A New York Crumb Cake Muffin and a Cup of Tea: Gluten Free, If You Please

by Donna Hann on 09/26/2016


Gluten Free New York Crumb Cake Muffins

For 44 years I awoke each morning, comfortably, yet unknowingly, aware of what to expect from myself: my mind and my body. I approached a red light in my car, and knew how (or why) to stop. I pulled up to the gas pump and intuitively slid my credit card through the appropriate slot. I remembered my dearest friends’ names, because they are, well, dear friends. I hiked, with ease, around the trails at the nearby National Park.

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Last week, however, it occurred to me that my traumatic brain injury, which I talked about when I posted in discovering my new normal, has brought me to a new place. It is an uncomfortable place now, at times, to be sure. Like I have been thrust into a foreign country with no map, no way to speak the language, and no directions home.

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Survivors of concussion and traumatic brain injury often experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, memory loss, poor concentration, balance issues, and slowness in thinking. Although I am so very thankful for the improvements I have made in the last three years, I am keenly aware of the high functionality of the “me” of before. When time stands still now within my brain and I cannot quickly and intuitively process how or where to slide my credit card at the gas pump, I am reminded of my visit to this new foreign country without the damn map.

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Campfire Steak in Cast Iron at Hocking Hills

I wish for the plane ticket “home” when I forget a dear friend’s name at a party when I try to introduce her to another dear friend, and my brain stalls out, and forgets.

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Despite my friends and new acquaintances kindly encouraging me with comments like “oh, yeah, I forget stuff all the time, too” or “you seem normal to me”, it is only me that knows the dozens of occurrences each day that silently take me to the faraway land that makes me feel so unsettled, disconnected, unfamiliar.

There is something that brings me back to my comfortable, familiar, useful place, however.

I approach the kitchen counter wearing an apron, a set of stainless steel measuring spoons in my right hand clanking as I measure out the disparate ingredients that will soon become something magical. Sugar and butter enjoy their new marriage in the shiny bowl of the KitchenAid, awaiting the addition of the farm fresh eggs my father brings me from his Amish neighbor friend. As the cookie dough comes together, I see that the recipe I’ve been reading, begins to looks like a map. Indeed a map home from that foreign land.

At 8:00 p.m., as the kids prepare for their nighttime rituals before school tomorrow, they wish for a homemade sweet treat from the kitchen. I remove the ziptop bag from the freezer that holds the already portioned cookie dough balls I’ve previously made with love, and line them up on a parchment topped sheet pan. Smelling the intoxicating aroma of chocolate as I open the oven door to remove the cookies ten minutes later, I can, almost, feel my hand on the knob to my familiar front door.


You see, when I am standing in my kitchen baking cookies for my kids, or preparing a meal to share with dear friends, or whipping up a humble pot of soup for my family, I find comfort, familiarity, and security. Cooking and baking has always nurtured me. Fortunately, the dance in and around my kitchen – creaming butter, emulsifying a vinaigrette, searing a steak, cracking eggs, frosting a cake – remains a dance I know by heart (unless too many pots are on the stove – then I get a little overwhelmed). The privilege I have of nurturing those I love through food, is not taken for granted. So when I offer to make something from my kitchen – my heart – for you, it is not a chore. It is not loathsome work. It is not difficult. It is through my recipes that I find my way home. Home to my heart – where I can nurture myself…and you. Won’t you come over for a crumb cake muffin and a cup of tea?

New York Crumb Cake Muffins GF/DF

New York Style Crumb Cake Muffins - deliciously gluten free
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A moist vanilla flavored cake is topped with loads of crumbs to accompany your morning coffee or tea. Dairy free option available.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 12
For the Crumb Topping:
  • 1 cup all purpose gluten free flour blend (I used Better Batter)
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch (preferably non-GMO)
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter or organic non-dairy shortening, melted and cooled
For the Cake Batter:
For the Crumb Topping:
  1. In a small bowl, mix the first 6 ingredients to blend. Add the melted butter or shortening and stir until clumps begin to form. Set aside while you make the cake batter.
For the Cake Batter:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Line a standard size muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer add the flour, corn starch, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and blend on low speed using a paddle attachment.
  4. Add butter, one tablespoon at a time, and blend on medium low until moist crumbs form and no chunks of butter remain.
  5. Add egg and vanilla and blend briefly.
  6. Add milk and sour cream and blend until just combined.
  7. Using a ¼ cup ice cream scoop or measuring cup, portion batter into each of the 12 muffin pan cavities, smoothing the tops gently.
  8. Using your fingertips, pick up small handfuls of crumb topping and roll between fingertips to create small pea size balls and gently drop onto each muffin, being careful not to smash the crumbs into the batter.
  9. Bake in middle of oven for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of one muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to rack to cool completely.

Gluten Free New York Crumb Cake Muffins

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