There’s a few things about the fall that really make it my favorite season. I love the crisp, sunny weather. I love all the colors of the foliage. And I really love apple picking.
Apple picking rocks. And last week, David and I went out to Aamodt’s Apple Farm. It was everything an apple orchard should be, which both delighted and surprised me.
I know it’s a bit narrow-minded of me, but apples come from New England. That’s just always how I’ve thought about it. Apples are a New England thing. And going apple picking is something I remember doing as a kid, and then again sporadically in my adolescence.
A truly great apple picking experience requires two things: hot apple cider, and apple cider donuts. Aamodt’s, clearly a worthy apple orchard, had both. In addition to the two bags of apples that we picked ourselves, we bought an additional bag at the store in the barn. We also bought some local honey (which I have been enjoying immensely in my morning tea) and I bought one tiny old fashioned caramel (which was out of this world).
But before the shopping, naturally, I insisted that we get to the heart of the whole apple picking experience: the cider and the donuts.
I like apples as much as the next gal, but the whole point of apple picking is going inside the barn, with your cheeks red from the crisp cool air, and sitting down on a wooden bench with a cup of hot apple cider and an apple cider donut to dunk in it. Mmmmm… I’m ready to go apple picking all over again!
…Not that we need to. We certainly picked our fill. We got a bit overzealous, actually, and wound up with way more apples than we could possible need. So I have been doing a LOT of baking. Apple butter, applesauce, German applecake. Apple pies, apple crisp, and apple dumplings are forthcoming. And yet still we have apples upon apples upon apples in our kitchen.
One of my favorite recipes ever (and this is saying something) is my recipe for Pumpkin Apple Spice Muffins. You must, I mean, you really, really must make these muffins. Soon. They are a perfect bite of autumn. So aromatic, so flavorful, so GOOD. You can make them for a big brunch like I did two weeks ago, or you can make a batch for you and your family, like I’m about to do. These freeze extremely well, so you don’t have to worry about devouring them all in one sitting, which is a very real danger because these muffins are THAT DELICIOUS.
Best Ever Pumpkin Apple Spice Muffins
- 2 1/2 cups of flour (up to half can be whole wheat)
- 2 cups of sugar (brown or white. I prefer brown, personally)
- 1/2 cup of applesauce (I’m using homemade applesauce this time around, but store bought works just as well).
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 can of pumpkin puree; not pumpkin pie filling. (You can also use 1 cup of homemade pumpkin puree which I swear to try out myself sometime soon. In the meantime I’m a fan of Libby’s).
- Several apples, peeled, cored, and chopped. (Depending on size the number will vary. I used about 6 smallish-medium apples today. I like a lot of apple in my muffins!)
- 1 tsp of baking soda
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp of ginger
- scant 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine eggs, pumpkin puree, and applesauce in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, stirring to combine. Add the flour one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Gently fold in the apples. Grease a muffin tin well (I recently discovered Baker’s Joy and I’m in LOVE! I also like using cupcake liners). For nicely domed bakery-esque muffins, fill tin to the top with batter. This method will produce roughly 18 regular sized muffins. If you fill each tin 3/4 of the way full, you can get 24 regular sized muffins. Personally, I prefer the pretty domes. Plus, more muffin! You can sprinkle some sugar over the tops for some crunch and sparkle if you like! Place muffin tin on the center rack and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack, and enjoy!
Keep your eyes peeled for the next Land Locked (and in Love!) post, which will be written by a very special guest!
*Lots of love, and perhaps a prize, if you can identify the source of the quote in the title!