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The Kitchn: Treat your family to a batch of cozy apple muffins

From the 5 cozy recipes to try this week series
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These tender muffins are studded with chunks of fresh apple and showered with plenty of cinnamon-sugar.

These warm apple muffins, kissed with cinnamon-sugar, are the coziest breakfast to wake up to in the morning. Unlike dense, super-sweet muffins that taste more like dessert, these muffins are fluffy and just lightly sweetened, with chunks of tart apples that help balance everything out. Sit down to one with your morning coffee, or pack one up for breakfast on the go.

What kind of apples are best for muffins?

Tart apples, such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp or Gala are the best choice for these muffins. These kinds of apples lend tangy, juicy sweetness, which is the perfect counterpart to the moist and fluffy crumb. They also hold their shape well when baked, which means the chunks of fruit remain evenly scattered throughout the muffins.

Do I need to peel the apples?

There’s no need to peel the apples for these muffins, as the skin will become tender in the oven. Skipping this step keeps prep time to a minimum, which means you can have warm muffins on your breakfast table even faster. However, if you’d prefer to peel them, you absolutely can.

The secret to making moist apple muffins

There’s a fine line between using too little and too much apple in muffins. The fruit lends lots of moisture to the muffins’ crumb, so if you use too little the muffins will end up dry and lacking in flavor. But if you overload the batter with apple chunks, the muffins may bake up gummy or dense. This recipe calls for just the right amount of apples to ensure perfectly moist muffins.

Apple Muffins

Serves 12

  • Paper muffin liners or cooking spray
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 4 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups whole or 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 medium tart apples (about 12 ounces total), such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp

1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375 F. Line a standard 12-well muffin pan with paper liners or coat the wells with cooking spray.

2. Whisk 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons of the ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt together in a large bowl. Stir the remaining 4 teaspoons granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside for the topping.

3. Place 1 1/4 cups whole or 2% milk, 1/2 cup neutral oil, 1 large egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract together in a medium bowl and whisk until combined. Core and dice 2 medium apples (peel first if desired, about 2 1/2 cups).

4. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Some lumps are fine. Gently fold in the diced apple.

5. Divide the batter between the muffin wells, about 1/3 cup of batter per well. Sprinkle each muffin with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon-sugar.

6. Bake until the muffins are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing the muffins from the pan.

Recipe notes

Quick bread variation: To bake as a quick bread, line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with a parchment paper sling and coat the pan and paper lightly with cooking spray. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle with sugar, and bake at 375 F until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 45 to 60 minutes.

Storage: Muffins will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. They can also be frozen, then thawed at room temperature.

(Sheela Prakash is a senior contributing food editor for TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to editorial@thekitchn.com.)

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