(Ha, spellcheck tried to turn ‘streusel’ into ‘stressful’. I can’t imagine muffins being stressful. Really? They are anti-stressful if you ask me. The cure for stress. A couple of these and some tea? Or a glass of milk or even coffee…)
First, Happy Mothers Day to all Mothers, grandmothers, foster mothers, God mothers, and anyone involved in mothering.
Since it was Mothers day, I figured I would make some of my own personal favorite muffins, apple walnut, although I do not have a go-to recipe really, like I do for some other recipes. This one is always hit and miss. So I dug through some of my favorite baking books.
This one is a hit!
But with a few warnings.
This recipe, the way I wrote it, requires you to make choices. So hone up on your decision making skills now. Hand mixer or standing? Higher heat or lower? Be not afraid! Boldly choose and move on. You will soon be in muffin joy.
Then: READ DIRECTIONS-READ INGREDIENTS- AHEAD OF TIME!
For heavens sake! Even after all my baking experience, I still manage to blithely skip an ingredient here and there. Baking soda? Really? Muffins need baking soda? Of course they do, sheesh.
Before you bakers say “Oh no! You didn’t!” I did remember to put in baking powder. (whew!) But it called for both baking soda and baking powder. It just didn’t put the ingredients together in the list and somehow my eyes just skimmed over it like some kind of Harry Potter magic. Bloop, straight to salt. (At least I remembered the salt. ALWAYS remember the salt, especially with bread. This is not bread so I might not have noticed if I forgot the salt, but soda…)
The muffins didn’t puff very much. I peeked into the oven and watched through the stained glass as they baked into little uninspiring muffins. (Not like ‘stained glass’, the pretty kind. My oven does not have that kind of stained glass, really? But stained glass. The burnt on oil and food kind.) I was a bit disappointed and it made me curious. After I put them on the rack to cool, I went back to the recipe. Then I had that ‘Ah-ha’ moment.
Funny thing is, I still had some left over batter. This recipe makes about 16 muffins. (At least it admitted it made 16 muffins. I can’t count how many recipes says “makes 12 muffins” and then you end up with all this extra batter, clearly enough for several more. What, do they make jumbo muffins? Do they just think you wont notice all that left over batter?)
So I decided to mix in some baking soda to help out the baking powder for the last 4 muffins. (Which actually turned into 5. More HP Magic I guess). Not the full amont of course, since there was just a bit of batter left, but some.
Then I upped the oven temp. The recipe called for 375 degrees but as we all know muffins like the heat. A nice drink on a hot beach, thats what muffins want. So I nudged it up to 400. They could even take 425, but I settled.
So I scooped batter into the muffin cups, added the streusel, because streusel makes everything better, and put them in the oven.
Voila!! Beautiful, light, domed muffins. Perfect tender streusel. Moist with apples, crunchy with walnuts. The perfect apple walnut muffins. Happy Mother Day to me! And anyone else who wants to share the muffins.
The difference was so amazing it made me wonder. Could that be all from the baking soda?
Was it helped by the oven being hotter?
I have even heard that when muffin batter rests a bit before baking, it domes higher. I only have 1 muffin pan left at the moment and so these last 5 muffins had to wait until the first batch was done. So they had at least a 20 minute rest. Could that be the reason?
The world may never know. And I am not the test kitchen. I am not about to make batch after batch, experimenting each time, tweeking the recipe. We’d all die of muffin overload! Besides, pretty soon they will all be gone, all deliciously munched on, and no one will care if they were domed or squat or had beautiful nubbys of streusel on top.
Whatever the reason, the next batch of 5 came out more muffin looking, more muffin splendor. They were all just as delicious. (ask me how I know. But don’t ask how many I’ve eaten. Thats strictly between me and my clothes that are going to be tight this week.)
This recipe came from the book by Carole Walter called “Great coffee cakes, sticky buns, muffins and more”. I got this book years ago from the library and saw so many things in it I wanted to make, I immediately bought my own copy. She is the streusel queen for one thing. Then her Chocolate Glazed Midnight Muffins are decadent and wonderful. Her streusel, her fillings, her scones…its all wonderful.
The easiest way to not forget an ingredient is to get them all out ahead of time and put them away as you use them. Then when you are done, if there is still an ingredeint sitting there on the counter…you may still have time to save it.
SAM’S OODLES OF APPLE MUFFINS WITH COUNTRY CRUMB TOPPING
Country Crumb Topping (aka, streusel)
(Yes, all these ingredients here are just for the topping. But its wonderful stuff!)
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 dark brown sugar (she says “very fresh”.?)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 7 tablespoons soft butter (recipe calls for unsalted. I use whatever.)
Now you might ask, as I did, “Why 7 tablespoons of butter, why not a whole cube?” and the answer is when you use a whole cube, as I of course tried to do a few years back, it just came out wrong. Too wet and melty. So rather than try to figure out the dry ratio change to add in that last Tbsp. of butter, I just use 7 Tbsp, like it says.
Combing everything but the butter into a mixing bowl and whisk together.
Add the soft butter to the bowl and work through with your fingertips until the mixture begins to form course crumbs. (A person could use a pastry cutter as well. I just find the digging in and squishing to be very satisfying, harking back to my mud pie days.) Gently squeeze the mixture with your hand to form larger lumps, then break them apart with your fingertips.
let stand for 10-15 minutes.
- about 3 apples (1 lb.)McIntosh or Granny Smith or Fuji…
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I cheated and substituted 1/2 cup whole wheat)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar (again “very fresh”. Did someone have a bad brown sugar experience in her past?)
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (I threw in a few drops of butterscotch flavor too, just for fun).
- 1/4 cup (half stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (and yes, you can use salted)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup dark raisins, plumped (or golden raisins or in my case, Craisins)
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans. (I used untoasted walnuts. Ran out of time).
Now this recipe was chosen because I wanted to try something other than just ‘dump together and bake”. Just giving you a heads up. I used a hand mixer although it calls for a standing mixer. Either would do I am sure.
Preheat oven for, I suggest, 400. Although she says 375. Either will work.
Peel and core the apples. Cut into 8ths and put into a food processor, pulsing 8-10 times to get about 1/4″ chunks.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
In a standing mixer bowl or other large bowl, with a whip attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high until lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the cup of brown sugar a little at a time, taking about 2 minutes and then beat the mixture for 1 more minute, just to be thorough.
Stop the machine (or just stop mixing) and add in the honey and vanilla. Turn the mixer on to medium speed and mix to combine. In another small bowl, which together the melted butter and oil and pour into the egg mixture in a steady stream, taking about 1 minute to mix it in. Add the apples and blend well.
Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and add the dry ingredients all at once, blending just until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a silicon spatula, fold in the raisins (or whatever) and nuts.
Now you have 3 choices. 1) Scoop the muffin batter right now into the pan. 2) Let the batter rest a bit (minutes, hours) before scooping and baking. 3) Scoop the batter into the muffin papers, then let rest a while before putting in oven. Those are your choices, don’t be afraid.
I use a scoop but either way, scoop of spoon muffin batter into a pan lined with muffin papers. Top with your set-aside crumb topping, about 2 Tbsp. per muffin.
Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes until topping starts to get golden brown.
Or bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes, checking until the topping starts to get golden brown. I suggest rotating the pans back to front about half way through. The back of the ovens do get so hot and those back muffins bake faster.
If you have 2 pans (lucky you) go ahead and bake them all at once. Rotate the pans both front to bake AND top to bottom.
Take out and cool a bit. Eat warm, cool, warmed back up, in your jammies, in a dress, in the tub, in the car, with a goat, in a boat…any way you want them.