They say that some of the best things in life are the simplest. I don’t know if that is always true, but I do know that I appreciate a recipe that is easy to put together and doesn’t have an ingredient list that requires me to make a trip to the market before baking. Apple Cinnamon Pecan Muffins are one of those simple recipes that you’ll find yourself making on a regular basis – not just because they’re easy, but because they’re delicious.
The muffins start with an easy buttermilk batter that is seasoned with cinnamon, vanilla and brown sugar. They are also packed with diced apples and chopped pecans, which makes for a muffin that has a nice combination of textures, as well as flavors. You could probably even put this recipe together in just one bowl, though I recommend using one bowl for the dry ingredients and one for the “wet” ingredients in the instructions below, as it helps ensure that everything is mixed properly. The best part is that this recipe only requires one apple, so you definitely won’t need to make a special trip before you start preheating your oven.
You can use just about any kind of apple that you have on hand for this recipe. Maybe you have an Granny Smith leftover from the last pie you baked. Maybe you have a Honeycrisp that you planned to pair with peanut butter as a snack. Any kind of apple will work because the muffins have a short baking time and are diced very small, so apples that tend to lose their texture during baking will still hold up and apples that need a long baking time will be small enough to become tender. The apples should be peeled and cored before being diced into very fine pieces.
In addition to the apples, of course, there are pecan pieces in these muffins. I prefer to use toasted pecans and chop them into pieces about the same size as the apple chunks. This gives you a nice distribution of the nuts with the apples, ensuring you get some of both in every bite. Feel free to substitute the pecans with walnuts if you happen to have those on hand instead.
The muffins are finished with a generous coating of cinnamon sugar, which makes them smell a bit like churros as they are baking. The sugar gives the muffins a nice crust while the extra cinnamon ties in well with the cinnamon in the batter. I don’t like to skimp on the sugar if I’m going to top a muffin that way, but if you have leftovers, simply mix it with butter and use it as a cinnamon-spiced spread when serving these. The muffins can be served warm or at room temperature.
Apple Cinnamon Pecan Muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cups diced apple (approx 1 medium apple, peeled and cored)
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, vegetable oil and egg. Stir in half of the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, followed by the buttermilk. Stir in remaining flour mixture and, when it is almost completely incorporated, mix in the diced apples and pecans until well-distributed. There should be no streaks of flour in the finished batter.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
In a small bowl, whisk together topping ingredients and sprinkle generously on top of the muffin batter.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until muffins are browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached. Transfer muffins to wire rack to cool completely.