Last weekend I made my annual journey to St-Joseph-du-Lac, one of the apple picking hot spots in Quebec. The weather was incredible, close to 30 C with the humidity and sunny. Not at all the typical apple picking weather I was expecting. Normally the air up north is cool and crisp at this time of year, instead it was hot and sticky.
There were tons of people out there. We even got stuck in apple picking traffic, who knew there was even such a thing? The traffic was frustrating, but we eventually made it out into the orchard. We repeated last years taste test, and once again decided the Cortland was the way to go. Cortlands were originally bred from McIntosh, but they are firmer and sweeter. They’ll hold their shape in a pie, but you can also make a sauce out of them.
We got our hands on a good ladder and claimed a Cortland tree, then picked 20 lbs for each of us. Hopefully that’ll be enough for all the things I have planned!
When of my favourite things about apple picking is the cider doughnuts. Unfortunately, this years doughnuts were sub par, too greasy, not enough cinnamon sugar. I left the orchard craving something more, something better. The solution was to make them myself, but my deep frying experience has yielded mixed results and I didn’t want another disappointment. Instead I decided to make doughnut muffins with an apple cinnamon filling. The nutmeg in the batter and the cinnamon sugar coating completely satisfied my craving. They really do have the texture of a cake doughnut. The fact that they’re dipped in butter probably helps too.
Though these tasted amazing, I have to say that some of them fell apart when I took then out of muffin tin. I think it was my fault for letting the apple filling spread too much in the muffin, it basically created a complete separation between the layers of batter so the muffin top just came off. If you’re going to fill the muffins like I did make sure to make a little well in the batter for the filling.
Another thing you should know is that they are huge muffins. I adapted this from a Fine Cooking recipe, many of the commenters said they made these in mini muffin tins which I think is a great idea if you’re not using a filling.
Apple Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 4 apples, peeled cored and diced
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp flour
- 3/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 tbsp yogurt
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tsps cinnamon
- 1 cup sugar
- Make the filling: In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Cook stirring often until the apples are tender and release their juices. Add the flour and stir until the juices thicken. Take off the heat and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Make the muffin batter: In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time beating till well combined after each addition. Add the vanilla.
- In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together. Add the flour into the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk and yogurt (you should start and finish with the flour).
- Grease a muffin tin. Scoop half the batter into the muffin tin, make a little well in each muffin and fill each with a tablespoon of the apple filling. Top with the remaining batter.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden and firm to the touch. Let cool completely.
- Mix the sugar and cinnamon together for the topping. Dip the tops of the muffins into the melted butter then dip them into the sugar to coat.
One year ago today I wrote my first post for this blog. When I started I really never thought anyone would read it. For a couple of months I was writing just for myself and the two other people I had told about the blog. Then I discovered Foodbuzz, and was introduced to a wide world of food bloggers. They were kind and supportive, and I like to think that some of the people I’ve “met” through Foodbuzz are my friends.
When I started writing the blog, I had a hard time coming up with what to say. What is it people want to read? Then I came across this quote:
Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. ~Cyril Connolly
It helped me realize that writing for some imaginary potential audience won’t work. This blog is a place for me to share my experiences with food, recipes I enjoy, and the occasional anecdote about my day. It’s an escape from the day to day more than anything else (sometimes I even write my posts while at work when I need to clear my head; sshh, don’t tell anyone!)
I’ve been fortunate enough to get a few subscribers and regular readers. I want to thank all of you for reading my ramblings and sharing your thoughts with me. Your comments are always very much appreciated!
My original plan was to remake the Amaretto Cheese Tart I wrote about in my first post. An unexpected condo visit on Sunday changed my plans. Instead I’m sharing these Banana Nutella Muffins with you. They seem fitting since muffins are probably the baked good I make the most.
I was hoping for more of a Nutella swirl look to them, but I over-mixed the batter and lost the swirl. It’s ok, they still taste great, and the Nutella drizzle on top completely makes up for the lack of swirl inside.
Don’t worry, I’ll make the tart soon!
Banana Nutella Muffins
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
- 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt (anything but fat free)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup Nutella, plus more for drizzling
- 1 ripe but firm banana for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375. Line a 12 cup muffin tin.
- In a large bowl, mix the flours, baking powder and salt together.
- In a separate bowl, mix the mashed banana, butter and egg together. Stir in the yogurt and vanilla.
- Mix the wet into the dry until just combined. Stir in the Nutella.
- Pour batter evenly into the prepared muffin tin. Top each muffin with thin slices of banana.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Once done, cool on a wire rack. Drizzle with Nutella.
I figured I would give you a break from all the pear recipes (don’t worry, I’ve got a couple more coming) and share muffin recipe with you. I’ve mentioned my like of obsession with Starbucks muffins before, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried to actually duplicate them before.
My favourite kind is blueberry cranberry bran. I know, bran sounds like healthy grown up food. The first time I bought one I thought it was chocolate (I believe the good people at Starbucks are putting molasses in their muffins to give them a deceptively dark colour. Sneaky, very sneaky). With my first bite I experienced disappointment that there was no chocolate in the muffin. With my second bite I realized that bran is delicious. It has a flavour that I want to call nutty, but I’m not quite sure that’s the right word. Whatever the flavour is, I’m hooked.
I decided to make my own bran muffins, based on a recipe from The Joy of Baking (love that site, by the way). The recipe calls for molasses which I didn’t have on hand. After a quick check with Janice, I decided to replace it with wildflower honey. I also used a combination of coconut sugar and brown sugar. The muffins were moist and flavourful, with just the right amount of sweet to balance the tart of the cranberries.
Blueberry Cranberry Bran Muffins
Adapted from The Joy of Baking
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (50 grams) whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup (40 grams) wheat bran
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tbsps coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp wildflower honey
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries and cranberries (if using frozen berries, do not thaw)
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix together egg, honey, vanilla, butter, and buttermilk.
- Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in. Stir until there is no visible flour. Try not to overmix.
- Stir in blueberries and cranberries.
- Divide batter into a lined muffin tin (makes 12 regular or 6 large muffins)
- Bake for 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool before serving.
The Muffin Man? Who lives on Dury Lane?
I love that scene from Shrek.
I finally got my hands on some coconut sugar (thanks Frank & Bi!). The sugar is pretty sweet, with an interesting flavour, almost maple like. Because it’s not as sweet as regular sugar, I decided the first time I use it would be in something that doesn’t need to be too sweet. You got it; muffins! Specifically banana muffins.
I have had incidents where I forgot to add sugar to banana muffins. The texture was way too chewy and the tops were kind of soft, but since the banana’s are very sweet the taste was still good. So when it came to my coconut sugar muffins, I figured 1/4 a cup of sugar would be plenty. The muffins came out perfect. They were just sweet enough, they had a lovely fluffy texture inside, and a nice crispy top. Just how I like them!
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1/4 cup oatmeal
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 ripe bananas
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbsp melted butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine bananas, eggs, butter and vanilla.
- Make a hole in the dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients in.
- Fold together. The batter will be a little clumpy looking. Do not beat, or you’ll end up with tough muffins.
- Pour into greased muffin tin and bake at 400 for 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.