Seeing as there are still ample amounts of apples dive-bombing from trees ( you can almost hear them calling "geronimo!" ) and a distinct shortage of muffins in these parts, the only logical step to take is towards apple muffins. The secret core (I'm aware it's a terrible pun thank you) of these muffins is an apple cider reduction cheerfully lifted from a recipe for cider cupcakes in one of my new favourite recipe books Cooking with Booze (discovered by Eoin). Despite being a pint-sized (I tried not to write that, I really did) 7 1/2 x 5 inches there are enough recipes, both sweet and savoury and all packed with booze, to appeal to you no matter what your poison.
I bought my bottle of cider, camouflaged in obligatory brown paper bag, and set it to boil on the hob until my kitchen began to smell something like The Liberty Pub in Cork, a barely even hole-in-the-wall of a pub which used to sell only flagons of cider and curiously no longer exists. I can offer no details as that would be mean asking a girl to dredge up memories of student days and that just won't do.
Boiling off the alcohol mellows the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the cider and instead of picking a fight with the rest of the ingredients it settles down cosily in front of the fire with a pint and a packet of crisps (Tayto's). A thick layer of crumble topping helps to keep everything snug. Tart eating apples work really well here and you can add as much or as little cinnamon as you like. I suppose you could use apple juice or even just milk in place of the cider, but you might lose some of the depth of appley flavour. Give it a try at least once otherwise I might have to get angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.
P.S. Thank you muchly to Sarah for a lovely evening of food and company last night. And Maz, Jen and Maeve too!
CIDER APPLE MUFFINS
- 300g plain flour
- 125g brown sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon, or to taste
- tiny pinch of ground cloves
- 500ml apple cider
- 140ml flavourless oil, rapeseed or sunflower
- 1 egg
- 1 medium apple
- 40g plain flour
- 50g brown sugar
- 25g flaked almonds
- 25g butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 200 C and line a 6 hole jumbo muffin tin (or 12 hole regular muffin tin) with paper cases or use squares of greaseproof paper, buttering the bases to keep the paper in place. Pour the cider into a saucepan and boil over a medium/high heat to reduce by a little over half and measure out 180ml of cider. Set aside to cool while you get the muffin batter ready. Combine the flour, sugar and nuts from the crumble ingredients in a small bowl and set aside also.
- Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and pinch of salt in a large bowl and stir with a whisk to combine ( I use a whisk to stir because I'm too lazy to sieve the flour). Peel, grate or finely dice the apple and put it in the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir in with a fork. Put the reduced cider in a large jug or medium mixing bowl, add the vegetable oil next to help cool the cider further before adding the egg (scrambled eggs are not good in this recipe!). Beat the wet ingredients together lightly, Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture using a fork to combine the batter. Mix only long enough to combine overmixing will make the muffins heavy instead of light and fluffy.
- Transfer the batter to the muffin cases using a tablespoon. Stir enough butter into the crumble ingredients to make a moist crumble and scatter generously over the top of the muffin batter. Bake in the oven until risen, golden and springy when pressed lightly in the centre. Large muffins will take 35-40 minutes and regular sized ones will take about 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little before diving in.
- The muffins are best eaten warm on the day you bake them, but you could store them overnight in an airtight tin and warm them in the microwave (or oven) the next day.
Makes 6 large or 12 regular muffins.