Apple picking in the Blue Ridge Mountains and tender apple rye muffins that taste like fall.
On a day when the weather was finally cool, when peak fall ought to have arrived decked out in its most glorious colors, but instead showed up in only yellow and looking pretty bedraggled, my oldest daughter who’s nine (nine!) hiked with me through a mountainside orchard. Rotten apples squished under foot while we searched for the last of the orchard’s Fujis. We filled a couple of pecks as we meandered among the trees.
I’m almost always late to apple picking and this year was no exception.
Still, we found plenty of already-picked apples in the barn, and then made our way home with donuts and cider in our bellies and a couple of pecks of apples accidentally rolling around in the way back of the station wagon.
Deciding what to do with my hoard was pretty simple. I’ve been dreaming of apple cake for a while now, but opted instead for cake in a more portable form. These muffins are pretty great. The juicy sweetness of freshly picked apples comes through nicely. The springy crumb features a nutty mix of whole wheat and rye flours and olive oil, and is unapologetically spiced with cinnamon and ginger. An apple muffin ought to taste like fall and these do so beautifully.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m selective about the places we pick apples with our kids and always try to find a low-spray or organic options. In the NYC region, I’m a fan of Fishkill Farms. Here in Charlottesville, I like to go apple picking at Henley’s Orchard because it’s small and family run and also low-spray.
- 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup rye flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup shredded apple (from 2 - 3 medium apples)
- 1/2 cup good-tasting extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
- In a small bowl, whisk to combine flours, baking powder and soda, spices, and sea salt. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and brown sugar on low for 4 minutes or until pale and frothy. Fold in vanilla and apple. With mixer on low, add half the flour, the olive oil, and remaining flour. Switch off mixer and stir by hand just until all the flour is folded in.
- Spoon into prepared muffin tin. Top muffins with a sprinkle of sugar and a few flecks sea salt, if desired.
- Bake until muffins are golden brown, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 25 - 35 minutes. Cool briefly, then serve (preferably slathered with salted butter).
- Muffins will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days.