Peach muffins
PAUL E. RODRIGUEZ/TNS

The wonderful aroma that permeates the kitchen when muffins are baking in the oven makes getting up in the morning a pleasure.

If you enjoy experimenting with new recipe ideas, muffins are a good place to start. You might be surprised at the number of new and exciting muffins you can develop simply by taking a look in your food pantry and refrigerator for whatever ingredients you have on hand.

Many years ago, there was a recipe for a “mock” apple pie made with Ritz crackers. Later, when I was in a creative baking mood, I decided to see if I could make a new muffin recipe by using this cracker idea. I cooked the cracker crumbs with apple juice until it was the consistency of applesauce, which was perfect for a flavorful and cake-like muffin.

We Southerners  also love peaches, and a combination of peach preserves and sour cream makes a wonderful muffin. You could also use strawberry preserves or jam instead of the peach preserves for a strawberries-and-cream muffin.

PEACHES AND CREAM MUFFINS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup peach preserves
  • ⅓ cup oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tin. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir to mix. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, sour cream, preserves and oil. Add to the dry ingredients and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix. Fill muffin cups about ⅔ full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center of muffin. Remove from pan immediately and cool slightly on a rack. Makes 12 muffins.

APPLE MYSTERY MUFFINS

  • ⅔ cup unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ cup coarsely crumbled Ritz crackers (about 14 crackers)
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 egg

Apple glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons apple juice

Makes 12 muffins. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins. Combine apple juice, ½ cup brown sugar and cinnamon in small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add crackers and reduce heat to medium. Cook until mixture reaches the consistency of applesauce. Remove from heat and stir in raisins.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, butter, egg and remaining ½ cup brown sugar. Beat until smooth. Stir in cracker mixture. Fill muffin cups ⅔ full and bake for 18 to 20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into muffin. Remove from pan and place on rack to cool slightly.

To make glaze: Combine confectioners’ sugar and apple juice. Beat until smooth. Drizzle over cooled muffins.

Award-winning chef Prudence Hilburn’s cooking column appears every other week. Contact her at prudencehilburn@aol.com.