Apple Muffins

apple muffins 1

Apple season is upon us, and as we’ve already discussed that pies are not my favorite thing to make, and after achieving great success with apples in cake form, I turned my focus to the next logical apple vessel: muffins.

I recently inherited a wonderful America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, called the “Quick Family Cookbook.”  While it’s not winning any awards in the style department, it is chock-full of AMAZING recipes.  And, I see that it’s super cheap on amazon.  If you don’t own this book, quickly run to amazon (or your local bookstore, whichever you prefer to support) and pick up a copy right now.  Like, “now,” as in before you even finish reading this post.

Do it.

Anyway, back to the muffins!

They require ingredients that you probably have on hand and very minimal effort, and  what you get in return is a light, flavorful muffin packed with apple flavor.  This muffin is light enough that it won’t make you feel guilty about going in for a second one, and flavorful enough to sate even the strongest apple craving.

 

Apple Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups applesauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees and prepare a 12-cup muffin tin (either grease or line with liners)
  2. 1. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt to combine.
  3. 2. In a separate bowl, mix the applesauce, vanilla, and sugar. Whisk in the melted butter until smooth, then whisk in the eggs one at a time, being careful not to overmix. .
  4. 3. Gently fold the applesauce mixture into the flour mixture just until combined. It might be a little lumpy, that's OK.
  5. 4. Portion batter into prepared muffin cups, Bake 15 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool slightly before removing from the pan.

Notes

These are great with a sprinkle with sugar or cinnamon sugar (because what doesn't taste better with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar?) For my usual cinnamon-sugar, I mix 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with 1 Tablespoon of sugar).s - sprinkle on top of muffins before putting them into the oven.

Try adding chunky applesauce or some apple chunks to boost up the apple-appeal even further.

http://wee-eats.com/2013/10/29/apple-muffins/

[ Adapted from The America's Test Kitchens Quick Family Cookbook ]

apple cake tatin

apple cake 0568

Now, I’ve never been a huge ‘pie’ girl.  All the rolling and cutting and par-baking and fussing… I just don’t have that kind of energy (generally speaking).  As ashamed as I am to admit it… when I do bake a pie, it’s often with the aid of a store-bought crust.   I know, I should probably just go kill myself now.  Especially when we have such dedicated bakers who make such marvelous pies and poor Ms. Natalie can’t be bothered to run her food processor for 30 seconds and wait for the dough to chill after rolling it out.

I should just throw myself off of a cliff.

So when apple pie season rolls in and you’re not a huge pie person but you still want to serve a delightfully autumnal dessert, what’s a girl like me to do?

Cake!

apple cake

FYI: I find that in much of life’s dilemmas, the answer is usually cake.

I spotted this cake ages ago on an episode of Barefoot Contessa, and it’s been sitting in the back of my brain ever since.  Just gnawing at my willpower.  Whispering from my subconscious to my brain, “make me…”  So, I did!

It basically ends up like a caramel apple upside-down cake, which isn’t as fancy as Ina’s title of “apple cake tatin”, but let’s be realistic here.  This is a caramel apple cake.  I’d bet it’s best served warm with a scoop of melty vanilla ice cream, but a cold slice for breakfast is enjoyable as well.

I mean, it’s healthy… “apple a day” or something like that.

Apple Cake Tatin

Ingredients

  • *6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • *1 1/4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
  • *1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • *2 large eggs, room temperature
  • *1/3 cup sour cream
  • *1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • *1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • *1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • *1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • *1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • *Confectioners' sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie dish (I used a cake pan lined with parchment) and arrange the apples in the dish, cut side down.
  3. Combine 1 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it turns a warm amber color, and registers about 360 F on a candy thermometer. Swirl the pan but don't stir. Pour evenly over the apple slices. Stare in awe while it bubbles.
  4. In a large bowl, cream the 6 tablespoons of butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix just until combined, being careful not to overmix.
  6. Pour the cake batter evenly over the apple slices and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. If an apple slice sticks, ease it out and replace it in the design on top of the cake. Serve warm with ice cream, or at room temperature.
http://wee-eats.com/2013/10/14/apple-cake-tatin/

[ Adapted from Barefoot Contessa ]

apple and brie bruschetta

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Ok, so I  noticed (after the fact) that I’ve been posting my bruscetta recipes on Tuesdays.

And I’m a total idiot because if I had actually planned it I could have given it a catchy name like, “TOASTY TUESDAY!” or “Tuesday Toast” or … ya know… something with alliteration.

Alliteration is the best.

Anyway, this might actually be the easiest of all the bruschetta recipes because you don’t really have to make anything, you just need to be able to slice an apple without cutting your fingers off.  I realize that this is easier said than done sometimes, but it’s really that easy!

Just spread some super-creamy brie on a piece of toast, top it with a drizzle of honey, and then put your sliced apples on top!  Voila!  I used to drizzle the honey on top, because I thought that looked prettier, but I learned that it’s much neater to put the honey UNDER the apples.  No more sticky honey fingers!

If you love bruschetta as much as I do, you should probably visit my other recipes:

Apple & Brie Bruschetta

Printable Recipe

  • 1 loaf french bread, sliced cross-wise and toasted
  • 2 to 3 medium crisp apples, like granny smith
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • Creamy brie, at room temperature
  • Honey

1.   Slice and toast your bread as desired.  Slice apples and toss with lemon juice to help prevent browning.

2.  Spread each slice with brie while still slightly warm.  Drizzle with honey and top with sliced apples.

3.  Sit back and enjoy!

 

bruschetta-apple-9 pin

apple cider donut cake

Fall is full of apples, and apple orchards, and fresh-pressed cider, and hot apple cider donuts and fresh apple fritters.

For most of the country, at least.

The closest I can get is store-bought apple cider… and this apple cider donut cake, which is delicious, and not deep-fried, and still super full of fall flavors.

The original recipe calls for cooking sliced granny smiths in cider, and pureeing them, and adding that to the cake.  Since my stores apple selection could be described as dismal at best, I decided to replace the fresh pureed apples with applesauce, which also means you make this any time of the year, in any part of the world, because I’m pretty sure that even if you don’t have fresh apples readily available, you will still be able to find some applesauce.

I also added buttermilk to give it a nice, tender crumb, since anyone who may have tried to substitute applesauce in a recipe may know it can make things a little on the “chewy” side.

This cake is like a fresh cider donut, and since it has “donut” in the name that means you are allowed to eat it for breakfast.  And any recipe that allows me to sneak cake into my breakfast regimen is considered a win in my book, especially if you then cover that cake in a layer of sweet cinnamon-sugar.

This cake would be the perfect brunch item, providing you and your guests something to snack on while they wait for your turkey to roast, or it would make a delightful alternative as a Thanksgiving dessert for those of you who don’t care for pumpkin, I know you’re out there.

Apple Cider Donut Cake

[ Printable Recipe ]

For Cake

  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room-temperature, cubed
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • ¾ cup apple cider
  • ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Cinnamon-Sugar Coating

  • 6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare bundt pan with butter or spray.

Put applesauce in liquid measuring cup.  Fill with apple cider to 1 cup mark. Stir to combine. Add buttermilk and vanilla to cider mixture and stir to combine again.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition.  Add oil and continue beating until incorporated.

Decrease mixer speed to low and add flour mixture alternating with apple mixture (flour-cider-flour-cider-flour), scraping down the bowl as needed.  Remember to scrape up from the bottom too to catch any flour pockets that may be hiding down there.

Scrape batter into greased bundt pan and bake 35-45 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto rack, coat with cinnamon sugar mixture (I sprinkled it over the top, then poured into my hand and rubbed onto the sides), leave on rack until it has cooled completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Inspired by Serious Eats ]

caramel apple pie

caramel apple pie 1

Few things are associated with America, fall, or thanksgiving quite like apple pie. There is something about the time of year that requires apple pies to be made. May or may not have something to do with apples being in season… nah, I’m sure it’s completely unrelated. Definitely something to do with pilgrims and indians and apples… then America was made and everyone feasted on apple pie a la mode… yeah, that sounds about right.

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Back east, we have tons of apple orchards, you just go and pick your very own apples, watch some turn into cider, pet some farm animals, get a hot apple fritter, and bring however many pounds of apples you’ve acquired home for fresh apple pie, apple cobbler, apple sauce, or just plain apples.

The apples here are sad when compared to the ones back home, but just like lemonade from lemons, when life gives you apples…. No, don’t make apple-aid. Pie will do just fine. There are a lot of different apple pie camps. Not only is there debate over which apples to use – granny smith, macon, macintosh, golden delicious… So many varieties of apples are available they’ll make your head spin. And then there’s the crust – single crust, double crust, thick or thin crusts… Where’s a girl to start.

Well, for this girl at least, it starts with streusel. Not only does streusel make everything infinity better, it gives this pie a welcome ‘crunch’ that accents the soft apples and makes your mouth go “wow”. Not literally, of course, because then you’d be spilling apple pie out of your mouth, and what a waste of apple pie that would be, I don’t care how shocked you are. Swallow first, then “wow”. There will be no wasting of apple pie in my home. None.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Just when you thought you were done, a drizzle of caramel takes it to the next level  – taking the pie up a notch from “apple pie” to “caramel apple pie”… That’s right. I went there. Mmmm … caramel… (did anyone else hear Homer Simpson in their head?)

For my pie, I used a mixture of pretty much whatever I could get my hands on at the store. The apples here don’t carry the same heft as back home, but they worked out just fine. I used, I believe, 2 granny smiths, 2 macintosh, and perhaps even a pink lady. With the added sweetness of the streusel and caramel though, feel free to stick with the tart granny smith for more flavor contrast. Otherwise, mix and match to your heart’s content.

Caramel Apple Pie

Printable Recipe

For the filling

  • 1 recipe single-crust pie dough
  • 3 tablespoons AP flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 6 c thinly sliced, peeled apples (about 3 large, or 6 small apples)

For streusel

  • 1 c packed brown sugar
  • ½ c AP flour
  • ½ c quick-cooking oats
  • ½ c butter
  • ½ c granulated sugar

For topping

  • ¼ c caramel topping

Preheat oven to 375F and prepare a pie pan for use.

1. Make pie crust and roll dough to 12-inch circle. Transfer to 9” pie plate.

OR … unroll thawed store-bought pie crust… blasphemy, I know

Make the streusel:

  1. Stir together brown sugar, ½ c AP flour and oats and cut in butter until crumbly.

Prepare the apples:

  1. Stir together sugar, 3 tablespoons of flour, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. Add apple slices and toss to coat. Transfer mixture to pie crust & sprinkle w crumb topping.

Bake

  1. Cover edges of pie with crust covers or aluminum foil and bake 25min @ 375F.
  2. Remove foil and bake additional 25 – 30 min until top is golden.
  3. Remove from oven and drizzle with caramel. Cool before serving