Sunday, September 28, 2008

Apples and fall-ish things.

Apple Muffins.

I really don't like fall. I can get into all the other seasons. Winter I have Christmas, the holidays, my birthday to look forward to. Spring is great because the snow will eventually melt and it gets warmer and everything becomes green again. Summer. Glorious summer. It is my favourite. So obviously when fall rolls around it feels like the death of the best season, you know? There are too many changes in September and I've always hated it.

Apple picking, hay rides, pumpkins, Halloween, apple cider. None of these things are very nostalgic for me or bring me much joy I have to say. But sometimes I do feel like the people I live with deserve to have these things that they themselves might enjoy. And also we have a crap load of McIntosh apples sitting on the counter and no one is eating them because it's still kind of warm out at the moment. Plus this is one of the few apple recipes I found not using Granny Smiths. I mean, yes I'm a baker but who actually keeps Granny Smiths around for eating? They don't because they're not meant to be eaten. I only buy them when I'm making apple pie.

Anyway, I promise this will be the last recipe from Carole Walter's Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More. Well I can't promise anything because sometimes on Saturday nights I have a desire for something with a buttery crumb topping and this is the book I immediately go to. But hopefully I'll be doing more of a variety of baked goods now that the heat won't prevent me from baking. Maybe.

Just a note this recipe originally called for a different crumb topping, something called "country crumb topping" which included whole wheat flour, oatmeal and things that sounded good and fine but much too much for my sleepy brain to think about when all I wanted were buttery crumbs. Therefore I went for the rustic maple pecan streusel on the page next to it. Much more my thing anyway :D

Apple Muffins with Maple Pecan Streusel
Recipes from Carole Walter's Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More
(Both these recipes originally call for dark brown sugar. I would have used it if I had it but light brown worked just fine in both cases.)

Streusel (make this first):
7 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1 1/4 cups AP flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
(I added 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped a bit

Place the butter in a small saucepan and heat until almost melted and add the extract. Set it aside and let the rest of it melt and cool down a bit. Add the other ingredients and stir with a fork until crumbs form. Set aside until you need it for the muffins.

Apple Muffins.

Muffin batter:
3 medium McIntosh apples (about a pound) peeled, cored, and chopped into small pieces
1 3/4 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Originally the recipe says you can peel and core the apples and then chop them in the food processor. If you're that lazy, go for it. But I am never opposed to a little chopping with a chef's knife and in this case it makes no difference whatsoever.

So anyway, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, paper some muffin cups (this made 18 for me, the recipe says 16 though) and sift the dry ingredients together and set them aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs until they're lighter in colour on medium high speed, about 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and whisk again for another minute. Add the honey and the vanilla and then combine the butter and oil. Now you want to add this to the eggs and basically emulsify the situation, so drizzle them in very slowly, making it take about a minute. Add the apples, raisins and pecans, stir and then add the dry ingredients all at once and stir until combined.

Portion the batter out into the cups. It can really go almost to the top and it won't overflow, promise. Then crumble the streusel on top. Each muffin can get a generous amount. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans for even browning halfway through.

Let cool or don't and enjoy. These are good enough that I forget it's fall anyway.

Apple Muffins.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Last of summer.

Blueberry Streusel Muffins.

So originally for brunch this weekend I was going to make this because I haven't made cinnamon buns in forever but I didn't have the time or energy to do so. However, we also had a container of blueberries sitting in the fridge. Being that it is still TECHNICALLY summer, I decided to use the blueberries instead. I really hate fall by the way.

Anyway, this recipe is from Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More by Carole Walter. I have used a couple recipes so far from this book since I bought it and every one has been really great, espcially because they've all used her favourite streusel recipe. Here's my adaptation.

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup AP flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium sized sauce pot, melt the butter over low heat until it's almost melted. Take it off the heat and let it cool to tepid.

Sift the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Add this to the tepid butter and stir with a fork until large lumps form and it's crumbly. Set aside.

Muffin batter:
1 3/4 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup unsalted butter, slightly firm
(at this point lemon zest was also called for, I didn't use any and they were still superb.)
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream (originally called for buttermilk, either works, or even yogurt.)
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried well (I had about 6 ounces, worked fine.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line fourteen muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cut the butter into chunks and put this in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth, then add the lemon zest if using and the sugar, then the egg and vanilla.

Add the flour and sour cream or buttermilk alternately beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Using just over half the batter, scoop spoonfuls into the bottom of the muffin cups. Then on top of this add the blueberries, I think I ended up using about 8 or 9 berries per muffin. Then using the rest of the batter, spoon a dollop more on top of the berries. It's okay if the berries are showing. Sprinkle the streusel over each muffin generously.

Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, although yours might take longer. The streusel should be golden brown and when a toothpick is inserted into the muffin it should come out clean. Cool on a wire rack, although these are great warm with coffee or tea. These are definitely fork muffins though - they can get very crumbly - but that's the best part :D

Blueberry Streusel Muffins.