Blueberry Oat Crumble Muffins

Blueberry Oat Crumble Muffins

I spent the last week fitting my one bedroom apartment into boxes. Sealed with packing tape and stacked into tall, quivering towers, they fill a small 10" by 10" storage unit, awaiting next month's big move. I am displaced until then, spending time with family and traveling in the interim. With a job offer to teach in another location, it is time to leave the small town life for a bustling city. This change, however, is more bittersweet than expected. Though I resisted it madly in the beginning, this small town of minepopulation 3,000grew on me.  

We put down roots whether or not we mean to; we find a way to feel like we belong.

Blueberry Oat Crumble Muffins

Blueberry Oat Crumble Muffins

I will miss many things about this place. The two minute commute to work each morning. The two minute commute to anywhere in town. The honor system farmer's market (a table of fresh vegetables sits alone in a vacant parking lot, with a box to collect payment. If only everywhere could be so honest). The smells emanating from the food factory in the center of town (some days, the pervasive scent of dog foodblechbut on the rare days it smells like chocolate or gumdrops, it feels as if Willy Wonka's factory is just down the street). The realization that living in a small town does not mean you live a small life. 

But, most of all, I will miss the people. The welcoming, caring, animated souls who made this place home for the last two years.

Blueberry Oat Crumble Muffins

When I first arrived to this town, I nervously baked up a batch of granola bars, wondering if I had made the right decision in moving here. Oats were (and are) a comfort food to me, familiarity in a world that was both strange and new. It seemed fitting that the last pan to come out of my small apartment kitchen were these oat-filled muffins. They are a means to say goodbye and turn the page on a new chapter in my life.

Blueberry Oat Crumble Muffins

Blueberry Oat Crumble Muffins are bursting with blueberries and a bright aroma. Oats, which are grounded down to a flour, give a hearty flavor to the final product. Topped with a cinnamon crumble, the muffins are complete. Serve with a spread of butter or simply eat them plain, both methods will do just fine.

One Year Ago: Mango Margarita, Chocolate Cacao Nib Banana Bread, and Chocolate Espresso Custard
Two Years Ago: Rhubarb Vanilla Pound CakeBoozy Margarita Lime Cake, Double Chocolate Muffins, and Rhubarb Ginger Bars
Three Years Ago: Toffee Chocolate Chip CookiesCoconut Nutmeg Pudding, Lavender Lemonade, Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes, and Cherry Almond Granola
Four Years Ago: Honey Peach Boba Tea, Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies, Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread, and Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast
Five Years Ago: Bittersweet Chocolate Sherbet, Rhubarb Jam, and Tapioca Pudding

Blueberry Oat Crumble Muffins

Yields 1 dozen muffins

Blueberry Oat Muffins
1/4 cup (50 grams) coconut oil, liquid state
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (68 grams) oat flour *
3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (177 ml) milk
6 ounces (170 grams) fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the coconut oil and sugars until uniform. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients (cinnamon, baking powder, salt, oat flour, all-purpose flour) alternatively with the milk until smooth. Stir in the fresh blueberries. Set aside.

Oat Crumble Topping
2 tablespoons coconut oil, liquid state
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup (30 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (45 grams) old fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a small bowl, mix together all crumble ingredients until uniform.

Fill each muffin liner 3/4 full of batter. Sprinkle approximately 1 tablespoon of crumble topping on each and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

* To make oat flour, place old fashioned oats in a food processor and process until oats are a fine powder.

Scenes from New York

NYC

Life seized my attention for the past few weeks, but I am back and here for a quick check in. Even though this space has been quiet, I have been running around at high speed. I spent the first part of June traveling around New York City, and I am currently packing up my apartment for another big move (which I’ll tell you about soon!).

The first stop on the trip was Brooklyn for the Saveur Food Blog Awards. It was so wonderful to meet the faces behind the blogs that I most admire. While I didn’t win (and certainly didn’t expect to), the bloggers who did were incredibly deserving—you can check out their blogs here! The rest of the holiday was spent sightseeing in Manhattan and generally acting very much like a tourist (much to my boyfriend’s dismay). I geeked out at the American Museum of Natural History, rode bikes through Central Park, watched the sunset from the top of the Empire State Building, enjoyed the Book of Mormon on Broadway, and walked the streets in search of good food.

Easily the best meal we had was in the tavern section at Gramercy Tavern. The food we had (sea bass and pork loin) was delicious, and the wait staff was the most attentive I have ever experienced.  We also sought out ramen on three separate occasions (I blame the recent viewing of Mind of a Chef) and other ethnic foods that are impossible to find in our small town. I started each morning off with a smoothie from a hidden gem down the street (which I plan to share with you once I perfect it) and made a point to stop at one of the countless bakeries, like Milk Bar and Insomnia Cookies, for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

All in all, it was time well spent. I’ll be back soon to share a recipe with you!

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Strawberry Layer Cake

Strawberry Layer Cake

Pastry Affair turned five years old earlier this weekan unimaginable milestone when I started this blog so long ago. Originally a place to let out a little creative energy, it has grown and flourished into so much more. This space stayed a constant when my life was going through the many and tumultuous changes of growing up and finding a place in this world. I hope it continues to be one for plenty of years to come. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey, dear friend, and following along wherever it may lead.

I celebrated this anniversary earlier this spring by upgrading my camera from an entry level DSLR to a professional model. I am still learning how to use it (the purpose of many of the buttons remains a mystery), but it is my new summer project. During Pastry Affair's 4th anniversary, I shared that I had been struggling with blogging, losing the motivation to continue in light of my new career as a high school teacher. It took a few months of healing and letting go of my ideas of perfection, but Pastry Affair found its way back into my heart. It feels right.

Strawberry Layer Cake

Strawberry Layer Cake

The past week was not only a big week for Pastry Affair, but it was also the start of summer vacation (!) and my own 27th birthday (!!). Unlike my 25th birthday, when I despaired that my childhood was over, I felt ready to embrace this new age. I have never been more of an adult than I have in this past year, both in mannerisms and responsibilities, but I still feel as if I have a hold on youth. There is a quote that I adore from Leo Rosten that expresses this well:

O, to be sure, we laugh less and play less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults, but beneath the costume is the child we always are, whose needs are simple, whose daily life is still best described by fairy tales. 

With summer upon me (and three glorious months to call my own), perhaps this disguise will disappear for a moment while I take on a few new adventures of my own.

Strawberry Layer Cake

Strawberry Layer Cake

It is well documented that my personal favorite celebration cake is a Berry Topped Angel Food Cake. With this particular cake and culinary spirit in mind, I fashioned this strawberry layer cake for Pastry Affair's special day. A simple vanilla cake is surrounded by a strawberry infused swiss meringue buttercream, but the taste is something straight from heaven. The "naked" cake is one of my favorite trends because it is so easy to recreate. The frosting is not supposed to be perfect or fully cover the sides, which means that there are very few ways to get this wrong. If you are a bit inexperienced at cake decoration, this style is definitely for you. 

The recipe is designed to create a full-sized three layer cake, so save this for a memorable event when you have eager mouths to please.

Strawberry Layer Cake

Strawberry Layer Cake expands on the idea of strawberries and cream by turning it into a multi-layer masterpiece. My classic vanilla cake recipe has been rewritten for a tall three layer cake. The cake is surrounded with a vanilla swiss meringue buttercream interspersed with fresh strawberries. The recipe may appear extensive at first glance, but do not let this deter you. If you have made cake and frosting before, this cake will be no more difficult nor take you a greater length of time.

One Year Ago: Berry Topped Angel Food Cake
Two Years Ago: White Chocolate Espresso CakePineapple Jam, and Vanilla Chia Pudding
Three Years Ago: Mocha Granola, Multigrain Bread, Blueberry Lemon Crumble, and Vanilla Cupcakes
Four Years Ago: Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade, Citrus Roasted Rhubarb, and Roasted Cherry Brownies
Five Years Ago: Chocolate Coconut Granola, Sour Cream Sugar Cookies, and Lemon Tarts

Strawberry Layer Cake

Yields 3 layer 8 or 9-inch cake*

Vanilla Cake
3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups (560 grams) granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 cup (240 grams) sour cream (or plain, non-fat yogurt)
2/3 cup (150 grams) olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
5 1/3 cups (600 grams) cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups (480 ml) milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease 8 or 9-inch cake pans and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sour cream, olive oil, and vanilla extract. Gradually add in the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in three additions, alternating with the milk, stirring until batter is uniform and smooth.

Divide batter evenly between cake pans. Keep in mind that the cake layers will be relatively tall. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool to room temperature before frosting. 

Vanilla Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Heavily adapted from Sweetapolita

5 large egg whites (150 g)
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups (340 grams) butter
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (225 grams) fresh strawberries, cored and sliced

Using a sharp knife, cube the butter and set aside. While making the frosting, the butter will warm up slightly, but should still be cool to the touch when using it. 

Wipe a large bowl with a paper towel soaked in a small amount of lemon juice or vinegar to remove traces of grease. Add egg whites and sugar and, over a double boiler, whisk constantly over hot water until the sugar dissolves. When rubbed between your fingers, the egg whites should feel hot and smooth (approximately a temperature of 140 degrees F/60 degrees C). This will generally take 3-5 minutes.

Using a mixer, whip the egg whites until thick, glossy peaks form. This may take anywhere from 8-10 minutes. The bottom of the bowl should feel neutral to the touch before moving on to the next step.

Place the mixer on low speed and add the cool butter cubes one at a time, mixing until smooth. The frosting should reach a silky texture. Beat in the vanilla bean seeds. If the butter is too warm and the frosting is too runny, place in the refrigerator for approximately 15 minutes to firm up the butter before mixing again. If the mixture curdles, continue mixing until it comes back together.

To assemble, reserve approximately 1 1/2 cups of frosting to use later. Mix a majority of the sliced strawberries in the remaining frosting, reserving a handful for decoration. 

Place the bottom cake layer on a serving plate. Place approximately 2 cups of strawberry filled frosting on the cake and smooth evenly. Add the second layer of cake and repeat. Place the final layer on top and, using the reserved frosting, smooth frosting onto the top and sides of the cake to fill in any gaps. If there are bare areas showing between the cake layers, push reserved strawberry slices into the frosting and smooth out with an uneven spatula.

Top with halved strawberries and serve.

* A 3 layer 8-inch cake will not use all of the batter so you will have enough leftover batter to create a few cupcakes. If baking 9-inch cakes, you will likely use all of the batter in the creation of the cake.