What's Baking: Apple Cinnamon-Sugar Crumble Muffins

When you pick 20 pounds of apples, that means you gotta eat 20 pounds of apples. We picked Liberty apples at Bayfield's Blue Vista Farm. Liberties are good apples for storing -- according to ye olde Internet, this variety is good to store for up to three months, and happily, the flavor gets better as time goes by. 

Thus far I've used the apples in salads, as a pizza topping (recipe to come), in a mini dessert (another recipe to come), and in these delicious apple cinnamon-sugar crumble muffins.

I made these muffins this past weekend to share at brunch with a friend and her two children. Long story short, these apple-filled muffins were a hit among both the over-30 and under-3 crowd. Though the ingredient list may be a bit long, don't be intimidated. These muffins come together rather quickly and bake up in a jiffy. And, they make a great breakfast (or second breakfast!) served warm alongside a large cup of coffee.

Apple Cinnamon-Sugar Crumble Muffins (printer-friendly version)
makes 12 muffins

For the muffins:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
dash of ground allspice
1 1/2 cups peeled, cored, and finely chopped (about 1/4" pieces) apple (I used Liberty apples, which are a slightly tart variety)

For the crumble topping:
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. I find that spraying the liners lightly with cooking spray ensures the liners peel off easily after the muffins have baked.
2. Melt the butter on the stovetop or in a microwave. Set aside to cool.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. Pour the cooled melted butter into the flour mixture and stir to combine.
4. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Stir to combine, but do not overmix. Fold in the apples. Divide the batter (it will be thick) evenly into the prepared muffin cups. (Each muffin cup should be filled to the top.)
5. In a small bowl, stir together the sugars, flour, cinnamon, and sea salt with a fork. Use the fork or a pastry blender to incorporate the butter into the sugar mixture, forming pea-sized crumbles. Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over top the muffins.
6. Bake the muffins in the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until the muffins are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven and let cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Then remove the muffins from the tin and let cool completely on a wire rack. Any remaining muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days, though they are best eaten the day they are baked.

(lightly adapted from this recipe by a farmgirl's dabbles)