After I made those apple cider doughnuts, I stumbled on a recipe for caramel apple doughnuts. They were baked in those special doughnut pans, and then dipped in caramel. Sounds good, right? But a couple things bothered me: the need for special baking pans, and the caramel sauce made from melted caramel candies. I was sure I could do better.
First, I made homemade caramel sauce. It’s easy and takes about 10 minutes. Then I baked the doughnuts in muffin pans (the recipe even said it was adapted from a muffin recipe). I drizzled the sauce over the warm muffins, and this is what I got:
That doesn’t looks so bad. They didn’t taste bad, either, but they weren’t what I had in mind. The batter was too wet–it had too much butter and sugar (too much?!?)–and I used Granny Smith apples, whose tartness I hoped would give a nice contrast to the sweet caramel. Instead, they were a little too tart, and the muffins were more like a gooey carrot cake. I had been looking for something with a little more heft. Something I wouldn’t mind eating for breakfast or dessert.
So I tried again. This time I began with a tried and true muffin recipe, and adapted from there. And I found what I was looking for.
|Oops! I left the honey out of the picture.|
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup grated apple (a sweeter variety–I used Honey Crisp and Fuji)
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Whisk together the dry ingredients, and then rub in the softened butter with your fingers until it is completely incorporated. Whisk all the wet ingredients together (I like to do it right in my 2-cup measuring cup), stir in the grated apple, and pour the wet mixture into the dry. Stir just until the batter comes together, no more than 20 seconds.
Fill greased muffin tins 3/4 full of batter (this makes 12 standard size muffins) and pop them in the oven. Immediately turn the temperature down to 450 degrees F. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer comes out clean.
Now, you can stop right there. These are excellent muffins, and you can have them on the breakfast table in 30 minutes flat. Even less, if you substitute apple sauce for the grated apple. Wouldn’t they be good spread with a little apple butter? But remember, I had some of this:
Drizzle the caramel sauce over the warm muffins, and try not to eat them all before your family and friends get home.