Cider Duffins

Cinnamon-sugar donut muffins with a touch of cider syrup.

I don’t know about where you live, but here in Vermont come fall, cider donuts reign supreme, calling to tourists and locals alike from mom-and-pop bake shops, roadside stands, apple orchards, even gas stations. Sweet and fattening, these golden-brown chubbers are often sold in brown paper bags slightly stained with oil. More often than not, they’re still warm from the fryer. Praise be.
Thankfully, luckily, perhaps dangerously, cider donuts are easy to replicate at home in the form of Cider Duffins (you guessed it, a cross between a donut and a muffin). The batter is simple, and there’s no need for deep-frying. A swim in a butter bath before a tumble in cinnamon-sugar achieves borderline perfection in the donut mouthfeel department. If there is such a department. 
Cider Duffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 tablespoon Cinnamon Cider Syrup*
1/2 cup milk
Topping:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan.
Whisk together flour, nutmeg, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In large bowl, mix brown sugar, melted butter, egg, Cinnamon Cider Syrup and milk. 
Stir in flour mixture until combined.
Spoon batter into mini-muffin tin. (I used a 1-inch scoop and was not able to fill the entire tin — made about 18 as I recall.)
Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 15-17 minutes. (While duffins bake, mix cinnamon and granulated sugar in small bowl.)

While still hot from the oven, dip each duffin in melted butter, then roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Set on wire rack to cool (or don’t bother and just eat straight away, as we did this morning).

* I buy my Cinnamon Cider Syrup, a tasty coupling of maple syrup and boiled cider, from Wood’s Cider Mill just up the road in Weathersfield, Vermont. Look here for more info.

Chili's BFF: Fresh, Warm Corn Muffins

Lightly sweetened with brown sugar …

Small-Batch Corn Muffins
(To sop up your chili, as promised.)
As much as I love corn muffins, I don’t want to be overrun by them. They have their place among the bagels, wheat bread, cardamom breadbanana pecan muffins, cakes, pies and cookies competing for my affections. That’s why this recipe is perfect for our household of two; it makes about six (6) standard-size muffins.

The wet:
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
The dry:
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
Line or grease a 6-cup standard-size muffin tin; if you’re using a bigger tin, fill the remaining cups with water about half-way.
Whisk dry ingredients together in large bowl.
Gently fold wet ingredients into dry, using as few strokes as possible, to combine.
Bake in preheated oven for 13-15 minutes. Serve warm with or without butter, honey, chili …

Residing at the Apex of the Muffin World

Bodacious beauties.

I need to stop making promises I can’t keep (or, at least, keep in a timely manner). The Little House project has to wait a few days, sadly, as I don’t have some key ingredients in my pantry. Namely lard, but give me a week or so.
What I did bake yesterday was my cardamom bread and today … Banana Pecan Muffins (adapted from a recipe by Beth Hensperger in “The Bread Bible”). I ate one muffin pre-shoveling duties, another one post-shoveling duties. Then I started to worry about further adding to the jelly belly. Anyway, I can’t get enough of these muffins with their crumbly tops. I had to freeze some just so I’d stop eating them, at least for the moment.

Banana Pecan Muffins

Crumble topping
1/2 cup sugar (I used granulated but brown would be lovely, too)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (salted would be fine, really)

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs

3 super-ripe bananas
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup pecans, chopped finely (read, to within an inch of their lives — my cohorts and I don’t like chunky nuts in our muffins; I pretty much ground mine in the food processor; do what you will)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease, or line with papers, 12-cup standard muffin tin (I used paper liners as my pre-World War II muffin tin does not behave when it comes to releasing baked goods).

Mash your bananas, then mash them some more. Don’t worry about chunks, though; you want it chunky. Set bananas aside.

Prepare streusel topping: use a pastry blender, a fork or two knives to cut the cold butter into flour/sugar combo until you have a pebbly mixture. Set streusel topping aside.

Whisk sugar with oil until frothy. Add eggs; whisk till well combined. Set aside.

Whisk together dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon). GENTLY FOLD (yes, all caps is obnoxious and I don’t mean to yell, but it’s important to go easy; you don’t want to overwork your batter) your wet mixture, mashed bananas and ground pecans into your dry ingredients. Use as few strokes as possible to combine everything. It will be lumpy. This is good. Lumps are lovely.

Scoop batter into muffin tray, filling each cup to just about its top.

Place 1 tablespoon-ish of streusel topping on top of each.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. They are done when your cake tester / toothpick comes out clean when delicately plunged into center of one of the muffins.

Leave in pan to cool for five minutes before releasing muffins onto wire rack to cool some more. Eat as soon as your hands can handle the heat. So good. As much as I love a slathering of butter, these really don’t need it, but, again, do what you will.