I kinda love to experiment with exotic spices. It all started with my love of Indian food! One time, while at my favorite Indian place in Utah I asked the lanky 14-year-old boy what the main spice was in the Tikka Masala I loved so much. He held his finger up, skipped to the back kitchen, and came back to me. He leaned in and pronounced, “Garam masala.”
These muffins do not have garam masala thankyouverymuch, but they do have another exotic Indian spice in them: cardamom! It’s really difficult to describe a spice’s flavor, so I’ll just say that these apple muffins take on an entirely new dimension of flavor that just gives it new, fuller body. It’s a little like cloves, but a little more mellow and rounded. You just have to try cardamom!
And whatever you do, do not overmix your muffin batter! Barely fold the wet ingredients into the dry until it’s just mixed. You better still see streaks of flour all up in it! If you don’t have any peeking through, you’ve overmixed it and you’ll have a tough, rubbery muffin instead of a tender one. Just like women.
Granny smith apples are perfect for baking, and the tart little buggers shine even more with a little squeeze of lemon. Totally optional, but I really like the apple flavor to shine, especially in a sweet muffin.
I made six bakery-size muffins, so these babies rose nice and tall in my hot oven. I took this method from King Arthur, putting the muffins in a hot oven to get a quick rise, then immediately turning the oven down to a normal (albeit still slightly hot) baking temperature.
These apple muffins aren’t too sweet, have a couple different flavors going on, and the crunch with the oat and nut streusel on top is perfect!
If you can't find cardamom at your local grocery store, try the bulk spice section at Sprouts or Whole Foods. I love this for trying small amounts of new spices without the commitment of buying an entire container. You can sub cinnamon (with some nutmeg and cloves if you'd like!) in a pinch.
- 2 c flour
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 T baking powder
- 3/4 T cardamom
- 1 granny smith apple, cored and chopped
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 c sugar
- 1 c milk
- 1/4 c canola oil
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1/4 c butter, softened
- 1/4 c walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 c oats
- 1/3 c brown sugar
- 1/2 c flour
- 1 t cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
- Combine streusel topping ingredients in bowl with fingers until you have pea-sized clumps.
- In large bowl, whisk flour, salt, baking powder, cardamom, and chopped apple.
- In third bowl, beat eggs with whisk, add sugar, milk, canola oil, and vanilla extract. Whisk well.
- With fork, gently mix wet ingredients into dry. Mix until batter is just barely cohesive, do not overmix!
- Grease 6-tin muffin tins or 12-tin muffin tin with butter. Fill each tin 3/4 full. Crumble streusel topping over each tin.
- Place muffin tin into hot oven, then immediately turn oven temperature down to 400 degrees. Bake 15-25 minutes, depending on how big your muffins are.
- Take out when very lightly browning on edges and inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from tin after 5 minutes and set on cooling rack.
adapted from King Arthur