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~ It's an Apple, Raisin & Pecan-Streusel Muffin Day ~

IMG_4983I have a love-hate relationship with muffins.  I love them for for breakfast, especially the muffins that I bake, and, I even love muffins that a few of my friends make, but, I hate most store-bought or bakery-made muffins. Why?  I find that most commercially-made muffins contain too few goodies (fresh or dried fruit, chopped nuts, a grain, or, a fragrant spice) and way too much sugar. Their cloying sweetness gives me a headache -- a real head-banger of a headache.  

IMG_4993Similar to the low-key and friendly "welcome guests to your kitchen" ambiance of a coffeecake, to me, muffins are my own, personal, morning-comfort-food.  I want to open one up, use my fingers to pull it apart, eat it slowly, one lip-licking bite at a time, and, feel good about having eaten this small, indulgence for the entire day -- not hate myself for the rest of my life.

IMG_2679The recipe I'm sharing today has been a Preschutti family favorite for as long as I've been a Preschutti.  I remember clipping the recipe out of a magazine shortly after Joe and I got married (1980-ish), tweeking it to suit my taste, then, writing in down, in my own hand, on a 3" x 5" recipe card.  These apple muffins are a perfect accompaniment to coffee or tea at breakfast or brunch. The streusel topping, similar to that found on many a coffeecake, is a crunchy complement to the moist, fruity center.  Be prepared to graciously accept all compliments, but remember, it is not always necessary to reveal how simple and quick a recipe actually is to prepare.

6a0120a8551282970b017c3733bfd9970bA bit about muffins:  American-style muffins fall into the category of a type of slightly-sweet or savory quick bread that is made with all-purpose or cake flour, and, are leavened with baking powder and/or baking soda.  They're baked in multiple-cupped muffin pans, to produce individual-sized portions. Sometimes, for ease of serving, paper liners are placed in the cups and that option is yours, except:

Paper liners prevent muffins from browning on the outside.  Tip from Mel:  Use the liners for coarser bread-textured, corn and/or cheese muffins.  When making moister quick-muffins, do not use the liners! 

IMG_2627Fruit, dried fruit, fruit juice, fruit puree, nuts, seeds and grains (usually bran or oats) are common additions.  In the recent history of muffins, chocolate, cinnamon, peanut butter, and/or toffee bits have become popular additions too. The latter list of sweets, while not my favorite, are not going to prompt me to call the food police.  You see, even I like a chocolate chip thrown into the mix occasionally.

Muffins are typically topped with a sprinkling of sugar or a crumbly mixture prior to baking.   That said, muffins should never be glazed or frosted after-the fact (like cinnamon rolls or cupcakes), although there's always a bakery happy to do it and sell it. While muffins are mostly considered breakfast or brunch fare with coffee or tea, savory muffins, like corn or cheese muffins, are a great accompaniment to chili or a stew for lunch, or, a juicy steak or a rack of ribs for dinner.

IMG_2575Make my day! Make your day! Make someone elses day!

IMG_5043Make my apple muffins!

IMG_2586For the streusel topping:

1  cup finely-chopped pecans

1/2  cup unbleached all-purpose flour

6  tablespoons sugar

1/4  teaspoon allspice

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

4  tablespoons salted butter, cut into thin slices, kept cold

For the wet ingredients:

4  ounces salted butter, melted (1 stick)

4  jumbo eggs, at room temperature

16  ounces sour cream

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract, not imitation

2  cups unpeeled and diced Granny Smith apple

1  cup golden raisins

1  cup coarsely-chopped pecans

For the dry ingredients:

3  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1  cup sugar

1/2  teaspoon ground allspice

2  teaspoons ground cinnamon

4  teaspoons baking powder

1  teaspoon baking soda

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing pans.

IMG_2603~ Step 1.  To prepare the streusel topping, in a medium mixing bowl, place the pecans, flour, sugar, allspice and cinnamon.  Add the cold butter pieces.  

IMG_2609Using a pastry blender and/or a paring knife, "cut"/blend the mixture, until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside.

IMG_2613~ Step 2.  To prepare the wet ingredients, in a second medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla.  Set aside.  In the microwave or on the stovetop (your choice), melt the butter over low heat.  Set aside.  

Prep, measure and set aside the apples, raisins and pecans.  

IMG_2629 IMG_2619In a thin stream, whisk the butter into the egg mixture.

IMG_2634Using a large rubber spatula  fold in the apples, raisins and pecans.  Set the mixture aside.

IMG_2644 IMG_2596~ Step 3.  To prepare the dry ingredients, in a large bowl, stir the flour, sugar, allspice, cinnamon, baking soda & salt.

                                 ~ Step 4.  To prepare the batter, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Using a large rubber spatula, fold the two mixtures together, just until moistened.

Note:   The operative phrase here is "just until moistened".  The moment the ingredients come together, stop mixing.  Do not overmix


~ Step 5.  To prepare and fill the pans, spray the muffin pans with cooking spray.  Working as quickly as you can without getting messy, while at the same time doing as little as possible to the mixture (meaning: don't stir it as your work), use a 2 1/2" ice-cream scoop to measure/place batter into pans. Sprinkle tops of the unbaked muffins with about 1 tablespoon of streusel topping, allowing it to get all over the top of the pans.

IMG_2670~ Step 6.  To bake muffins, place filled pans, all at once, on center rack of preheated 375 degree oven, about 18 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Muffins will have the signature domed muffin tops.  Remove from oven.  Cool in pans 2-3 minutes.  Using a thin spatula, transfer muffins to cooling rack to cool until slightly warm or cooled completely.

Cool in pans 2-3 minutes prior to gently transferring to a cooling rack:


Live it up!  Everything at breakfast tastes better with butter!

IMG_5009It's an Apple, Raisin & Pecan Streusel Muffin Day:  Recipe yields 2 dozen standard-size muffins.

Special Equipment List: 2-4 standard-size muffin pans, enough for 24 muffins; pastry blender; paring knife; cutting board; chef's knife; whisk; large rubber spatula; 2 1/2" ice-cream scoop; cake tester or toothpick; thin spatula; cooling rack(s)

6a0120a8551282970b017ee8de3819970dCook's Note:  In the event it is an entire apple cake you're looking for, ~ My NY Deli-Style Jewish Apple 'n Almond Cake ~ recipe can be found in Categories 6, or 9.  It's the real-deal and has been on our family's dessert table for at least three generations.  Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, breakfast, lunch or dinner, ending a meal with an apple dessert quintessential comfort treat!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015) 


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