I always say that muffins should have substance – they shouldn't have "cakey" character. After all, they're muffins, not cake! Dense with apple, sweet with spice and topped with pecans these muffins are one of my favourites.
150g plain flour 150g wholemeal plain flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 150g (¾ cup, firmly packed) brown sugar 2 (about 180g each) apples (such as Golden Delicious, Pink Lady or Royal Gala), peeled and cut into 1.5 cm pieces 185ml (¾ cup) buttermilk (see Baker's Tips) 80ml (⅓ cup) light olive oil (see Baker's Tips) 2 eggs, at room temperature 1½ teaspoon natural vanilla essence or extract 75g (¾ cup) pecans, coarsely chopped 60ml (¼ cup) pure maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line 12 x 80ml (⅓ cup) muffin tray holes with muffin paper cases.
Sift together both the flours, the baking powder and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl, returning any husks to the bowl. Stir in the sugar and apple and make a well in the centre.
Use a fork to whisk together the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla in a bowl. Add to the flour mixture and use a spatula or large metal spoon to fold together until just combined. (Don’t overmix – the batter should still be a little lumpy.)
Spoon the mixture into the paper cases, dividing evenly. Sprinkle with the pecans and then drizzle with the maple syrup.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the muffins are golden and cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool for a few minutes in the tin before transferring to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
If you don't have any buttermilk in the fridge, replace it with 160ml (⅔ cup) full-cream milk mixed with 2 teaspoons lemon juice.
You can replace the light olive oil with sunflower or safflower oil.
These muffins are best eaten the day they are baked, however they freeze well – wrap individually in plastic wrap and then seal in a plastic bag or airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.
With its shortbread-like base, tart apple filling and crunchy crumble topping, this is a slice that you eat with a fork or spoon, not your fingers. It's more suited to dessert than afternoon tea... although, by all means, feel free to indulge mid-afternoon!
melted butter, to grease 800g apples (such as Granny Smith or Golden Delicious) 75g (⅓ cup) caster sugar 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon thick cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush a 20 x 30cm shallow slice tin with melted butter to grease.
To make the Base, put the flour, baking powder, sugar and butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg with the vanilla, add to the flour mixture and use the pulse button to process until the mixture forms a soft dough. Bring together with your hands and then press the dough evenly over the base of the greased tin to evenly cover. Place in the fridge.
Meanwhile, to make the Crumble Topping, put the flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl and use your fingertips to rub in the butter until roughly combined. Stir in the coconut and almonds.
Peel, core and thinly slice the apples and put in a large bowl. Combine the sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over the apples and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the apple slices over the Base in the tin and then sprinkle evenly with the Crumble Topping. Set aside.
Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the base is cooked, the Crumble Topping is golden, the apples are tender when tested with a skewer, and the base is cooked through.
Serve warm or at room temperature cut into portions and accompanied by cream or ice cream.
This slice is delicious served either warm or at room temperature. It will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature or warm gently in the microwave to serve.