Apple Streusel Muffins
I almost didn’t make these streusel-topped apple muffins because the recipe called for crème fraîche.
Rolling around in the produce drawer were four bruised, beaten and unsightly apples; three are holdovers from a supply bought in late 2016 for work lunches while the fourth was swiped from the Ottawa airport’s Maple Leaf Lounge in February.
If it is not obvious, no one around here falls for that old apple-a-day thing.
So, I was looking for something more interesting than pie to make with them (especially since Dan put forth a fabulous pie performance back on Day 50) and found an article called “15 Things To Do With All the Apples You’ll Pick this Fall,” which included a recipe for Streusel-Topped Apple Pie Muffins.
So far, so good. Muffins are easy to make, I’m a push-over for a streusel topping and those apples aren’t getting any fresher.
But the recipe called for — in fact, raved about — the crème fraîche. The muffins were so much better because of the crème fraîche, the author was going to use crème fraîche all the time now, blah blah blah. I’m not usually shy about substituting ingredients but this one was a struggle.
The recipe said if you don’t have crème fraîche, use sour cream. Which I also didn’t have. My instinct said use plain yogurt in thr fridge. The devil on my other shoulder challenged that suggestion. “You don’t even know what crème fraîche is,” it accused. (Correctly.) “Is it sweet or sour? Thick or thin?”
All that racket was making it hard to think. The Internet wasn’t helping with suggestions like “make your crème fraîche using heavy cream and, if you have it, crème fraîche.”
Finally I located a story on bonappetit.com, whose author apparently went through exactly the same dilemma as I did. Which is a little weird, come to think of it. But she went the extra mile and pulled together a story that details every variation of dairy substitutions.
Because honestly, we can’t all be stocking our fridges with skim milk, whole milk, buttermilk, low-fat yogurt, full-fat yogurt, sour cream, mascarpone cheese and crème fraîche. I don’t have room for all that plus the apples from four months ago.
The solution, as it turns out, was to use the yogurt thinned out a bit with milk. It worked like a charm. And the muffins? So worth the agony.
Kitchen Castoff Used
Two beaten, bruised apples
This is how we did it
For the muffins
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp fine salt
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 eggs, preferably at room temperature
- 1 cup (packed) brown sugar
- 1 cup crème fraîche, full-fat sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt thinned with a bit of milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 apples, peeled, cored and diced in irregular sizes ranging from very small to sugar cube size.
For the streusel
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
Heat oven to 400 degrees, and coat a regular-sized muffin tin with cooking spray, inside the cups and on the top.
In one bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, ginger and nutmeg. In another bowl, combine the eggs, brown sugar, crème fraîche and vanilla then slowly pour in the melted butter while whisking vigourously. If your eggs are still cold from the fridge, wait a bit before adding the butter as the warm butter will start to harden when it touches the cold eggs.
Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and gently until everything is just barely combined. Don’t over-mix. Stir in the chopped apples. Fill the muffin tin, using all the batter.
For the streusel, combine the flour, sugars and salt into a bowl and mix. Then pour in the melted butter and gently stir with a fork until it is all combined and you have some small pebble-size pieces.
Top each muffin with a heaping tablespoon of streusel, lightly pressing it into the batter. Bake muffins for 18 to 25 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
Curious about my “Kitchen Castoffs” concept? Here’s the explainer describing my 100-day project.
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