Baked Apple Cider Muffins

Wow these were amazing! I got this recipe from the New York Times Cooking app and had been wanting to make it for a while! I had some leftover apple cider from a trip to the orchard a few weeks ago and decided to give it a try! These were delicious! They are the same as the apple cider donuts traditionally sold by apple orchards but even better! I liked them more because I felt that they didn’t get soggy after a day or two of sitting around and they were a joy to eat! They had the same texture as a donut but without all the fat and grease from being deep-fried! The original recipe is for baked donuts but the only thing that makes them donuts is being baked in a donut pan. Because I am a college student and not a professional baker, I do not have a donut pan. However, I have multiple muffin pans that I put to great use as part of this recipe! It has been tasted and approved by my boyfriend so I feel very good about putting this recipe out for the world to see!

There isn’t a lot of technique involved with the recipe but there are a few tricks to know about the butter and eggs used in this recipe. For butter, most recipes call for softened or room temperature butter. It is ALWAYS better to leave butter out overnight to soften but I have found that the microwave works out just fine in a pinch. I microwave butter for thirty second intervals and keep a close eye on the butter. Once it is easy to leave an indent in the butter, it doesn’t need to be microwaved anymore and has reached the softened or room temperature stage. Another trick with temperature is with eggs. I leave my eggs in the fridge most of the time because I’m never sure when I’ll use them next. This recipe calls specifically for room temperature eggs as do many recipes with an end product that is moist but strong. An easy trick for getting eggs closer to room temperature is to boil some water. Let it cool and then pour it over the eggs. The temperature of the water will gently heat the eggs without cooking them completely. This is an easy trick that can help you stick to your recipe and get great end results. I used both of these tricks while making these muffins because they were a spur of the moment decision! I hope that you are able to be equally spontaneous in your creation of baked goods and I wish you luck with these! Happy baking!

Baked Apple Cider Muffins

For the Muffins

  • 225 grams (1 3/4 cup) All Purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 140 grams (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 165 grams (3/4 cup) light brown sugar
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 120milliliters (1/2 cup) apple cider

For the Topping

  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • To coat: 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a muffin sheet and a half. This recipe made me about 15 muffins so be prepared to move to the second pan.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In a separate and larger bowl, cream together the butter and two sugars. Beat until light and fluffy
  4. Once fluffy, beat in the eggs one at a time, ensuring they are fully mixed in. Then add the vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
  5. In two additions, add the flour mixture, stirring in between additions. Gently pour in apple cider and stir until the batter becomes smooth and consistent.
  6. Divide the batter evenly amongst the prepared cups and bake 23-27 minutes. Time will vary based on the heat and strength of your oven. Check for done-ness by inserting a toothpick into the center of a muffin and if it comes out clean, then it’s done!
  7. While muffins are baking, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon and melt the butter. Keep the cinnamon-sugar and butter separate.
  8. Once the muffins are done, let sit in the pan for five minutes. Once cool enough to touch, dip in butter then roll in cinnamon sugar. If you’re an enthusiast with the sugar, you may need to make more. If so, use the same amounts as before and store whatever you don’t use as long as it hasn’t touched butter.
  9. Enjoy your muffins right away or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container and enjoy!

Pluot Tarte Tatin

So this started as a big mistake on my weeks produce box. Since coming back to Baltimore for a slightly strange school year, I decided to sign up for Hungry Harvest which is a service meant to rescue ugly or excess produce and was started at the University of Maryland! In my first order, I didn’t quite read the fine print while customizing my order and accidentally ordered 30+ pluots…Yikes! While I do love pluots and my boyfriend has grown fond of them, there is no way that the two of us could consume that many without starting to hate them. At the suggestion of Jason, I turned my pluots into a modified tarte tatin and it was delicious to eat! I will concede that this is not a “true” tarte tatin as it does not have a caramelized bottom but I think the maple syrup base adds more flavor than the overwhelmingly sugary taste of caramel. I would like to make some changes to the recipe at some point so if I have time to experiment, I’ll update the recipe.

For this recipe, I ended up making my own puff pastry which I think went rather well for my first attempt. There weren’t as many layers as I was hoping for but I think it was an impressive showing for my first attempt. Pluots also have a high volume of water and they may have soaked the pastry a little too much, retarding the rise of the layers of pastry. Either way, Jason and I have nearly polished off the whole tart in two days which I think is rather impressive! I also remembered after the fact that for a liquid filling, you normally cut a little steam hole in the top of the tart in order to let the moisture escape. Guess who forgot their steam hole? I can’t wait to make this again with a few improvements. I also really enjoyed the process of making puff pastry, with a cold countertop, it wasn’t nearly as daunting as it looks on television. I did have much more time to leisurely make the pastry which I think is key for keeping the butter chilled. The pastry can be made throughout the day between larger tasks and then rested overnight before use. Obviously, if you’re rushed for time, do NOT try to make your own pastry! As Ina Garten says, if you can’t make your own, store-bought is fine. Especially if you’re a novice baker, pastry can be tricky and finicky and you may have more failure than success but I encourage you to keep going, you will get there one of these days!

Pluot Tarte Tatin Recipe

For the Puff Pastry (Paul Hollywood’s Recipe)

Makes double what you need for the tarte tatin, roughly 600 grams

  • 150 grams chilled Bread flour
  • 150 grams chilled All Purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt (1/4 teaspoon)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100 milligrams cold water
  • 250 grams chilled unsalted European-style butter
  1. Combine the flours, salt, eggs, and water in a large bowl and gently mix to an even dough. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth (up to 10 minutes). The dough will feel tight. Shape into a bowl, wrap in plastic, and chill in the fridge overnight.
  2. Flatten the butter into a rectangle, 15″x 7″ and return it to the fridge, overnight or for at least an hour to harden.
  3. Roll out the dough to 24″x 8″ and place the butter on the dough so it covers the bottom two-thirds of the dough.
  4. Fold the exposed dough on the top over the butter and then fold the bottom butter covered third over the top flap. Pinch the edges together to seal and put into a plastic bag to chill for 1 hour.
  5. Take the dough out of the fridge and place on a slightly floured surface. Roll it out to a rectangle and fold the bottom and top quarters to meet in the center. Fold this dough in half and chill in a bag for another hour. (This is a book turn! It creates lamination very quickly so if you want more layers, make the next two turns book turns rather than single turns)
  6. Take the dough out and roll it into a rectangle. Fold down the top third of the dough and then fold up the bottom third to make a square of dough. Wrap and chill for another hour. (This is a single turn)
  7. Repeat step 6 and chill overnight. After overnight chill, the pastry can be used at will or frozen up to three months. If frozen, thaw in the fridge the night before.

For the Tarte Tatin (Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Plum Tarte Tatin recipe)

Serves about 8,

  • 600 grams ripe pluots, de-pitted and halved
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 120 milligrams maple syrup
  • 30 milligrams water
  • 320 grams puff pastry, rolled into a circle
  • Vanilla Ice Cream for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Warm a cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add pluots to the pan with the water and cook for 1 minute. Place them carefully for decorative purposes, a tarte tatin is turned upside down to serve so the base ends up on top.
  4. From a height, sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon over the pan and evenly pour the maple syrup over the pluots. (The cinnamon is sprinkled from a height to prevent it being burned in the pan, which is v unpleasant, and it helps it to spread evenly on the pluots)
  5. Place the pastry over the pluots and using a spoon or your hands, press the pastry to the edges and over the pluots. Trim excess pastry and use it to patch any holes. Use a paring knife to cut a small hole in the center to allow steam out.
  6. Bake at the bottom of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and puffed up.
  7. Using GOOD and LONG oven gloves, place a plate over the skillet and flip the tarte out of the pan. If properly baked, it shouldn’t stick at all.
  8. Dish up with ice cream and sprinkle remaining cinnamon on top. Enjoy!

Blueberry Pie

For the Fourth of July (I know this post is wee bit behind the curve) I decided to tackle pie! I’ve never liked pie all that much but I know that it’s revered as an American classic by many, including my boyfriend. The only pie I can remember enjoying was my cousin’s strawberry and rhubarb pie that had crunch but still melted in the mouth.

I ventured into the realm of fruit pie for the fourth with the help of Los Angeles food writer, Ben Mims. In the food section from the Los Angeles times, Mr. Mims extolled the virtue of this simply made blueberry pie and I had to try it. Be warned, this pie took three days from start to finish. It’s not a particularly complicated recipe but it takes a long time to set. Mr. Mims was also very specific on the way certain things should be done such as the washing of the blueberries and the preparation of the crust and I followed his directions to a T.

On July 2nd, I made the crust and on the 3rd, I made the filling. Following the recommendation of Mr. Mims, I allowed the pie to set overnight before serving it for our Fourth of July lunch. I was pleasantly surprised by the positive reaction of my family because we are collectively not big on pie. I found that the amount of cornstarch was slightly overwhelming and made the blueberry gel too jelly-like but my mother thought it was just fine. I found that if made again, I would make some minor modifications but for now, here is the recipe for my lovely Fruit Pie for the Fourth of July.

Blueberry Pie Recipe

For the Crust

  • 1 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2″ cubes, (113 grams)

For the Filling

  • 2 pounds and 2 ounces blueberries, cleaned
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 3/4 cup filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Topping

  • 12 ounces cold heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

To Make the Crust

  1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and use fingers to rub the butter in until the mixture forms pea sized crumbles (can use the food processor to do this as well)
  2. Add 1/3 cup ice water and toss the mixture with a fork until it begins to come together.
  3. Turn out the crumbly mass and pat together. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
  4. Unwrap the dough and roll out to an 11″ circle that is 1/8″ thick. Flour this circle and roll it around the rolling pin.
  5. Let the dough fall over the 9″ pie plate or tin, letting gravity pull the dough down to fill in the tin. Don’t push the dough in, the thinness of the dough means that it may rip if you do so.
  6. Trim the dough until there is 1/2″ of dough left hanging around the edges of the pie plate. Fold this additional dough over the rim of the pie plate, creating a double layer of crust at the top. Crimp with fingers or a fork and freeze for 30 minutes.
  7. Heat the oven to 425F and crumple up some aluminum foil. Reflatten the ball and place it over the frozen pie crust. Add in about 4 cups of pie weights or rice or lentils to where the entire pie crust is filled (I did not do this and part of my crust slipped down, see the above picture)
  8. Bake crust until the edges turn light brown, about 25 minutes.
  9. Remove the crust from the oven in order to remove the pie weights. Turn the temperature down to 375F and bake for another 20 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack to cool

For the Filling

  1. Reserve 1/3 cup of blueberries and place the rest in a large bowl.
  2. In a saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in the filtered water and mix until smooth. Add the reserved blueberries. Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the mix thickens to a stiff gel, about 5 minutes.
  3. Once thickened, stir gel to break up blueberries to color the gel about one minute more. The gel should turn a dark magenta.
  4. Remove the gel from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and vanilla extract while still hot.
  5. Pour the gel over the large bowl of blueberries and use a large rubber spatula to fold the gel into the blueberries until they are fully coated.
  6. Immediately spoon the filling into the cooled pie crust, mounding it up slight. In between spoonfuls, stir the blueberries to make sure the gel doesn’t coagulate on the bottom.
  7. Smooth the berries and let cool while preparing the topping

For the Topping

  1. Beat the heavy whipping cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Once the blueberry filling is cooled, top with the whipped cream and decorate as desired. You can pipe it out over the filling for a neater look or pile it on the filling for a more rustic look.