Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Ah, the fall. It’s finally getting chilly, the leaves are falling, and I can wear a jacket out without immediately suffering from heatstroke. I’m excited about the weather and upcoming holidays, among other fall things.

The best part about the fall, though, is that the best fruits and vegetables are now in season! Of course I’m talking apples. Technically, they’re always in season but apples are in their prime in the fall. I’m dying to go apple picking one day. I’d make apple EVERYTHING. Yeah, right; I’d probably eat more than half the apples straight up! Anyway, I planned on making a bunch of apple things this fall and may have a couple more recipes up my sleeve, but let’s start with these muffins.

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I’ve discussed a few times on here how much of a muffin fiend my dad is. While he believes the corn muffin is the “one true muffin,” he can’t really say no to anything apple related. Apple cinnamon is one of his favorite combos for pastries. I’m talking turnovers, danishes, pies, whatever. Out of all of those things, I’ve only attempted one and did not get his seal of approval. Sad, but I’m working on it!

I decided on muffins for my first apple entry this year because of my dad, and because I wanted to switch things up a bit. Last year, I made an apple cake (from one of my favorite bloggers) that went over really well. I wanted to remake that success but in miniature form. The muffins themselves are actually pretty simple, which almost guarantees its deliciousness.

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Before I get into the muffins themselves, let me wax poetic about these liners. If you’ve been following me since last fall, you know how I feel about muffins in cupcake liners. They’re a no go for me. Now, the recipe states to use these things and then grease them. WHO DOES THAT?! How do you even grease a cupcake liner? I don’t know but that doesn’t make sense to me AT ALL. I went to Target (holy grail) a couple months ago and bought these liners, in preparation for some cupcakes I had planned. I didn’t use them to make the cupcakes (go figure) but considered them for these muffins. I had a mini internal debate right before it but I went ahead and used them. Since they’re parchment, I skipped the greasing (still a weird concept to me but okay).

Can I just say these things are the biggest blessing to my non-cupcake-liners-for-muffins heart? OMG NOTHING STUCK TO THESE LINERS. N O T H I N G. I was amazed, thrilled, and surprised with the result. I mean, see for yourself. The muffins came clean off the liner. I got to enjoy the ENTIRE muffin, without a single crumb sticking to the liner. Very impressive, Target. Four for you.

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Back to the muffins. They were awesome. Just the right amount of cinnamon and apples. I should’ve cut the chunks a tad smaller, but will keep that in mind for the next recipe. The cinnamon sugar topping goes perfectly well with these muffins, considering the muffin itself isn’t that sweet. It was fluffy and moist too, thanks to the buttermilk. Besides the fact that the muffins were delicious, I was way too impressed with the functionality of these liners. I’m still impressed, actually.

For my first apple recipe this season, I think it went pretty well. I can’t wait to see what else I can come up with!

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Apple Cinnamon Muffins – adapted from King Arthur Flour

Makes 12-16 muffins

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, divided (1/2 cup + 1/4 cup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken (not stirred)
  • 1 cup whole wheat Flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apples (about 2 large apples, about 3/4 pound whole apples)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup muffin pan, or line with magical parchment cupcake liners and skip the greasing all together. No magical liners? Grease regular paper liners instead. 

  2. Mix together the butter, granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, beating until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well, stopping once to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

  3. Gently mix in the buttermilk. At this point, the batter will look curdled and gross. It’s supposed to, so keep going!

  4. Stir in the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Fold in the chopped apples.

  5. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar on top. Bake the muffins for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

  6. Remove the muffins from the oven, cool them for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn them out onto a rack to finish cooling completely.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • Get those magical liners. Worth every penny!
  • I tossed my apple chunks in a bit of cinnamon and flour before folding them into the batter. The cinnamon was for extra flavor but the flour was so the apples wouldn’t sink to the bottom of the muffin. 
  • Top the muffins with the sugar topping a tad sparingly. Melted sugar is a pain to get off the pan, just saying. 
  • Use a disher or ice cream scoop to help evenly distribute the batter among the pans. Helps get consistent muffins, and ensures they’ll all be done at the same time. 
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Sweet Corn Muffins

Corn muffins are my dad’s absolute favorite kind of baked good. If he ever went to Muffin World, a fictional land where all kinds of muffins are laid before you to devour, he’d chose the corn muffin every single time. He even says that the corn muffin is the “true” muffin, whatever that means. Since realizing my dad’s infatuation with his beloved corn muffins, I knew I had to try to make them myself.

We go grocery shopping together once a month, and he used to buy a box of corn muffins from the supermarket’s bakery. These muffins were bigger than regular supermarket muffins. They were HUGE. Like, bigger than the palm of my hand huge. Every morning for breakfast, he’d eat half of one until they were all gone.

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Ever since I started baking, I began looking for and testing several different corn muffin recipes. The first few recipes were either too dry or not sweet enough. They weren’t the muffin he was used to, and would pretty much tell me to my face that they weren’t. Frustrated with the outcomes, I stopped looking altogether for something better until recently. My dad asked me a couple weeks ago to make him a batch of corn muffins. I happily obliged, and began the search; disregarding any recipes I had already tried.

I am so glad I stumbled upon this recipe. Stacey, over at Southern Bite, says that these muffins are similar to Jiffy corn muffins. You know, those little blue boxes of dry mix that are sold in supermarkets for crazy cheap, and come out about as dry as the mix itself? Those. My dad actually liked them, considering the little baking he used to do was from box mixes. Knowing he loved those muffins, and that these were similar, I went ahead with this recipe.

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I feel like saying that these muffins tasted like the ones produced by that box mix was unfair. They SO DO NOT. They are tender, and crumbly, and just generally really tasty. There is just the right amount of sugar, not too sweet that they’d be cupcakes but not savory enough to be considered cornbread. These corn muffins were so good, I made them twice; and doubled the recipe both times. My dad was the ultimate deciding factor and I definitely got his thumbs up. Sure, they aren’t the huge muffins he used to buy, but they are definitely an acceptable replacement.

The best part about these muffins? They come together in a matter of minutes. If you need something different for your Thanksgiving table, try these muffins instead of those canned rolls or biscuits. I’m positive these will go well with your turkey and cranberry sauce.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sweet Corn Muffins – adapted from Southern Bite

Makes 11 muffins

  • 1 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of yellow corn meal
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 tbsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease your muffin pans, or use liners if you’re into that.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the all of the dry ingredients. Mix to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Add the oil and milk. Whisk to combine.
  4. Gently pour the wet mix into the dry. Mix until just combined.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop or a large spoon, pour the muffin mix into each well of the muffin pan.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • I decided against liners for these muffins, and rightfully so. 
  • I also made these once with all butter and found they tasted better. My dad preferred these ones with oil, so these are the standby. 
  • I got 11 muffins both times. Throw yourself a party and invite me if you actually get 12. 

Pumpkin Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

I wasn’t going to make this post. I made these muffins over the weekend, on a whim, and had kind of less than stellar results. But because I am compelled to share everything, here is my latest kitchen failure.

I still have some homemade pumpkin puree and am still looking for awesome things to put it in. I already tried it in oatmeal and in scones, so the next logical move was muffins. I’m on a bit of a muffin kick, so I was excited for these. I looked around for the perfect muffin recipe, and upon seeing this gem on Two Peas & Their Pod, I knew I had to make them.

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I decided on these muffins for two reasons: oat streusel and brown sugar filling. I love oatmeal, so that was a no brainer. And then the filling. THE FILLING. Who doesn’t love a baked goodie with a surprise in the center? No one, and anyone who says they hate fillings is basically a liar. Anyway, I made these babies with tender love and care, and was excited for the results. I watched them bake in the oven (through the glass, of course), waiting for time to be up so I can promptly stuff my face with a hot muffin.

Here’s where my muffins went wrong. Realistically speaking, muffins are unfrosted cupcakes. Of course, cupcakes are usually found in paper liners. When I make muffins, I usually forgo the liners because most muffin recipes are moister than cupcakes and a large amount tends to stick to the liner. What’s the point of eating a muffin if half of it stays on the liner? NONE. There is no point. So, I opted against the liners. Big mistake. These muffins were so moist and fragile, I could barely get them out of the buttered pan unscathed. I stood in front of the muffin tins, hands sticky with muffin crumbs, feeling slightly defeated. I even popped them into the freezer for a couple of minutes to try to salvage at least one picture perfect one. That didn’t help me much, either. I let them cool completely, before I tried removing them.

Even after completely cooled, it was a careful operation. The tops wanted to break off the muffin, mostly because part of it stayed stuck on the top of the muffin tin (and because I may have over streuseled. Is that even a word? It should be).  When I did manage to unstick the muffin top off the pan, and my paring knife in the muffin well to coax the muffin out, it wanted to disintegrate in my hands because of the brown sugar filling. It was still soft and damp, and it wanted to tear the muffin apart. I fought the hard fight and managed to get all 14 out, even though I had some minor casualties.

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The muffins were ridiculously moist and sweet. You don’t really taste the pumpkin, which is fine if you have picky family members who think pumpkin anything is too mushy (ahem, dad), but the warmth and feel of anything pumpkin related is still there. The brown sugar filling was a nice and sweet surprise that guaranteed the muffin would remain moist. Finally, the oatmeal streusel. OMG it tasted like a cookie. It felt like three desserts in one, which is a-okay in my book.

Despite my novice fails, a muffin is the perfect vehicle for pumpkin. Just remember that some muffins do require a liner, despite their unfrosted appearance.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Streusel Muffins – adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

Makes 14 muffins

Muffin Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin or homemade pumpkin puree
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Filling:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Streusel Topping:

  • 1 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin tins with paper liners or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, water, pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth and combined.
  4. Slowly stir in the flour mixture. Mix until ingredients are combined.
  5. For the brown sugar cinnamon filling: in a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together. Set aside.
  6. For the streusel topping: in a small bowl mix together the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix in the butter with your hands until the mixture is crumbly.
  7. Fill muffin cups half way full with the pumpkin batter. Sprinkle the brown sugar cinnamon filling over each half filled muffin cup. Fill the muffins cups with the remaining batter. Top each muffin with streusel topping.
  8. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and cool on a wire rack. Remove muffins from tins and enjoy.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • Use the liners. For the love of all that’s tasty and delicious, USE THE LINERS. Don’t do as I did, do as I say. It’ll make for easy removal, even if you may have to lick the liner to get the rest of your muffin. 
  • I used about a 1/4 less of the brown sugar for the filling, may even go lower next time. You can use as much as a full cup of brown sugar. 
  • If using homemade pumpkin puree, I’d forgo the water in the recipe (which was something I should’ve done) because canned pumpkin puree is dryer than the fresh stuff. 
  • I used one extra large egg, as it’s what I have at home. The original recipe calls for two eggs. Large eggs are standard in most recipes, so assume that you’ll need large eggs unless stated otherwise. For more on the egg thing, read this post from Joy the Baker. 
  • Before baking, I would suggest sprinkling a little bit of kosher or sea salt on top of the streusel. The sprinkle of salt will probably enhance the overall flavor of the muffin, as well as the streusel. I will do this next time, as this sounds freakin’ delicious. 

Zucchini Bread and a Trip to the Farmer’s Market

This summer has been a hot one! With so much sweat and stickiness, baking (and cooking) seems like an overwhelming feat. Since my last post, I’ve been mulling over what my first recipe post was going to be. I obviously wanted to start out with something sweet but this heat was discouraging me. Determined to share something with you guys, I finally decided on what I wanted to make.

My sister and I started our weekly pilgrimage to the greenmarket in our neighborhood every Thursday a couple of weeks ago. New York City hosts greenmarkets all over the city during the summer months that end right before Thanksgiving. I look forward to the arrival of our local greenmarket every summer; located about 10 city blocks from our apartment building. We trek out every Thursday, sometimes in the sweltering heat, and are instantly greeted with an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, baked goods, and people. We usually stock up on fresh goodies like kale, cherries, corn and zucchini.

I didn’t really eat vegetables until a couple years ago. Now, I know what you’re thinking; how can you not have eaten vegetables?! Well, I grew up on a pretty limited diet that excluded anything green (unless it was ketchup). I was a very picky eater and mostly stuck to white rice, chicken breast, and bananas. This limited diet obviously wasn’t doing me any favors, and coupled with inactivity, lead to weight gain. It wasn’t until I committed to losing weight and eating healthy a few years ago, that I branched out to include vegetables as part of my daily diet.

One of the first vegetables I tried was zucchini. The varieties of summer squash intrigued me, leading me to choose the popular and green zucchini. Careful that I did not end up buying cucumbers, I set out to try to cook and eat them. I actually loved them! I’d bake them, saute them, make fries out of them, throw them in lasagna; the options were endless. Its mild taste and soft nature when cooked fascinated me. It wasn’t until recently that I welcomed the idea of baking it in a cake. Well, bread but you get the idea.

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed last night and stumbled across Food52’s post on zucchini bread. Food 52 is a great resource for recipes and if you haven’t checked them out, you should! I checked out the recipe and immediately got excited when I realized I had all of the ingredients. Normally, I’d be wary of testing a recipe like this but I can’t help but want to try it.

This was my first attempt at making a zucchini bread. I wasn’t wary because I have already had success with my signature carrot cake (a recipe I will share soon). It came out moist and ridiculously delicious. It was surprisingly popular with my picky father and is all gone already!

Please visit the Food52 website (and the original blogger’s page) for the beautiful story that accompanies this recipe!

Cooled bread.  Instagram: lalaluluj

Cooled bread.
Instagram: lalaluluj

Grandma’s Zucchini Bread – Good Things Grow via Food52

Makes 2 loafs

  • 3 cups whole wheat or all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cups canola or coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease two 5×9-inch loaf pans and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
  3. In a large bowl mix eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Stir in the grated zucchini.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet and stir just until the flour is incorporated. Stir in the walnuts and dried fruit if using.
  5. Pour equal parts of the batter into each loaf pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack, then slice and serve.

Lucy’s Tips: 

  • I used my large loaf pan to make this recipe without any scaling. The original recipe is for two small loaves, which happily fit into my pan. 
  • I also used only raisins, instead of the dried cranberries and walnuts. I must admit, it’d be fabulous with walnuts. 
  • I added the raisins to my dry ingredients, so they wouldn’t all sink to the bottom of the loaf. 
  • I baked this in my toaster oven at 350F, on the bake setting for about 50 minutes. I turned up the temp to 400F and baked it for 5-10 minutes more because it was still undercooked in the middle. 
  • If baking in a toaster oven, please watch the cake! Make sure it is baked all the way through and watch out for dry spots.