Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Jumbo Apricot Muffins

I love recipes that tell a story.  Sure, I cruise online to discover yummy recipes that have zero sentimental value, they're just yummy.  But I love the recipes that are a part of my history.  I have family recipes from both sides of the family, some dating back to great-great people who made those same recipes in an entirely different era.  Some are recipes I jotted down on travels -- collecting memories of meals and the people I ate them with.  My recipe box is like a scrapbook of places and people and times I remember and the food connected with them.

This recipe doesn't have much history behind it.  Yet.  I created this recipe a few years ago when I
needed another breakfast baked good to serve at camp.  Cinnamon Sugar Breakfast Muffins were easy to make and everyone loved them, but we wanted some variety to what we serve over a week at camp, so I concocted this muffin recipe, using dried apricots, which are available here all year round.

Someday, when I pull the index card out of my recipe box with this recipe on it, I will remember staying up til 1am baking muffins for campers the next morning -- the house dark, husband and babies asleep, the only lights on in the kitchen, and dozens and dozens of muffins stacked on cooling racks.  And it will be a part of my history, my recipe scrapbook.

These are certainly delicious muffins -- a hint of almond flavor, the burst of tangy apricot, a sprinkle of sugar on top for a crusty, sparkly top.  Try them out -- they may end up someday part of your recipe history....

The Step-By-Step

Make the Batter

First, preheat oven to 350F (175C).  Now mix together your dry ingredients.

Get another bowl, and mix your wet ingredients (remember to beat the eggs first).

Pour the wet into the dry and mix together.  You don't need a mixer for this, just a wooden spoon is fine.

As a general rule, muffin batter can have lumps.  Overbeating the batter to make it smooth will end in tougher muffins.

Now we need to chop the dried apricots into delectable little chunks.  I find that if my apricots are particularly sticky, it helps to grease the knife first.  Just a little oil on a tissue or napkin, and wipe it up and down the blade, and your apricots will be much more cooperative.

See, aren't they behaving nicely?  No clinging desperately to the knife.  And look at that color!  No photo editing required.

 Stir those in until they are just combined.

Prep and Bake

Line your muffin pans however you'd like.  I do not have any jumbo muffin liners on hand, but I do have these handy paper things that make your muffins look all bakery-like. (For tips on how to use these papers, check out the S'mores Mini Pies post - link here).

Scoop out your batter into the lined muffin tin.  Since these are jumbo muffins, I used two scoops of batter in each one.  Which comes out to precisely 15 muffins.  Handy.

Sprinkle a little sugar on the unbaked muffins.  Pop them in the oven for about 30 minutes and that sugar will create a lovely sugary crust on top as it bakes -- plus it adds a nice sparkle.

See how they sparkle?  (Ok, ok, so a little photo editing was required here....)

But seriously, aren't they gorgeous?  And great for breakfast with a cup of coffee.  Or for a snack.  Or for dinner, whatever.

See those lovely chunks of apricot?  Mmmmm.

The Recipe

4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar + extra for sprinkling
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 cup oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots

Preheat oven to 350F (175C)

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

In another mixing bowl, mix thoroughly the beaten eggs, the milk, the oil and the extract.

Pour liquid into dry, and mix together with a spoon (not a mixer).  A few lumps are ok, don't overmix.

Chop apricots (grease your knife blade if the apricots are sticky). Stir them into the batter.

Line jumbo muffin tins with preferred muffin liners.  Divide muffin batter between 15 spots.  Sprinkle unbaked muffins with sugar.

Bake about 30 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool on wire rack.