Tuesday, September 13, 2011

(It's the Season for) Apple Peach Muffins

Fall is in the air (sort-of) here in Georgia, and the produce at my local farmers market is telling the tale. My favorite thing about this summer has been reconnecting with seasonal eating. A few years ago, I was one of those who didn’t pay much attention at the produce section of the grocery store. I would buy whatever I thought looked good without much concern about where it was from or whether or not it was in season. After quite a few tasteless winter tomatoes and increased awareness of the importance of eating locally and seasonally, all of that has changed.

The perfect treat for an in-between season.

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This summer I was also lucky enough to have the Grant Park Farmers Market open up less than two miles from my house. It has been wonderful meeting the farmers and food vendors and trying new things and getting reacquainting with foods from my childhood – like fresh field peas, butter beans and heirloom tomatoes.

As summer draws to a close and I spent the weekend watching documentaries and reflecting on the September 11, 2001 tragedy, this song (written by the legendary Pete Seeger) keeps going through my head …

For everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose under Heaven.

Of course, the song is based on a passage from Ecclesiastes so I best not give Pete Seeger full credit for the lyrics. Life is full of seasons – sadness, joy, anger, gladness, longing and wholeness. I think I have experienced all of these feelings in the past few days. Soon we will be losing leaves, but gaining vibrant color and cooler temperatures. We’ll say goodbye to the tomatoes and green beans and hello to the sweet potatoes and Swiss chard. And we’ll say goodbye to the seasonal farmers markets (sniff, sniff).

For now, I am enjoying the promise of autumn. I’ve been cooking all kinds of things – even a sweet potato casserole the other day (which made it feel like Thanksgiving). But, what I want to share with you now are these muffins I whipped up this weekend. We recently went apple picking, which is one of my favorite fall things to do. Georgia is actually a major producer of apples.“Apple Alley,” as it’s called, is up near Ellijay about 90 minutes north of Atlanta. (I actually have an article about apple picking in this month’s Atlanta Parent for you local folks.)

I felt a bit like I was rushing the apple picking since the apples are just now coming in, but it was nice because the orchards were not crowded and there is already a good variety of apples to choose from. I definitely plan on going back once the Winesaps are in. They make excellent pies!

These muffins were not meant to be symbolic, but they kind of ended up that way the more I thought about them. They represent the end of summer’s offerings and the beginnings of fall’s harvest. Whip them up and enjoy with a cup of hot coffee or tea on a brisk fall morning. My six-year-old LOVED them (my 3-year-old, not so much).

Apple Peach Muffins with Crumb Topping

Muffin Ingredients
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (I use white whole wheat for a milder flavor)
½ cup plain flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 small apples, peeled and chopped into ½ inch pieces (or smaller)
2 small peaches, peeled and chopped into ½ inch pieces (or smaller)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons honey
½ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons apple cider
2 eggs

Topping Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
2/3 cup quick or old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup plain flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two 12-cup muffin tins. Stir dry ingredients (flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon) together in a small mixing bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, mix together melted butter, sugar and honey until mostly smooth (there may be a few brown sugar clumps and that’s OK). Add ½ cup buttermilk, cider and eggs (one at a time). With a wooden spoon, slowly stir dry ingredients into wet mixture. Stir in chopped fruit until just blended. Spoon into the muffins tins, filling each a little more than half full.

In the bowl used for flour mixture (unless you want to dirty up another bowl), mix together softened butter, brown sugar, oats and flour to form a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle or spoon mixture on top of each muffin.

Place on top rack of oven. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned and a tooth pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out crumbly, but not gooey. Makes approximately 18 muffins.

Tips and Ideas:
  • Use plain flour or all whole wheat flour if you'd like. You may need to adjust liquids to get the texture right.
  • These muffins are chocked full of fruit. If you'd prefer more muffin/less fruit, hold back a little of the chopped fruit before dumping it all in to see if the consistency is right for you.
  • Try all apple or all peach or other fruit combos if you'd like. 
  • For more of a streusel topping, add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the topping. If you run out of topping as you are spooning it on the unbaked muffins, make another half recipe of the topping. It's easy!
What are you looking forward to most about fall? Your comments and feedback make my day!

1 comment:

  1. Love seeing the chunks of fruit in these muffins. They look so hearty and delicious.