Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Apple Walnut Muffins

As I bake these Apple Walnut Muffins, the apple trees in my backyard are in full bloom, perfuming the air with the promise of the fruit they'll bear several months from now. Of course, the fact that the apple blossoms are yet decorating the tree branches in my yard suggests that the apples currently nestled in the cinnamon-scented batter gently rising in my oven have traveled long and far to get there. And yes, that would be true. The apples I purchased for these muffins came all the way from Chile. But I have to confess, for these muffins, I'll purchase apples out of season.

Now, it's true that I didn't have to make apple muffins -- not when there are plenty of other muffin recipes out there to choose from. But this is Teacher Appreciation Week at our school, and everyone knows that apples are the time-honored expression of teacher appreciation, so apples it had to be.

Be advised that this batter is odd; it doesn't really come together like typical muffin batter does. It is relatively dry and crumbly, and very stiff. Just heap it into the prepared muffin cups -- it will coalesce while baking.

The interior of these unique muffins is sweet and dense; the crumb is chewy and studded with tender apple chunks and walnuts. The exterior of this muffin forms a nicely crisp crust over the crown and a firm, substantial base. The combination of textures is what makes this particular muffin so unique and, in my opinion, so delicious.

Muffins are one of my favorite things to bake, and if I had to narrow down my muffin repertoire to only one recipe, this would probably be it. (Yes, they really are that good!) Give them a try, and if you have kids in school, be sure to send some in for their teachers.

Apple Walnut Muffins

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour


  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder


  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 2 cups granulated sugar


  • 1/2 cup oil


  • 2 eggs


  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • 2 large baking apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (I like Cortland, Empire, and Golden Delicious for these)


  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.


In a medium mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients except for sugar (flour through salt) and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, stir together oil and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, chopped apples, and walnuts; stir by hand until combined.


Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter will be dry and crumbly but no flour should still be visible.


Spoon heaps of batter into prepared muffin cups, filling two-thirds full. (These muffins do not rise much.)


Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean and muffins are golden brown and look dry.


Let sit in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Store leftover muffins in the refrigerator, or wrap in waxed paper and plastic or foil and freeze.


Makes 12 jumbo muffins or 24 regular muffins


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