The leaves are beginning to change here; the fall foliage creeping in with vibrant bursts of crimson and golden yellow. Autumn has begun in fits and starts. It was in the mid-eighties today, a full twenty degrees warmer than just a few days ago. Summer’s last gasp. My culinary mind, however, is quite stubbornly set to autumn. The Swoon kitchen is filled with the aromas of fall baking, slow-braised stews and hearty, simmering soups.
Inspired by the start of apple season, I over-indulged at the market this week, tempted by the many lovely varieties, beautifully-stacked and practically glowing. Spoiled with apples year-round through the wonders of cold-storage, it’s easy to forget that apples have a season. But they are sweeter, fresher, crisper during the actual fall harvest season, beginning in early-September.
While apples are incredibly versatile in both sweet and savory dishes, the classic combination of apples with cinnamon and sugar is hands-down my very favorite. Sprinkled with a cinnamon-streusel topping and bursting with apple flavor, these indulgent little muffins are somewhere between breakfast and dessert and a sweet way to start the day.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 8 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 cups apples, minced
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 tbs all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbs unsalted butter, cold
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease twelve muffin cups.
- For the streusel: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Using a fork, cut in the butter, until combined, forming small pea-shaped pieces. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves until evenly combined. Set aside.
- Using a stand-up or hand-held electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about two minutes. With the mixer on low-speed, slowly add the eggs, and then the vanilla until combined.
- Stir the apples into the wet ingredients. Slowly add the apple-mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. The batter will be very thick.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins and top with a sprinkling of the streusel mix. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown and a cake-tester comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool for five minutes in the muffin tin before removing and cooling on a baking rack. Serve warm.