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At the Bee & Thistle Guest House in Vancouver we love to surprise our guests with a different freshly baked pastry every morning, even when they stay with us for two or three weeks at a time. This means we need a pretty big repertoire of muffin & scone recipes, and we are always looking for wonderful new flavors and ideas. But we do find that we fall back on our favorites whenever possible, and this Apple Walnut Crunch Muffin recipe is definitely one of the best – moist and dense, with a satisfying hint of spice and a crunchy topping. Great for winter, too, when berries & other typical muffin additions are not at their prime. This muffin recipe does take a bit more time than some, due to the apple preparation time and the crunchy topping, but they are not at all difficult and use very common ingredients that one would find in most kitchens. We do always recommend good quality, wholesome ingredients, of course, such as organic unbleached white or whole wheat flour and free range organic eggs (we get ours from our daughter’s Bowen Island hobby farm whenever possible, although these particular chickens, unfortunately, are currently on strike and seem to be holding out for Spring!). If you want to whip these up very quickly in the morning, it’s quite okay to mix the wet ingredients in one bowl, the dry ingredients in another, pop the thinly sliced apples & the topping in separate baggies, all the evening before, refrigerate the whole lot, then toss them together in the morning. We like those big, tantalizing muffins that one would find in a high quality coffee shop, so we use a commercial pan with tiered sides to produce wonderful gigantic muffins with crunchy toppings. However this means that we only get 6 – 8 muffins from this recipe (double the recipe if you have more guests or use a pan with smaller muffin cups in order to stretch the recipe to 10 or 12 smaller muffins). Note: don’t panic when you stir in the apples and discover that the batter looks like it has way-y-y-y too many apples – they truly do melt into the other ingredients and produce a very moist but light muffin.
Bee & Thistle Apple Walnut Crunch Muffins
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 3/4 cup unbleached white flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 2 cups apples, peeled, cored and very thinly sliced (we use a mandolin on the thinnest setting)
Cinnamon Crumble Topping:
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp. white flour, unbleached
- 2 tbsp. cold butter, cut in small pieces or pop in the freezer for a few minutes, then grate on a coarse grater
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Spray pans or grease with butter. Line with paper muffin cups to make them easy to remove.
- Prepare the apples by peeling & coring them and slicing as thin as possible. 2 cups usually equals two apples. Set aside.
- Prepare topping: in small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon & 3 tbsp. flour. Rub the butter in with your hands until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
- In large bowl, cream the 1/2 cup butter, then beat in 1 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then milk (if you put it in the fridge at this stage, the butter does go a bit lumpy, but don’t worry – it melts into the batter just fine when baking).
- In another bowl, stir together the 1 3/4 cup of flour, baking powder, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and the walnuts. When ready to bake, stir the flour mixture into the liquid ingredients, just until almost blended. Toss in the sliced apples and stir again until the apples are well distributed but don’t over stir.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans. Top with the cinnamon crumble.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow to sit for 5 minutes before attempting to remove them from the pans. Cool on a wire rack.
- We serve these with butter cut into pretty shapes and home made Roasted Apple Butter.