When Fall gives way to Winter, leaves disappear...leaving naked branches behind.
What happens to arms and legs is inversely proportional. Winter announces the beginning of what I like to call Layer Season. Forget about wearing a t-shirt: now, it's all about long sleeves plus various sweaters, a coat and a scarf. Layer Season comes and goes along its own agenda, depending on the years. And that is exactly why L.S. and I aren't buddy-buddy.
Remember, Layer Season, when you came along in October? I was six years old and I can tell you I still haven't forgotten. Forget being dressed as Snow White for Halloween...I was Snow White-in-a-Turtleneck.
Nowadays, Layer Season making its appearance a little early isn't such an issue for me--after all, I now get to choose how I dress, and prefer to leave the turtlenecks behind pretty often. However, it seems this particular time of year has left an indelible mark on the way I bake, not the way I dress.
Summertime is all about the fresh berry tarts. Fall? Apple crisps, pumpkin muffins. And then comes a time when you get caught up in the moment, enjoying all the Fall spices and flavors. There you go--you feel like layering.
I've had one bad experience with layering before, and it involved a pumpkin pecan pie mishap. This time around, though, I went a lighter route: pumpkin and apples baked into delicious streusel-topped muffins. I'll admit it, Layer Season can have its benefits. Don't be afraid of overload with this recipe: the resulting muffins are surprisingly light, and easy to enjoy at any time of the day (i.e. you can even munch on them at work without falling asleep afterward).
So, thank you, Layer Season, for the inspiration. Just one last thing: next time I dress up as Cinderella, can you please stay out of the way for a while? Thanks.
makes approximately 14
loosely adapted from Bon Appétit, Oct. 2001
3 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 TB butter
2 TB granulated sugar
1 TS cinnamon
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. brown sugar
6 TB butter, room temperature
1/2 c. sour cream, light or regular
3/4 c. pumpkin puree
1 TS baking soda
2 TS pumpkin pie spice
1/2 TS cinnamon
1/2 TS salt
Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.
Prepare apples: melt butter over medium heat. Add apples and and cook until they begin to brown. Add sugar and cinnamon, stir, and cook another 2 minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, flour and salt together with your hands until a coarse meal forms. Set 1/2 c. of mixture aside for topping.
Add the following ingredients to the remaining flour mixture: pumpkin, sour cream, baking soda, and spices, until just combined. Add eggs one at a time.
Divide batter between greased or lined muffins pans. Top with apples, and sprinkle flour mixture on top.
Bake approximately one hour, until topping is golden. Serve warm with ice cream.