13 March 2011

First time's a charm ... again

The muffin obsession continues apace.

apple-nutmeg muffins

I fiddle obsessively with recipes, reducing sugar with abandon, increasing spices with impunity, and shuffling ingredients as the whim suits me. However, I have only recently started building recipes from scratch, and although it has increased my rate of epic failure in the kitchen, there is little that's more exciting than starting with little more than an idea and ending up with breakfast.

This idea was born, in part, out of necessity. I was sitting at home, alone, with a few good books and a craving for muffins. I had a few apples that had been sitting in the crisper drawer for far too long—while I appreciate their longevity, the shriveled skin that apples develop after a long rest leaves them good for baking and little else—some wheat pastry flour that I've been experimenting with sporadically, and half a nutmeg.

I stirred and grated, holding my pen between my teeth and jotting down notes when I had a moment. It was like a moment out of a movie when I took the pan out of the oven. The muffins weren't flat or rock-hard; nor had they run over into a blackened mess. They looked ... like muffins.

muffins with streusel

Carefully plucked out of the pan and cooled to won't-quite-burn-your-fingers temperature, I pulled one apart. Success! The crumb was fine and moist, streaked with bits of coarsely-grated apple. The wheat flour provided body and a toothsome flavor, and the nutmeg and mace combined with not-too-much sugar for delicate flavor.

I wish every random craving had such fine results—but until then, I will counter each flop with a batch of muffins to take the edge off.

Apple-Nutmeg Muffins

For the streusel:

3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons brown sugar
6-8 tablespoons flour

For the muffins:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or ½ cup whole wheat and an additional ½ cup all-purpose)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ freshly ground nutmeg
½ mace (or additional nutmeg)
pinch cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 cup grated apple, lightly packed (from one quite large or two smaller apples; I used Gala)
½ cup butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Butter the cups of a muffin pan or line it with paper liners; set aside.

To make the streusel, melt the butter, then stir in the brown sugar. Add the first 6 tablespoons flour, mix well, and add additional flour if necessary to make a crumbly texture; set aside.

Mix both flours, leavening, salt, spices, and sugars in a large bowl. Add the apple, butter, egg, and buttermilk and mix just until combined—the batter will be lumpy. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups and sprinkle liberally with streusel.

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown, turning the pan once during the cooking time. Remove from the tin and cool on a rack; serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes a dozen


  1. Yummy! Way to go! i know about epic failures in the kitchen after yesterday. I set out to make some form of a flour tortilla, but it was a huge flop so i tried to turn that into a cracker recipe, and that flopped too....so it goes. And it rained all day :(

  2. Anonymous21/3/11 09:45

    Nutmeg and mace - is it 1/2 teaspoon each? Thanks.

  3. Anonymous - 1/2 teaspoon each of nutmeg and mace, but if you don't have mace, just increase the nutmeg to 1 full teaspoon.

    I like the subtle differences between nutmeg (the actual seed) and mace (the outer coating, or aril), but I know some people's spice cabinets aren't as full as mine!

  4. you have channeled my week! i shall try these with applesauce (fingers crossed, fiddling in stride), and also, if you can believe it, have flour tortillas on my "to do" list.