Friday, September 25, 2009

Harvest Muffins

Hey everybody, we have another guest post! This one is from my sister Theresa up in the foothills. Hope you enjoy her ode to fall and tasty sounding recipe!

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. In fact, when FOX was a fledgling network they had a short lived science fiction show whose name escapes me, but on one episode one of the characters (a female Space Marine) was waxing eloquent about why she missed autumn on Earth….she said, “There is something so desperate and sexy about autumn….” I have always found that to be a perfectly fitting description. Desperate because it’s the last push to get the harvest in and the household/farmstead/den battened down and sexy because it’s when the vast majority of animals mate in order to ensure a spring birth….lots of action, activity and pheromones in the air! I myself have very fond memories of helping my father’s family with the fall harvest on their farm in Iowa . As a small child I couldn’t help much, but help I did and it was the one time of year that whole side of the family came together to work as a clan. Crisp mornings, sweatshirts, my dad’s big coyote-fur lined winter jacket that I would get to wear once he worked up a sweat, leather work gloves, the crunch and smell of dried corn, the pulsing sound of the combine, the ubiquitous snarl of a chainsaw that we and others were constantly running to try to beat the snow with firewood preparations, and the occasional crack of a hunter’s rifle echoing off the land are all indelibly burned into my brain….desperate and sexy indeed.

As such I am a sucker for anything “harvest” whether a theme (how about a harvest wedding…sans chainsaws, of course!), decoration, movie or recipe. I received a recipe recently called “Harvest Muffins” from one of my Yahoo user groups. The ingredients sounded like a slam dunk, but the first batch left a lot to be desired….they made the house smell wonderful, however the spices called for were just enough for aromatics and not taste. In addition, the cook temps and times called for resulted in a very dry muffin that resulted in the last two remaining being thrown out. Plus the quantity of raisins called for completely overwhelmed the recipe.

I did a second batch and the only thing that resembles the original is the ingredients list. All spices and the raisins have been significantly adjusted and the baking temperature reduced while the time was increased. This resulted in a muffin that not only smells GREAT while baking, but tastes wonderful and remains very moist inside. Bear in mind that even once the toothpick comes out clean these muffins retain a lot of moisture around the apple shreds and may appear underdone if you eat one right after baking. Give them some time to sit and the moisture disperses evenly through the whole muffin. I store them in a plastic tub with a light dishtowel draped on top to keep them moist but prevent molding. Also keep in mind that these are more like a zucchini or banana bread than a true muffin and as such don’t rise terribly high.

I hope you relish them as much as I do—they are utterly perfect for a desperate, sexy fall morning (or even a mundane, frumpy one!). Serve with hot coffee or plain black tea and enjoy!!

2 c all purpose flour
1/3 c sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground nutmeg

1 c apple juice/cider
1/3 c vegetable oil
¼ real maple syrup
1 large egg beaten
2 tsp vanilla

1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and shredded
3 oz chopped walnuts (1/2 of a big package)
½ c golden raisins

Blend dry ingredients in one bowl. Blend wet ingredients in another bowl. Combine the two until just mixed and fold in the last three ingredients.
Divide batter into muffin pan (the cups will be pretty full)

Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. The apple should still be really moist inside.


Kay said...

Hey, my other kid shows up. Now it's a real family affair. With just one to cook for, I probably won't get around to making a whole batch of muffins but first chance I get to be the "treat" bringer, this is on my list..sounds delicious.

Robin said...

Does that mean we need to have a get together so you have an excuse to bake? Once the weather breaks of course!