Sunday 20 November 2011

Apple and Cheddar Muffins

I’ll be the first to admit that we’re a little spoiled here in Vancouver Island.  We have mild temperatures pretty much year ‘round and, although some parts of the island see significant amounts of rain, here in the Cowichan Valley we are blessed with more sunshine than most folks on BC’s west coast. 

I woke this morning to blue skies and wispy white clouds, and to a heavy frost.  The frost was quite beautiful; dressing the leaves and branches and rooftops with a scrim of icy crystals that glittered in the sunlight.  Still, I had no desire to go for an early walk, choosing instead to don an extra pair of socks and curl up under a blanket on the couch with my coffee and a book. 

Although I enjoyed my little reading break, I was just deferring my chores and—no matter how much I tried to put it from my mind—my awareness that the bread box was empty wouldn’t leave me alone.  It was time to bake.

Because we turn the heat down low every night, my morning kitchen was not warm enough for bread to rise in.  In order to heat it up some I first made some apple and cheddar muffins.  They're leavened without yeast and so are not nearly so dependent upon a warm kitchen for rising.  They furnished both a hot breakfast for the two of us and, by the time they were done, enough heat from the oven that I could start my bread.   

Apple and cheddar muffins are simple to make, slightly sweet but hearty from the cheese, and perfect for breakfast on a chilly morning. 

 If you'd like to try them, you'll need:

  • 4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1-1/2 cups of grated cheddar  (I like a lot of cheese in my muffins so I pack the cheese firmly into the measuring cup.)
  • 1 cup of canola oil (You can replace up to half of this with applesauce.)
  • 1-1/3 cups of sugar
  • 2 eggs (The farm eggs I get are not always consistently sized.  As you can see, I ended up with one very large, double-yoked egg, so I balanced the measurement by pairing it with the smallest egg in the carton.)
  • 2 cups of grated apple
When prepping my ingredients, I grate both the cheese and the apple on a box grater.  You could do it in the food processor but the discs on mine are either too coarse or too fine.  The box grater yields me the best texture.  I grate the cheese first and then the apple.  I learned the hard way that it doesn’t matter if a little cheese gets in with the wet ingredients but if apple juices get mixed in with the cheese you end up with a soggy mess.

The juice from the grated apples is one of the main sources of moisture in these muffins.  The dough is quite stiff and, if your apples are not juicy, it can end up too dry and crumbly.  You may want to have a little extra liquid (apple juice, or applesauce, or milk) on hand in case the batter needs thinning.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl until they are well combined.  Add the grated cheese, using your fingers to break the shreds apart and distribute them through the flour mixture.

In a separate bowl, stir the sugar into the grated apple.  Let it sit for a few minutes.  The sugar will draw some of the juices from the apple shreds. 

Beat the eggs and then add them to the apple mixture along with the oil.  Stir the wet ingredients until they're well combined.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture all at once and stir just until all the flour is moistened.  You’ll have a stiff dough; far firmer than a usual muffin dough.

Spoon the dough into prepared muffin pans.  I fill the muffin cups right full, so this recipe yields me 18 muffins.  If you fill the cups 2/3 full, you should get about 24 muffins.

Bake the muffins at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes, until they’re lightly browned and spring back when lightly touched.  Allow them to cool in the pans for about 5 minutes before turning them out.

I prefer to serve them straight from the oven, but these muffins are lovely either hot or at room temperature, served simply with butter or dressed up with marmalade, cranberry claret jelly, or pepper jam.

This recipe is linked to the Hearth and Soul blog hop hosted by Premeditated Leftovers, The 21st Century Housewife, Penniless Parenting, and Zesty South Indian Kitchen.

Hearth & Soul Hop


mjskit said...

What a fabulous muffin with which to start a chilly day! I'm sure it not only heated up the kitchen but the heart and soul as well. Thanks for sharing this great recipe!

Aunt B said...

Thanks for stopping by. :)

Alea Milham said...

What a delicious combination of flavors! Your muffins are a great way to start the day and also would go great with a bowl of soup or chili for dinner.