Thursday, March 18, 2010
WHOLE WHEAT APPLE MUFFINS
I’ve mentioned it before: I’m just not a muffin person. (This despite the fact that my first cat was named Muffin. Hey, what can I say? I was 10.) They’re cute and all, but so many of them are sweet enough to verge on dessert territory, which is usually not what I crave for breakfast or a snack (and when it’s time for dessert, I’ll take candy or cookies or pie or cake, thanks). But muffins are so popular with others and so crazy easy to make that I do end up baking them on occasion, usually when I have an ingredient to use up (cream cheese, zucchini, ripe bananas) or when I need to bring a treat somewhere to share. So when I was charged with bringing the refreshments for my department’s monthly meeting, which takes place at 9:00 a.m., muffins were the obvious choice. While watching the Academy Awards red carpet show, I made poppy-seed almond muffins so I could finally get a picture for the ol’ blog—and then noticed, while rereading that entry, that I referred to making those very muffins during the Oscars three years ago! Apparently, something about the Oscars says “muffin time” to me.
I also wanted a slightly more wholesome (or wholesome-seeming) muffin option, so I decided to try this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen (adapted from King Arthur Flour). Although they sound vaguely hippie-ish—and indeed, they’re blessedly far from the cupcakes-masquerading-as-muffins phenomenon I abhor—the butter, buttermilk (ordinarily, I might try yogurt, but when baking for others my shameless desire for approbation leads me to choose the full-fat option most of the time), and generous sprinkling of brown sugar make them not out of place in the “treat” category. The whole wheat flavor comes through, but the texture is spectacularly moist and tender, with an irresistible crunchy, caramelized top. (If I were actually making these for my own breakfast/snacking purposes, I might go a little easier on the brown sugar on top, but for showoff/sharing purposes, it added just the right amount of pizzazz.) I brought 17 of these to work and had only two left over, so I think they were well received. I’d certainly make them again, on the rare occasion when I want muffins.
The recipe was straightforward, and I followed it to the letter, except that I ran out of cinnamon about 2 teaspoons (a tablespoon is a lot!) and substituted cardamom for the remaining teaspoon. I used Fuji apples and chopped them a bit smaller in an effort to ensure that they cooked all the way through (a few of them remained crispish, though, which is not my favorite texture in baked goods but didn’t seem to bother anyone else).
1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat flour
1 cup (4¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ cup (1 stick; 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
½cup dark brown sugar, packed, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk or yogurt
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease and flour muffin cups (or line them with paper liners) and set aside.
2. Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and add the granulated sugar and ¼ cup of the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well; stop once to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix in the buttermilk gently. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the apple chunks.
3. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling the remaining ¼ cup brown sugar on top. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400 degrees, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Time: 40 minutes
Leftover potential: High. These will remain moist in a sealed container at room temperature for several days, and they can be frozen for longer storage.