Pear Muffins with Pecan Streusel

Faced with the choice of a bells-and-whistles breakfast or more sleep, I'll take the former, any day. (See "under-eye bags.") On work days, I opt for something simple: eggs and toast, yogurt and granola, perhaps some fresh berries and a sprinkle of sugar. I save the real fuss for the weekends. But some weekends, after 5 early mornings at the gym, 5 full days at work, and 5 evenings rushing about all week long checking hundreds of things off my to-do list, I face a choice of epic weight between making something fancy and, um, doing nothing. You can see where this is going.

My laziness aside, I can't let this empty belly go hungry. Also, I can't completely neglect cooking, 'cause then what would I tell you about on Sunday night? Caught between the rock and the hard place of weekend breakfast that doesn't kill the weekend, I often turn to muffins like these.

It's a simple thing, really. Once you have a muffin recipe whose proportions are as perfect as this one, the fussing sort of falls away. Don't have pears? Add apples. or fresh berries. Or even a spoonful of jam into the center of each. Short on time? Skip the streusel. They're just great without. If you've got 20 minutes on a Sunday, make a batch. That way, when you're running out the door Monday morning with mascara on one eye and the keys buried in the depths of that Mary Poppins bag (who, me?), at least you won't go hungry.

Pear Muffins with Pecan Streusel adapted from (who else?) Karen DeMasco's Craft of Baking makes 1 dozen

For the muffins:

1 cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, optional 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 cup buttermilk 1 egg 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 3/4 cup light brown sugar 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter 1 ripe but firm pear, cored and roughly chopped

For the Streusel:

1/2 cup flour 1/3 cup cane (or white) sugar 1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 pinch salt 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with liners, or butter the tin.

Make the muffin batter: in a medium bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. In a larger bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar together on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer down to low and begin adding the remaining ingredients: begin with 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then add 1/2 the wet ingredients, then another 1/3 of the dry, followed by the rest of the wet, and finishing with the dry. Be sure to mix after each addition. Add the pears, and mix just until incorporated.

Fill muffin cups equally: I found my normal size ice cream scoop, filled not quite all the way, was the perfect size.

Now, make the streusel: combine all ingredients in a small bowl, and use your fingers to break the butter into the dry ingredients. When mixture has formed some coarse and some fine crumbs, sprinkle it over muffins. Bake 25-30 minutes, until muffins are golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.