. Freeze the crumble mixture until very firm, about 10 minutes (or refrigerate for an hour).
  5. Add half the chilled mix-in to the muffin batter and stir until the mix-in is evenly distributed throughout the batter. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 prepared muffin cups, and smooth the tops of the batter with very wet fingers.
  6. Place the muffin tin in the center of the preheated oven, & bake for 10 minutes. Remove the muffin tin from the oven, and sprinkle the remaining mix-in over the tops of the muffins. Return the tin to the oven, and bake for about another 10 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the middle muffin comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached.
  7. The batter can easily be made the night before, and then baked in the morning. I wouldn’t wait much longer than that, though, before baking.

*You can replace the sour cream in the batter with an equal amount of buttermilk, or even nondairy milk or sour cream substitute. Using something “sour,” like buttermilk or sour cream, will give the muffins more texture and flavor.

I use shortening in the mix-in/topping because I find that it melts more slowly, & is more stable as it bakes. Any other sort of fat would work, though, even grapeseed oil if you wanted to avoid solid fat altogether.



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  • November 27, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    yum yum yum

  • Peggy Ford on Facebook
    November 26, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    This looks so yummy! I’m with you about the “What’s on my plate is mine!” I do NOT share the food on my plate! All my family & friends know better than to touch Peggy’s plate! You are free to share anything/everything in/on the serving dishes/pots but once it’s on my plate, it’s off limits!!!

  • November 26, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    I am soo pinning this recipe!

  • Meg Bailey Gustafson on Facebook
    November 26, 2011 at 11:13 AM


  • Rachel
    June 18, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    I made these yesterday. Sooooo yummy!! I actually let them bake long enough and they looked just like regular coffee cake. I’ve been having a tough time getting my mind around the fact that baking GF means more time in the oven. I’ve had more than my share of breads and cakes with raw, doughy middles…yuck! These came out wonderful and tasty! Now…on to the Monkey Bread!!! :-)

    • Nicole
      June 18, 2011 at 9:19 PM

      Hi, Rachel,
      I’m so glad that you liked the recipe, and that it turned out well for you! I wouldn’t say that GF baking uniformly requires more time in the oven, but all that matters is that you were successful! Let us know how the Monkey Bread turns out!

  • […] I love muffins. […]

  • […] Coffee Cake Muffins from Nicole at Gluten-Free on a Shoestring. […]

  • May 18, 2011 at 4:32 PM

    My son has been wanting a coffee cake muffin. I think these might be next on our to try list. :)

  • Shalini Lynch
    May 18, 2011 at 12:30 AM

    Made these tonight and they got a big “thumbs up” from the streusel lovers in my household. I was surprised that the batter looked and felt more like a drop biscuit dough than a muffin batter…..I suppose that’s from the sour cream?

    • Nicole
      May 18, 2011 at 7:03 AM

      Hi, Shalini,
      Yup. It’s the sour cream. Less moisture, thicker consistency, lots of flavor. I love baking with sour cream. Glad they were a hit! Thanks for letting us know…

  • May 17, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    They have the tendency to suck the brain cells right out of us, huh? Said in a LOVING way, of course ;)

    • Nicole
      May 17, 2011 at 4:10 PM

      Heather, like they were BORN to do it. Said, of course, with L-O-V-E. ;)

  • Heather
    May 17, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    It really depends on what it is, most of the time I’m willing to share – 2 forks kind of gal, but if it’s sushi then no :)

    • Nicole
      May 17, 2011 at 8:42 AM

      Hi, Heather,
      I’m impressed! I think I was more likely to do the two forks thing before I had children (but honestly I can’t even remember!).

  • Let us know how it goes, Lisa!

  • Lisa Demopoulos-Mustac via Facebook
    May 16, 2011 at 6:02 PM

    Can’t wait to try these!

  • Shalini Lynch via Facebook
    May 16, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    can’t wAit to try these. My kids love streusel. What a great idea to use shortening instead of butter.

  • Margaret Haffner
    May 16, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    Hi Nicole, love your blog! You are SO funny :-) Just want to clarify something about the amount of some ingredients – if the recipe states “cup gluten free flour” or “teaspoon kosher salt” is it implied that the quantity is “1”? or is something missing in this yummy looking recipe? Thanks!

    • Nicole
      May 16, 2011 at 2:30 PM

      Hi, Margaret,
      Thank you so much for noticing the errors in the recipe! I typed out the post in a Word document, and copied and pasted, and some of the characters didn’t translate. I have fixed it all. I’m so glad you mentioned that. Please accept my apologies!

      • Anonymous
        May 16, 2011 at 6:21 PM

        Thanks for updating! Now I can go make them, yummy, yummy!

      • Nicole
        May 16, 2011 at 6:54 PM

        My pleasure, Margaret. Thank you for pointing it out to me!

  • Linda Stoddard via Facebook
    May 16, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    yum scrunchalicious!

  • Sarah Dean via Facebook
    May 16, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    I might just have to make these for the ladies coming over on Thursday. Yummy!

  • Marta Vincent via Facebook
    May 16, 2011 at 9:22 AM

    Oh yes! I’m a muffin person and I just printed this recipe out to try it. Having no children at home, I still will, occasionally, allow my spouse to eat one (just one!) of my special treats. But if he helps himself, I do object. Because these are mine!!!!

  • AnneMarie Nantais Fleury via Facebook
    May 16, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    thanks Nicole….I know what I’ll be doing this cool, rainy day!!

  • Hi, AnneMarie, Yes you can definitely use paper muffin liners (just grease them if they’re the thin kind), and they definitely freeze well.

  • May 16, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    How about powdered donuts?

  • AnneMarie Nantais Fleury via Facebook
    May 16, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    we sure do think alike..lol…I just have 2 questions..1-would it be possible to use paper muffin tin liners and 2- do they freeze well?

  • Jennica Jacobs via Facebook
    May 16, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    I read your blogs, and they crack me up…especially this one! I have this argument with my daughter all the time…STAY AWAY FROM MY PLATE!!! LOL

  • Angie Culp via Facebook
    May 16, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    Yes, pleeeeeaaaassse!!!!

  • Phyllis Mueller via Facebook
    May 16, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    yes, I will message you my address!!!

  • Janet Slater via Facebook
    May 16, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    Oh my those look good. I forsee an afternoon in the kitchen today.

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