19 May 2012

She'll be apples (and raspberry muffins)

My dad has many apple trees, of different varieties, which means (thankfully) I do not have to rely on my single apple tree for a supply (because the birds get to the un-netted fruit before I do).

But it also means I am (currently) faced with this prospect every time I walk into my kitchen:

 Unless you grow you own apples, you don't often see such gnarly specimens as this: small. Tough-skinned, some of them; others, waxy and thin. Some are lumpy and calloused from rubbing against their tree's branches; mis-shapen and un-perfect and how real apples are.

There is more here than I can munch through, and truth is I much prefer cooking with them. I plan on stewing some up with a little mixed spice, to have on my breakfast oats, and I shall be consulting my collection of apple recipes for cakes. I love apple cakes - they are one of my favourite kinds to bake because they are usually sweet, moist, a bit old-fashioned, which is my style of baking.

Apple cakes can be 'just apples', but usually the fruit is paired to perfection with a spice (cinnamon or mixed spice). I love apples with other fruit, too: think a classic apple pie studded with sultanas, or a crumble of mixed apple and rhubarb (and plenty of cream, of course).

This week I made apple and raspberrry muffins, based very loosely on a recipe found in a recent Good Food magazine that someone had put in the tearoom at work (thank you whoever you are; please bring in more!). They look ugly, but trust me: they're lovely!

 Actually, mum and I made them together last weekend and we decided the recipe needed some tweaking, so I've made them twice again since and have tweaked each time. The quantity of fruit has been doubled, I've played with cooking times, and omitted the rather dry crumb topping.

These are not obviously apple muffins; the fruit is part of a well-balanced ensemble cast that includes oats, and raspberries (I'm lucky to have a stash in the freezer of dad's berries I can pull out thru out the year). There's just enough cinnamon to round out the flavours, rather than dominate and be blatantly 'spicy'. These also include natural yoghurt, which I haven't used in baking for a while (my go-to dairy is sour cream, regardless of what the recipe specifies). The yoghurt added a lovely lightness and freshness to the finished cakes.

These little cakes are also very quick and simple to make - grating the apple was the fiddliest bit, and really, that's not hard, is it?

Apple and raspberry muffins
Adapted from Good Food magazine
  • So, preheat your oven to 180 and prepare a muffin tray (butter, or use paper cups). In a large bowl combine 1 1/2 cups SR flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1 tspn ground cinnamon. Grate two apples into this, skin and all. Watch your fingers, says the voice of experience.
  • In another bowl, combine two eggs, 1/2 cup of light olive oil, and 3/4 cup natural yoghurt. This will look like a curdled mess, but don't worry. Mix this into the dry ingredients, and when combined add 1 cup of frozen raspberries and stir til just mixed through.
  • Pop into your prepared muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and the  kitchen smells really warm and wonderful. And enjoy!

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