Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Spiced Brown Butter & Apple Muffins

Are you enjoying autumn as much as I am? We seem to be having a lot more gorgeous days than cold and rainy ones and the leaves on the ground are beautiful. Plus, the tomatoes that I planted way too late (i.e. when I got back from Florida in May) seem to be turning into mini-tomato-factories so I feel like it's still summer. That and the fact that I get to see some amazing friends in three weeks (DC and Williamsburg, VA, here I come!) and that I am finally making some progress with the whole blog-redesign mean I'm loving the world these days.
But let's talk muffins - I made these for science-lunch at work the other week and after a bit of a disaster involving sticky apple-cinnamon rolls where everything that could have gone wrong pretty much going wrong (how come the one time I actually follow a recipe it turns out to be a really horrible one?!?), I decided to not listen to recipes anymore and just do my own thing. I got the inspiration for these from the introduction to the brown butter scones in Amy Scattergood's Good to the Grain but I wanted muffins not scones and I had some apples that needed using up....you know how that story tends to end. I like the crumb these muffins have because it is soft and springs back and there is a certain amount of lightness to it without being super fluffy like some shop-bought muffins can be.
Perhaps you should just try them yourself :)

Spiced Brown Butter & Apple Muffins
150g Apples, peeled and cut into 1cm pieces
300g Flour
100g Raw Cane Sugar
1tsp Salt
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
1/4 tsp Cardamom
125 ml Single Cream
250 ml Milk
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (optional)
100g Butter + more for greasing
2 tbsp Almond Flour

Preheat your oven to 200˚C and butter 15 muffin cups out of 24 (I have two 12-cup tins) - space them out evenly (i.e. don't just use all cups in the first tin and only 3 in the second).
Sprinkle the bottom of each muffin cup with some almond flour. I had originally hoped that the almond mixture would form a somewhat separate layer from the batter and would form a nice contrast. That didn't really work but the almond flavour forms a really nice backdrop to the muffins so the almonds get to stay.
Heat the butter in a saucepan and allow it to brown. Wait until you have brown spots forming at the bottom of the pan and your kitchen smells like brown butter heaven. Take the butter of the heat and allow it to cool down slightly.
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. I really like how the spices pack quite a punch but it does have quite a Christmassy feel to it so if you want a toned-down version, I would use half the amounts of cloves, allspice and cardamom.
Whisk together milk, cream and eggs and once you have a smooth mixture, add the butter and the vanilla extract if you are using it. Combine the wet and the dry ingredients. Don't worry if you don't have a completely smooth batter - if you overwork the batter the muffins will become dense and chewy and simply not as nice as they turn out if you stop while there are still some small pockets of flour left in there.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a cake tester (or a dry piece of spaghetti) comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool down for 5 minutes or so before you turn them out on a wire rack to cool completely.
If you were to ask me I would recommend some coffee with these but I'm sure other stuff tastes really nice with them as well (it just won't keep you awake as well :) )

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