The one problem I've found with my new job is that my route to work passes directly by my favorite bakery in the city, The Wooden Spoon. If you live in Denver and haven't been in, its a must visit in the Highlands. It's the only bakery I've found in Denver that rivals Flour in Boston.
But I digress. The problem with passing The Wooden Spoon twice a day is that it is hard to resist the siren call of freshly-baked muffins, scones, croissant, and cookies. Who wants to eat a Greek yogurt at their desk for breakfast when they could eat a mixed berry scone instead?
After one to many visits to The Wooden Spoon, I took matters into my own hands and made muffins at home. I wasn't looking for the healthiest muffins (if you want healthy and SUPER delicious, make these Carrot Quinoa Muffins), but something that I wouldn't feel guilty eating for breakfast and that tastes great. This recipe is based on a Flour recipe from this cookbook, but I've made it healthier by substituting 0% Fat Plain Greek Yogurt and buttermilk for whole milk and creme fraiche and decreasing the sugar. I don't think you sacrifice flavor at all and still have what Joanne Chang declares in her cookbook as "The muffin recipe to end all muffin recipes."
I went a bit overboard at the farmer's market and had both apricots and cherries that needed to be used, so I made a double-batch of muffins. You could omit the almonds, but they are a wonderful compliment to stone fruit such as apricots and cherries. It turns out that this is because amonds and stone fruit are related -- if you crack open the pits of stone fruit, you'll find a soft, small kernel that looks, smells, and tastes like almond! However, don't eat the kernels as they may release a very small amount of cynanide into the body!
Apricot Almond and Cherry Almond Muffins
Adapted from The Flour Bakery cookbook
Yield = 18-24 muffins
A few notes. First, this recipe is easily adaptable. I made it both with cherries and almonds and you could easily subsitute other fruit. For example, the original recipe is for a raspberry-rhubarb version (1 cup raspberries, 1 cup rhubarb). Second, with the Apricot Almond Muffins, I filled the muffin tin as instructed to almost overflowing. With the Cherry Almond Muffins, I filled each to about 3/4 full. This yielded about 24 muffins and I liked the slightly smaller size. However, if you want a big muffin with a huge mushroom-esque top, fill them to the brim!
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg yolk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 cups non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups diced apricots (approximately 5 apricots) OR 1 1/2 cups pitted, chopped cherries
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins (if you have 2), coat the non-stick cooking spray, or line with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk until thoroughly mixed. Slowly whisk in the sugar, butter, buttermilk, Greek yogurt, and almond extract until well combined. Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, fold gently just until the ingredients are combined.
3. Gently fold in the almonds and the apricots or cherries until evenly distributed. The batter may seem lumpy, but don't try to smooth it out. The batter can be made up to 1 day in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
4. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups 3/4 full. This yielded 18 muffins for me. The original recipe asks you to fill the muffin cups until almost overflowing. I did this the first time around and it create quite a mess - I thought 3/4 full and getting a few extra muffins was the better way to go.