Apple and muscovado muffins

On a Friday afternoon baking whim, I figured I’d get some lazy weekend breakfasts ready and waiting. These began as a Rachel Allen recipe for rhubarb muffins (from her Home Cooking book), but I was rhubarb-less, couldn’t be bothered to pop to the shops and it’s not in season anyway. My eyes landed on the one measly, just-about-to-go-soft apple in my fruit bowl. Hmmm….

I also swapped the type of sugar, whacked in some nuts, replaced the buttermilk with bog-standard semi-skimmed, and went a bit mental with the cinnamon. They’ve emerged from the oven glorious, golden and autumnal! I’m very pleased with their open texture, the moistness of the apple and the subtle caramel sweetness from the muscovado. A few improvements could be made (see end of recipe) but I won’t be dwelling on those when I tuck into these on the morrow.

Makes 12

50g dark brown muscovado sugar
100g caster sugar
1 egg
100ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp sunflower oil
100g peeled and chopped apple (weighed after preparing)
50g chopped nuts (whatever type – I guess walnuts would be nice)
175g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
ground cinnamon, for dusting (if you like it)

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Pop twelve muffin cases into muffin tins.

My muscovado had clumped up horribly in the cupboard so I whizzed it in my mini food processor to get it back into granules. Then I added the caster and whizzed them together to get them nicely mixed.

Once you’ve mixed the two sugars, 125g goes into a mixing bowl with the egg, milk, vanilla and sunflower oil. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until it’s combined, smooth and golden brown. Then stir in the chopped apple and nuts.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt on top, and fold them gently in with a wooden spoon; use long, smooth movements and do this as quickly and efficiently as you can – too much stirring causes dense disaster muffins!

Spoon the mixture equally into the cases, each about two-thirds full. Sprinkle the rest of the mixed sugar on top. If you like cinnamon, take a generous pinch and sprinkle this all over the muffins too.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 18–20 minutes. The muffins will be risen and golden brown with slightly glazed tops from the sugar. Leave to cool and then, if you want, dust with more cinnamon.

Notes for next time

▪ Hmmm, where are my chopped nuts? I used the end of a packet of chopped mixed nuts, ready-chopped into pretty small little cubes. Now and then I get a tiny bit of crunch, but it’s not enough for me. So next time I’ll be using whole nuts roughly chopped into much larger pieces. And I think walnuts or pecans could be good.

▪ The apple is delicious but I could probably get away with an extra 25g without making the muffins too soggy.

▪ I only have a 6-hole muffin tin, but I do also own a 12-hole cupcake tin. Being lazy, I couldn’t be bothered with two batches, so I did them all at once, with half of the cases in the ‘proper’ tin, and the rest in the cupcake tin. Alas! Muffins are better in muffin tins. The deeper holes keep the cases more supported and upright, making for perkier muffins with a nice rise, beautifully flush with the crenellated edge of the case. The ones in the cupcake tin have minimal support at the sides, so they spread out wider and flatter and with a good centimetre of the inside of the case on show. No difference to taste, of course, but less attractive to a muffin perfectionist. 

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