I’d say it’s about time to kick some baking into gear on this website. I’ve been looking forward to this for a good long while now and I’ll tell you, I’m not going to wait anymore. So I think I’ll start things off with some wickedly good brown sugar and cinnamon apple muffins.
I haven’t done much baking in my life, but from what I experienced last night, I think it has a bright future in our kitchen. It’s fun, the reward is tasty and the results are extremely kind to the camera. I was a bit nervous about how the ultimate outcome would appear on the computer, but as I was flipping through the shots I managed to get, I was surprised at the detail and interest. No wonder so many folks out there enjoy baking so much.
This recipe comes from Cooks Country. As I mentioned earlier, I recently became a member of this wonderful website and just as luck would have it, this simple recipe is my first attempt into the world of sweets. I’ve got a lot more in my favorites folder, so hold onto your hats.
At first, I was somewhat intimidated by this recipe. I read through the steps and it seemed like a lot. After a while though, my mind realized that there were really only a few steps. Ingredient combinations, if you will. Once the ingredients are paired up, all that’s necessary is to pour the batter into the muffin tin and bake.
Serves: makes 6 muffins
For the Topping
2 Tablespoons Regular White Sugar
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
For the Muffins
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (4 melted and 2 unmelted)
2 Granny Smith Apples, Peeled, Chopped into 1/4 Inch Pieces
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
3/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon (divided 1/4 teaspoon and 1/2 teaspoon)
2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/4 Teaspoons Salt
1 Cup Regular White Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Apple Cider
1/2 Cup Plain Whole-Milk Yogurt
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
This is one of those recipes that offers a boost of flavor from the apple cider and the yogurt. If you’re used to muffins that are made with water, you’re in for a treat.
Prepare the Topping
Combine the 2 tablespoons of white sugar, the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and the 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon into a small bowl and mix with a fork. Set aside for later use.
From what I can gather, there is an issue with apple cakes and muffins being too soggy when cooked because of all the moisture the apples contain. The recipe I used suggested that we cook down the apples a bit to reduce some of that moisture. So, you’ll need to melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a nice large skillet over medium-high heat. Then, once melted, add the 2 granny smith apples that you chopped into 1/4 inch pieces. After that, add the 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the apples have somewhat reduced in size and have released some of that moisture. You’ll need to stir frequently during this step.
I used my new All-Clad skillet for this step and it was perfect. When the apples are finished softening, remove them from heat and set aside.
Combine Flour Mixture
In a large bowl (you’ll eventually use this bowl to hold all ingredients, so make sure it’s large enough), combine the 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, the 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, the 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and the last 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. I used a whisk for this step and it worked well because the ingredients were dry.
Combine Sugar Mixture
In another bowl (this one can be smaller than the last), combine the 1 cup of regular white sugar (granulated), the 2 large eggs, the 1/4 cup of vegetable oil (I used pure olive oil) and the 4 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter. To stir, I again used a whisk because these ingredients were still thin enough to work with.
What you should have here is a bright yellow, not too thick liquid.
Finish Sugar Mixture
To finish up the sugar mixture, you’ll need to whisk in the 1/2 cup of apple cider, the 1/2 cup of yogurt and the 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Make sure it’s all combined very well.
As you can see from the photo above, these final three ingredients lightened up this mixture a bit.
Depending on the speed of your oven, this is probably a good time to pre-heat it to 400 degrees. Also, you’ll be baking these muffins in the upper-middle position, so adjust your rack accordingly.
Combine Flour, Sugar & Apples
The time has come to combine almost everything together. I say almost everything, because we don’t want to touch the topping yet. So, for this step, add the apples that are currently sitting in your skillet to the flour mixture. Also, add the sugar mixture that is sitting in the smaller bowl to the flour mixture as well. Mix with a spatula. I used one for this step and it was a pleasure to work with. I kept scraping down the sides of the bowl and folding all the ingredients in on top of themselves.
Prepare Muffin Tin
The original recipe calls for spraying the muffin tin generously with vegetable oil spray. Since I try not to eat anything that gets sprayed out of a can, I merely added about a half teaspoon of pure olive oil to each cup of the tin and spread it around with my finger to coat the bottom and sides nicely. This technique worked well. When said and done, nothing stuck to the tin at all.
Add Batter to Muffin Tin
For this step, you’ll need to evenly divide all the batter you have into a 6 cup muffin tin. The original recipe calls for using a 12 cup tin, but I have an aversion to tiny muffins. Each cup in my 6 cup tin holds about twice as much as the cups in the 12 cup tins hold. After adding the batter to the cups, they should be filled almost to the top.
At this point, you can evenly distribute the sugar topping on top of the muffin batter in each cup of the tin. Be sure to add a little to one cup and then move to the next. You can go around and around adding a bit each time. What you don’t want to do is add too much to the first few cups and then run out towards the last. Also, be sure to get the edges. You’ll want a nice even coating all over the top of each muffin.
Get your toothpick ready because you’ll need it. Go ahead and place the muffin tin on the upper-middle rack of your oven and let bake for about 20 minutes. Keep your eye on the topping because you don’t want it to get too dark. You want it to brown, but not too much. At the 15 minute mark, stick a toothpick into the center of the muffin and remove. If it has batter stuck to it, keep baking. Do this every minute or so until you don’t see any batter on the toothpick. When that happens, remove the tray from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.
The Final Product
These muffins really came out nicely. I was surprised when I saw them rising in the oven and at how great they looked when they were finished. Like I said above, they weren’t difficult to photograph at all.
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