As we are coming to the end days of summer, pre-fall baking is on my brain. I have an ongoing love affair with muffins — a sweet and savory mini cake. These cuties don’t need frosting. Homemade muffins taste so much better than pre-packaged, store-bought types and are less pricey than the monster-size ones at Starbucks. The best part is, you can control the ingredients — including seasonal fruits and nuts, like our squirrels are storing for wintertime.
These muffins take me back to my living on a shoestring days in San Jose as an undergrad student. One Sunday, my guy pal brought home apples he picked from an unknown neighbor’s yard. I had lots of walnuts his mom gave me in a care package. So, I baked a batch of apple nut muffins. In the morning, it was the usual trek to school to get West Valley College for a grueling day of back-to-back classes. That special day in my favorite creative writing class, I asked my professor the all too common question, “Do I have any talent? I want to be a writer.” She looked at me. She smiled. I waited eagerly for her response as if she was a psychic. She answered, “You should move on to SFSU. That is where you need to be.” I gave her an apple nut muffin and she gave me the incentive to move forward and get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Here I sit in my cabin and I am writing health cookbooks and articles. So, I have a soft spot for apple nut muffins from yesteryear and I’ve come full circle. This is a new, improved recipe for my muffins — a gift from me to you.
APPLE NUT MUFFINS
1/2 cup, packed, light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (optional)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 brown egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup European style butter, melted
1/2 cup sour cream
2 capfuls of pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup orange juice, not concentrated, with pulp
1 1/2 cups apples, peeled and cored and chopped (into small cubes)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners. In a bowl, combine sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add flour. In another bowl combine egg, melted butter sour cream, and orange juice. Mix all ingredients. Fold in apples and nuts. Spoon batter with an ice cream scoop into muffin tins. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture and bake for 18-20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.
On hump day, in the late afternoon, I hit the kitchen and made a batch of these muffins. Once in the oven I felt these cakes would turn out nicely. After about 10 minutes I peeked. They looked like wholesome muffins. Once baked, I savored a warm apple nut muffin spread with a bit of whipped cream cheese. (I was going to add cream cheese icing but decided to ditch the extra sugar.) These fruit muffins make the grade as is. Enjoy.
Motto: Hard work and drive can pay off whether it’s following your dream or making muffins.
— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. (The Healing Powers of Honey is currently offered by the Good Cook Book Club.) The Healing Powers of Coffee, Vinegar, Olive Oil, and Honey are sold at Walmart stores nationwide. Her website is www.calorey.com.