I had a moment with an apricot this weekend–well, more than one apricot, actually, and more than one moment as well. We met at the Cherry Creek Farmers market on Saturday. They blushed at me from their little cardboard box and set my heart a-flutter. I strategized about how to convince the fruit-stand owner to let me have them.
“You mean, I can actually buy these? I can pay you and you will give them to me?”
I filled a white lunch sack with the prettiest, most colorful apricots, and headed home with new plans for the afternoon. They were very photogenic.
Three hours and a hundred photographs later, it occurred to me that these little beauties could taste as good as they look…
Upon first bite, I had an epiphany. Birds chirped, and I could swear I heard a Hallelujah chorus. So this is how an apricot really tastes. The pink blushed skin stretched tightly around juicy orange flesh. At first taste, sweetness. Then, a transformation in my mouth, ending on a bright note. I think I saw a fast forward of the entire life of the apricot, from the perfect balance of Western Slope sunshine and afternoon rainstorms to the observant grower who waited for the exact right moment to pluck it from the tree, not a moment too soon.
Of course, I’d eaten apricots before, but knew that I had not yet met the epitome…until now.
As it turns out, I met two ideals this weekend; the second of which nestled within the pages of my most recent cookbook acquisition, Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce (which I won from Bon Appetit Magazine!). I first started coveting this cookbook when Deb from Smitten Kitchen featured not one, but two recipes on her blog–a rustic rhubarb tart and oatmeal pancakes. Boyce uses an assortment of whole grain flours, from the more common whole wheat and oat, to the exotic amaranth.
In the past, I’ve met whole grain baked goods with hesitation. Does anybody really enjoy eating a dense dry muffin, even if it’s good for you? Well, I was convinced as soon as I laid eyes on the beautifully photographed Cheddar Biscuits, and converted when I baked my own version of the Ginger Peach Muffins (using apricots, first, then peaches on the second batch). Kim Boyce will change the way you think about whole grain baking.
Oat flour, whole wheat flour and all purpose flour band together with sour cream, milk and butter to into a fluffy, moist muffin, unlike any other whole grain muffin I have ever tasted. They come out of the oven scented with ginger and topped with a ginger and honey glazed apricot.
Rarely do I make the same recipe more than once in a single week, but I’ve made these muffins twice; once with apricots, and once using peaches. Once alone, and once tag-team style with my good friend Karissa. They disappeared quickly both times. Plain-Jane white flour muffins will never be the same again.
Heavenly Ginger-Apricot Muffins
adapted from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce
Use your imagination and feel free to substitute the best in-season fruit you can find. Here in Denver at elevation 5280, baking can be tricky. If you’re way up high like me, adjust for high altitude using the notes below. For a pretty presentation and muffins that are easy to eat, cut 5 1/2 inch squares of parchment paper to form into muffin cups.
- 12 small apricots, ripe but firm, sliced in half (or quartered), pit removed (or any type of stone fruit or berry you desire)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 cup oat flour (I made mine by grinding oats in a coffee grinder)
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 stick of butter (6 tablespoons), melted and cooled a bit
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
- 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
- muffin tin (to hold one dozen)
- 11 5 1/2 inch squares parchment paper (or rub muffin tins with butter)
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350˚F.
Make the topping:
Place the butter, honey and 1 teaspoon ginger in a medium skillet over medium heat to melt the mixture. Cook until the mixture begins to bubble, then add the apricots and stir gently to coat. Set aside.
Make the dry and wet mixes:
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring the ingredients remaining in the sifter back into the bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the wet ingredients until combined. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine.
Fill the muffin cups:
Place a square of parchment paper on the palm of one hand. Scoop some batter onto the middle of the parchment paper, then place in a muffin cup. Add another spoonful of batter if needed so that the muffin cup is generously filled. Toss the apricots in the syrup to coat them once again. Tuck one apricot slice into the batter, and lay a second slice over top. Glaze each apricot with additional syrup.
Bake for 24 to 28 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The muffins are ready when they smell nutty and their bottoms are golden in color. Remove the muffins to a cooling rack, and allow them to cool slightly before eating. They are best when eaten the same day, but may be kept in an airtight container for up to two days.
High Altitude Notes:
I made high-altitude adaptations using Susan Purdy’s guide on Epicurious.com as a reference. These adaptations will work for elevation 5280.
- Decrease baking soda to 3/4 tsp
- Add 1 tablespoon plain yogurt to the wet mix
- Use slightly less sugar (as in, a scant 1/4 cup)