Fall Muffins – Apple, Pumpkin and Cranberry

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Mixed BasketWhile muffins are good all year long, I think of them particularly in the fall.  Temperatures start dropping, sweaters and jackets come out, massive amounts of colored leaves drift down in a lazy dance and it’s a good time to turn the oven on and bake a batch of muffins.  These easiest of baked goods are so simple to put together there is a term in baking called the muffin method.  Essentially all the dry and wet ingredients are mixed together separately.  They are then combined and that’s it.  Drop them into the cups, bake and enjoy.

What flavors are more indicative of fall than apples, pumpkin and cranberries?

As an added bonus, all these freeze well – if they stick around long enough.  They also have a good shelf life as they can be held at room temperature for a couple of days.  The size of the muffins can be increased if you want the large “Texas muffins”. Just fill the cups to the same height and bake a bit longer.  A tester should come out clean when inserted in the middle of a couple of muffins.  Be sure to test the ones on the inside of the muffin pan as they will be the slowest to finish.  As a generality, you will get about 1/3 less muffins.

So turn that oven on, get a couple of bowls and start mixing.  Bake one or bake them all.  Bake them large or bake them small.   A small investment in time will yield a big reward in enjoyment.

Streusel Topped Pumpkin MuffinsPumpkin Muffins

These are so easy, you can whip them up in minutes for hot breakfast muffins.  Don’t let the pumpkin stop you from serving them all year.

Streusel Topping
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup pecans
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, cold

If making by hand, chop the pecans very finely.  Otherwise, just measure them. Combine the brown sugar, pecans, flour and cinnamon in a bowl.  Cut the butter in until the mixture is crumbly.  Alternatively, place all in the bowl of a processor and pulse until crumbly.

Pumpkin Muffins
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup pecan pieces, coarsely chopped
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees if using regular muffin pans or 350 degrees if using dark pans.  Line cupcake tins with papers and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and pecans in
a medium size bowl.  Set aside.

Whisk together the egg, milk, pumpkin and oil.  Whisk into the flour mixture just until combined.  Spoon into muffin cups 2/3 full.  Divide topping among the muffins.  Bake as directed below.

Regular size muffins – 15 to 17 minutes – makes about 15
Mini Muffins – 12 to 14 minutes – makes about 30

Apple MuffinsApple Muffins
These are the best apple muffins I have ever eaten.  They can be made with fresh or frozen apples.  If using fresh, the apples should be peeled and cut into about 1/4 inch dice.  If using frozen, put the frozen apples in the food processor  and pulse to chop.  Add them to the muffin mix while still frozen, drop into cups, top them and get them into the oven.  Do not let the apples thaw.  I’ve been making these for over 30 years and you don’t keep a recipe around that long if it doesn’t work or isn’t that good.  At least I don’t!

Sugar Topping
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Mix together until the butter moistens the sugar.  Set aside.  Line muffin cups with papers and preheat the oven to 350 degrees if using regular pans or 300 degrees if using dark pans.

Apple Muffins
1 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups diced apple

In the bowl of a mixer, add the brown sugar, oil and egg.  Beat until well combined.

Combine the buttermilk and vanilla; set aside.

Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  Add alternately with the buttermilk mixture starting and ending with the flour.  Add the apples.  Fill cups about 3/4 full and finish with the sugar topping.

Regular size muffins – bake about 17 to 20 minutes – makes about 18
Mini muffins – bake 14 to 17 minutes – makes about 50

Cranberry Vanilla MuffinsCranberry Vanilla Muffins
Even if you hate cranberries, I implore you to try these.  I once got people who swore they hated chicken livers to love them and I’ll bet you will love these.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees if using regular tins or 325 degrees is using dark tins.  Line muffin tins with papers and set aside.

Topping
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Stir together well in a small bowl and set aside.

Cranberry Vanilla Muffins
1 – 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk

Freeze the cranberries hard.

Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  Scrape down and add the eggs one at a time.  Beat until light and completely combined.

In the meantime, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix together.  Add the flour and milk alternately, starting and ending with the flour mixture.

Lastly, place the cranberries in a food processor and pulse to coarsely chop.  Add to the batter and mix in just until well combined.  Fill the cups 3/4 full.  Sprinkle the tops liberally with the sugar/nutmeg mix.

Regular size muffins – Bake  23 to 25 minutes – makes about 20 muffins
Mini size muffins – bake 15 to 18 minutes – makes about 40

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