Sunday, April 3, 2011

Apple Raisin Muffins

Anyone familiar with Paula Deen of the Food Network knows that she loves butter, butter, and more butter.  Anyone familiar with me knows that I like butter...but only in moderation (usually).  So where do Paula and I find common ground?  In these apple raisin muffins.  How?  Because Paula is so generous with her butter, I can replace half of it with apple sauce and still produce some darn good muffins.  To further de-Paula this recipe, I often replace 1 ½ cups of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, and toss in about 2 tablespoons of nutty wheat germ to up the fiber and vitamin content of these flavorful treats.

Just as banana bread is the perfect vehicle for overripe bananas, these muffins are a perfect use for apples that are slightly past their prime.  Sweet, spicy, moist, they are perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack.  Re-warm in the microwave or toaster oven for optimal tastiness.  This is a big recipe, but it halves easily if needed.  Muffins will keep for three or four days in a sealed bag or container. 

Miniature Apple Raisin Muffins  (Adapted from Paula Deen,
Makes about 5 dozen mini muffins or 2 dozen regular muffins

Note: Although the active time for this recipe is actually quite short, the apple mixture does take several hours to cool, so plan accordingly.

* 1 cup of water
* 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
* 2 cups grated apples, any variety will do (2 large or 3 medium apples)
* 2 cups of raisins
* 1 stick (8 tablespoon/4 ounces) unsalted butter
* 1 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
* 1 teaspoon ground ginger
* ½ teaspoon ground cloves
* ½ teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 3 ½ (420 grams) cups all-purpose flour, OR a mix of all purpose and whole wheat flour and wheat germ, equaling 3 ½ cups (I use about 240 grams all-purpose flour, 160 grams whole wheat flour, and 2 tablespoons of wheat germ.  If you don't have any wheat germ, use 180 grams whole wheat flour)
* Butter or oil spray (such as PAM)

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, apples, raisins, butter, apple sauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature.  (While I've never timed it, my recollection is this takes 2 to 3 hours, even in the fridge.  Stir the mixture occasionally to help the process along.)

2. When your mixture has cooled, crank up your oven to 350˚F.  Grease your muffin tins with butter or oil spray (such as PAM).

3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and nuts, if using.  Glob the cooled apple mixture onto the dry ingredients, and stir gently, just until combined.  The mixture will be thicker and chunkier than a traditional batter.  However, if you feel like it's so dry that the flour won't fully incorporate, add a ¼ cup of water to loosen things up.

4. Fill greased muffin tins almont to the top, and bake for 15 minutes for minis, about 22 minutes for regular muffins, or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the muffins comes out clean.  Cool the muffins in the tins until they can be removed without burning your fingers, then cool completely on wire racks.  If you need to reuse the muffin tins for additional batches, pop them in the fridge for a few minutes until they're cool to the touch, then re-grease and repeat until all the batter is used.


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