GUEST BLOG: Hearty Apple Muffins

Hello world! Katie asked if I’d be interested in guest blogging every once in awhile, and I am thrilled to accept her generous offer.  I’m excited to share some of the things I cook with everyone.  Who am I? Well, I’m a friend of Katie’s.  I grew up mostly vegetarian, so lentils, beans, and baked potatoes are some of my comfort foods.  I’m engaged to a meat-and-potatoes man (Mr. MP, which makes me Mrs. MP-to-be).  We love to cook together, and it ends up being a series of compromises (“Honey, aren’t we going to have a vegetable?” -- “Darling, is there going to be any protein tonight?”).  Local, seasonal produce gets me going; show Mr. MP charred cow flesh, and his heart sings.  Alas.

Yet we are BOTH absolutely crazy about Honeycrisp apples. 

They are the best apples ever.  I love the crunch when you bite into the apple and the rosy skin.  Mr. MP loves the sweetness balanced with acidity.  Ideally this apple is eaten alone, right off the core.  Pick it up, wash it off, bite in and enjoy.  It’s perfection.  They come in big, bigger, and gigantic sizes.  It’s an apple that could be your entire meal—and you wouldn’t even be upset about it.

Sometimes, though, an apple on its own won’t cut it.  Sometimes life gets in the way and you have to go to work - a place where Honeycrisp juice running down my arms and onto legal documents (or my keyboard) does not please my co-workers (or tech support) .  Enter the apple muffin.

My muffin preference generally runs toward a lighter, fluffier muffin that has a low level of sweetness.  (I’m not looking for a round piece of pound cake.  But I do enjoy an individual jalapeno-cheddar cornbread.)  I also enjoy a bit of texture in my muffin, so I frequently substitute some of the flour in a recipe with rolled oats, oatmeal being one of my favorite breakfast foods.  The grated apple adds flavor, moisture, and color (pink skin bits!) to the finished product.

In addition to Honeycrisp, this muffin is about nutmeg.  I think nutmeg has played second-fiddle to cinnamon for far too long.  I adore cinnamon—what would an oatmeal cookie be without it?—but I’m also now a huge fan of nutmeg.  It has a spicy-woodsy-floral aroma that’s more complex, and less sweet, than cinnamon.  Buying it in seed form, not pre-ground, is the best way to go.  I think I really can taste more nutmeg-ness. I also think the pattern you see in the inside of the seed while you grate it is pretty—like Katie, I’m a huge fan of pretty AND delicious.

A few tips: (1) Honeycrisp apples grate quickly, generating a TON of juice, so it’s better to grate into a bowl rather than onto a cutting board.  (2) If you want extra fluffiness, add another ½ teaspoon of baking soda.  (3) If you want more sweetness, add another ¼ cup of brown sugar.  (4) I add water to the empty muffin tins for the second batch so the crumbs left do not burn.

Many thanks to Katie for sharing her space with me- hopefully this won’t be the only time.

Mrs. MP-to-be

Honeycrisp Muffins
Adapted from Deborah Madison’s Basic Buttermilk Muffins in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Makes 12-18 muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup packed dark brown sugar (or more, to taste)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
¼ cup butter, melted
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 Honeycrisp apple, grated, including skin

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Grease the muffin tins, or add liner cups.
Mix all dry ingredients (including sugar) in a large bowl.
Mix all wet ingredients in a second bowl.  Grate apple into the wet bowl.
Add the wet mix into the dry, and combine with a few swift strokes using a spatula to stir the batter up from the bottom of the bowl.  Don’t over-mix the batter—it should look uneven.
Scoop batter into muffin tins, filling each nearly to the top.

Bake in middle of oven until browned, about 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven.  Turn out muffins and serve immediately or let cool on wire rack and then store.

I store in an airtight container for up to one week on the counter.  These freeze well if very well-wrapped.