Since everyone else is already talking about politics, I won’t. But I will admit that I’ve been stressed out. When I’m stressed out, I get anxious. When I get anxious, I need to find something to do or else I will obsessively tap the tips of my fingers together and start chewing on my cheek (gross, right?…But, does anyone else do that? I can’t be the only one) while my brain runs a mile a minute. Usually, that leads me to the kitchen; if everything else in the world is in upheaval, that room will still make sense.
When I stress-bake, I can’t do anything fancy because my brain is running so fast. I need a simple recipe that I know always works out so that when I’m done, I won’t be even more stressed because my creation didn’t turn out. Back in November, I was making some awesome apple muffins every week (pics on Instagram @loveiskneaded). They were from a super simple recipe and turned out better every time! So last Friday night, as I was furiously chewing my cheek, I gathered everything that I would need to make apple muffins and got to work distracting my hands.
The most bad-ass aspect of these muffins is the maple syrup-sauteed apples. OMFG, they’re amazing. I typically use honeycrisp apples, but any type will work. I melt a little bit of margarine in a frying pan so that the apples won’t burn, and toss them in when the pan is hot. Then I add a pinch of salt and a big swirl of Michigan maple syrup and let them fry up a little bit. Once the apples are soft and the maple syrup is aromatic, I transfer them to a bowl to cool.
Next, I combine all of the dry ingredients like salt, cinnamon, gluten-free baking mix, etc., in a large mixing bowl and sift them together with a whisk. In a small bowl, I melt more margarine in the microwave and pour it into a medium-sized mixing bowl with room-temperature eggs, unsweetened almond milk and vanilla extract. I’ve heard that room-temperature eggs help baked goods rise and keep their height after baking, and a constant issue that I’ve had with this gluten-free baking mix is that my sweets come out ridiculously dense.
I whip the wet ingredients together and add the cooled apples, stirring to get them coated. Then I pour that mixture into the large bowl of dry ingredients and gently mix until there are only a few small clumps left. I start heftily scooping that muffin batter into prepared cupcake liners in a muffin tray, and top the batter with a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon. I bake those suckers for 15 minutes in a 350-degree F oven and they come out smelling divine and looking amazing. You can smell the cinnamon as soon as you open the oven door to pull them out.
I let these muffins cool completely in the pan and can never wait long enough before I eat one. Even with my tongue burning, I can taste the sweet cake and earthy cinnamon. The muffins are light and creamy and the sauteed apples are a wonderful break in flavor. You can really taste the maple syrup, which adds depth to the cinnamon in the cake – it’s like an awesome roundabout intersection of flavor, every element playing into one another.
With a few apple muffins in my stomach, I fell asleep easily Friday night. I woke up Saturday morning with a cup of chai tea and another muffin, relaxed and more optimistic. There’s a lot going on in the world right now that just doesn’t make sense, but I know that apples and cinnamon will always make perfect sense.
Recipe for Apple Muffins
1 3/4 C. Gluten-free baking mix
5 1/2 tbslsp. margarine, 1/2 tblsp. separated
2 eggs, room temperature
1 apple, small diced
1 tblsp. maple syrup
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tblsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. + 1 pinch salt, pinch separated
1/2 C. water
1 1/4 C. almond milk, unsweetened
1/3 C. white sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
1 tblsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake liners in muffin tin – I had 12. Use butter or cooking spray to prep the liners.
Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and sift them together. Melt 1/2 T margarine in frying pan and add diced apple, maple syrup and pinch of salt. When apples are soft, transfer to a bowl; allow to cool. In a small bowl, melt remaining margarine in microwave. Combine melted margarine with eggs, almond milk and vanilla in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add cooled apples and stir. Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and fold until fully mixed.
Pour heaping spoonfuls into cupcake liners and sprinkle topping over batter. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow muffins to cool in pan.