Another good apple year in the mountains
This looks like another good apple year in Virginia City, and I’m sure you’ll remember how I love to brag about our apples.
The Yellow Transparents are ripening up early this year and I’ve already made some strudel, a pie with a Dutch crumb crunch topping, and a couple of batches of these easy apple muffins for recent guests. The heritage Yellow Transparents are the first apples to ripen, usually in August. As our weather was unusually warm early this year these apples have been on the fast track. Thank global warming. Yellow Transparents were named for the pale yellow thin skin which looks translucent when the apple was fully ripe. They were widely grown in Europe during the 19th century and made their way to the States in 1870. Crisp and light, they are one of the best cooking apples known.
Growing fruit trees in Virginia City is not a new idea. In researching the Piper family, I recently discovered the Gold Hill News mentioned “pomologist” and Opera House entrepreneur John Piper had a pear orchard in town prior to the Great Fire of 1875. Our Bartlett pear tree seems to do well here every year, although the apples are a little more persnickety and produce an overabundance of apples only every two or three years.
That reminds me a substitution of pears for apples can be made in this recipe. Keep this in mind for those days in the not-too-distant future when the pears will be ripe. You may want to change up the spices in these muffins, also. Try a dash of nutmeg, cloves and/or cardamom for a spicier muffin, or try fresh orange peel for a fruitier note.
Apple Currant Sour Cream Muffins
2 tart cooking apples like the Yellow Transparent or Granny Smiths, chopped coarsely, about 1 1/2 cups
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried currants
Preheat oven to 375. Peel and coarsely chop apples and toss with lemon juice. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, and sugar. Mix all wet ingredients, eggs, sour cream, melted butter and vanilla, together with a fork. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in medium mixing bowl and blend with fork until just blended. Fold in chopped apples and dried currants. Use butter flavored spray to grease 12 regular sized muffin tins. Fill each muffin cup with batter. Top with walnut streusel. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean without batter. Makes 12 muffins.
For high elevations, use two teaspoons of baking powder and eliminate the baking soda.
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
Mix all streusel ingredients together and top muffin batter with a tablespoon or more of walnut streusel before baking.
This recipe can be slimmed down by the use of plain low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream and a low-fat margarine/butter substitute. Happy eating!
Carolyn Eichin owns B Street House Bed and Breakfast in Virginia City.