In my experience, baked goods have a way of triggering memories more than any other kind of food.
Maybe that’s because, as children, we love the special feeling that comes with eating cookies, cakes or muffins. Most of the time, they are a treat to celebrate something. Other foods, like soups or stews, casseroles, side dishes, are just part of dinner.
Two weeks ago, I shared Aurel Pop’s recollections of a Romanian cake, and just last week, thanks to our #Austin360Cooks project on social media, I found another local blogger with a heartfelt story to tell through something sweet.
When Dash of Texas blogger Becca Hubert (dashoftexas.com and @dashoftexas on Instagram) was a kid, both of her parents worked in the school system. Her dad was a high school principal; her mom was an English teacher at the same school. During the school year, there wasn’t much time to linger over breakfast. Hubert says they mostly ate Raisin Bran or Frosted Flakes before jetting off to school, which was their second home.
“Weekends were precious and savored for recovery and relaxation when there wasn’t a pesky sporting event or school function that called one or both parental units to work, so baked breakfast goods didn’t grace the table in abundance,” she wrote on her website last week.
“But on days when the wind blew from the right direction, when the stars aligned perfectly, when school let out for summer and my mom could breathe easily with the feeling of sweet freedom from the classroom full of hormone- and angst-ridden teens — whom she actually loved dearly — for a few months, I remember these muffins. I think of them as her celebration of the bits of spare time she had, picking up the old spatula she used once upon a time when she was a brand new mother to bake cakes for money on the side, using it again to fill her family’s bellies with sugary warmth and goodness.”
Hubert’s family didn’t call these Snickerdoodle Muffins. She remembers her mom making them from a blueberry muffin mix, sans the can of blueberries, and dipping the tops in butter and then a cinnamon sugar mix.
Hubert made her version from scratch but maintains that her mom’s were better. “Nostalgia and the fondness of my mom’s cooking qualifies the packaged version of my youth to be deemed superior. … (These are) simple, completely unhealthy, and worth every old memory and potential new one.”
For the muffins:
11 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
For the topping:
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp.) butter, melted
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and 1/4 cup white granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. With the paddle running, add the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Alternate pouring the dry ingredients into the muffin mixture with the buttermilk in turn, beginning and ending with the dry mixture.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a regular-size muffin tin with muffin liners, or spray so the muffins won’t stick in the tin. Fill each muffin mold about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for about 23 minutes, or until they are set and golden around the edges. Let them cool until they are easy to handle.
To top the muffins, melt butter in the microwave or over the stove top, and place in a shallow bowl. Stir the 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon until well combined in a separate shallow bowl. Dip the entire muffin top into the melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture until well coated.
— Becca Hubert, Dash of Texas (dashoftexas.com)]]