Oh dear. I have sometimes wondered if you really do need to have special baking tins for muffins or cupcakes. Surely if you just buy a pack of those sweet little pleated cases and put them onto a flat baking tray and fill them with the required mix you'd get the same result? As the photo above attests the answer to that question is a resounding NO. Sadly.
I don't do a lot of sweet cooking but occasionally will come across something that sounds interesting/fabulous/perfect for some specific occasion. Hence the non ownership of muffin tin. One of last week's hot links in my Gourmet email was for these little rhubarb cakes and I was taken with them partly because I love rhubarb and partly because it didn't require the rhubarb to be cooked prior to baking - just chop finely and douse in icing sugar. Liked the sound of it - and here was the perfect moment to test my cupcake theory.
If I'm honest I knew before they even went into the oven this was heading for disaster. As I put the first lot of batter into the base of the little cases they kind of flattened outwards, but not too badly so I perservered. Sprinkled my little flecks of rhubarb on top then finished with dark sugar butter and put them in to cook.
Twenty five minutes later they came out of the oven looking like pull-apart buns with little pleated frills making patterns across the tray. So thoroughly wrong I had to laugh. Pull them apart I did, however and fortunately they taste great, not too sweet and lovely spice finish on top.
Rhubarb Streusel Cakes
Makes12 individual(!) cakes
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
70g unsalted butter, softened
200g fresh rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2 cm dice
3 tablespoons icing sugar
For cake batter
175g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
115g unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup whole milk
a nonstick muffin pan with 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups
Preheat oven to Gas4/ 375°F. Generously butter muffin cups and top of pan.
Make streusel for topping:
Whisk together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture forms small clumps.
Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until blended, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and milk alternately in 2 batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just combined.
Top and bake cakes:
Divide batter among muffin cups (each cup will be about half full). Toss rhubarb with icing sugar and sprinkle batter with rhubarb, then crumble streusel evenly on top.
Bake in middle of oven until tops are golden and a tester inserted in center of a cake comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes.
Cool cakes in pan on a rack 3 minutes, then loosen edges of cakes with a small sharp knife or small metal spatula. Remove cakes from pan and put on rack to cool slightly.
Next time I might just make it in a pan - dispense with the cases altogether!