Thursday, November 10, 2011
The yearly fall pilgrimage to the Hood River Valley to stock up on apples. I love it out there this time of year after the fall harvest festivities are over. The visitors go home, and a calm settles over the valley.
You have the fields and orchards all to yourself.
And of course, you have all that fruit to yourself. In addition to the countless varieties of apples, pears, and winter squash, this year there were new crops of walnuts and hazelnuts for inspiration.
Inspiration such as these cinnamon-scented apple muffins with walnut streusel topping…
Apple Crumb Muffins
Nonstick pan spray, optional
10 ounces all-purpose flour
8 ounces light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ ounces walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus 4 ounces (1 stick), melted
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
8 ounces milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Braeburn apples, peeled and diced
Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Grease a jumbo 6-cup muffin pan with nonstick pan spray or line with paper liners.
Whisk together 2 ounces of the flour, 3 ounces of the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the nuts in a medium bowl. Add the room temperature butter and, using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture holds together in clumps.
Whisk together the remaining 8 ounces of flour, 5 ounces of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs, milk, melted butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the apples. Divide the batter among the muffin cups and spread the nut mixture evenly over the muffins. Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, or until the edges of the muffins start to shrink away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Invert onto a cooling rack and finish cooling completely.
Makes 6 jumbo muffins. Can also be made in a standard 12-cup muffin pan—just adjust the baking time accordingly. Any variety of cooking apple may be used instead of the Braeburns. Muffins keep well and stay moist for 2 to 3 days in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place.