Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I know it’s not apple season but sometimes you just need a warm, cinnamon-y apple muffin with your morning coffee. If the weekend forecast is grey and rainy for you like it is for me, these would be the perfect weekend baking project.

This recipe is based off of Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe for Bakery Style Muffins, which are fluffy and golden with a tender crumb. To make these apple cinnamon muffins, I (of course) added cinnamon (plus some cardamom, one of my favorite spices) and diced apples. I opted for honeycrisp apples but use whatever baking apples you prefer or have on hand. I would, however, steer away from a tarter apple like Granny Smith in this case, as I think a sweet apple pairs better with the soft, warmly spiced muffin.

The Cook’s Illustrated recipe actually calls for not using any muffin liners but instead just greasing the muffin tin. The rationale is that when you peel back the liners, parts of the muffin tend to go with it.

I’ve never had that be a big issue with my tulip cupcake liners and, honestly, I just think they’re pretty so I used them! These are the ones I have, but there are a lot of options nowadays with bright colors and patterns.

I also wanted a crunchy, sugary crust on these (who doesn’t love a sugar crust on their muffins?) so I sprinkled coarse sanding sugar over each muffin before baking. If you want to get a little fancy, a streusel topping would be delicious on these as well. For the streusel topping, mix together 3 Tbsp sugar, 3 Tbsp brown sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp AP flour in a small bowl. Drizzle with 5 Tbsp melted butter and stir with a fork until moistened and the mixture clumps. Then just sprinkle the streusel over each muffin before baking and you’ll be rewarded with an extra buttery, crunchy top.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups yogurt (I used low-fat Greek)
  • 3 small apples, peeled and diced, about 1 1/2 cups (I used honeycrisp)
  • Coarse sanding sugar for sprinkling on top

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners. Mix together the flour, cinnamon, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each addition.

With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the yogurt in 2, starting and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the mixer’s bowl as needed. Fold in the apples.

Divide the batter evenly amongst the muffin cups. Sprinkle sugar on top – coarse sanding sugar is the best to get that sweet sugary crust on top, but regular granulated sugar will work too! Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes before turning out from the muffin pan and serving. Enjoy!

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