APPLE STREUSEL MUFFINS AND CRANBERRY-NUT BREAD

APPLE STREUSEL MUFFINS

If you use a good tart apple such as a Granny Smith, these muffins, topped with a buttery streusel, taste like mini-apple pies. Because I like lots of texture, I do not peel the apples, but you may if you prefer.

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 cups coarsely chopped tart apples

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter, chilled

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 12 standard (7-tablespoon) muffin cups or line them with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar until well mixed. Remove 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. Add the apples to the remaining flour mixture and toss to combine.

Combine the oil and the milk. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until mixed. Take care not to overmix - the batter should be slightly lumpy. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them two-thirds full. If you want extra-large muffins, fill the cups to the top.

To make the streusel topping, cut the butter into small pieces. Add the reserved flour mixture and using two knives, cut the butter until it forms rice-size pieces. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the muffins. Bake the muffins for 30 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Immediately remove them from the pans and serve warm, or cool muffins on a rack before serving.

- 'The Bread Book,' by Betsy Oppenneer (Harper Collins)

CRANBERRY-NUT BREAD

This bread is a treat whenever the bright red cranberry is on the market, especially during the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Cranberries give the loaf a slight tartness and spot it with bits of bright color. Orange peel and orange juice heighten the flavor. I usually make two small loaves - one for home and the other to give as a gift.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup shortening

3/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon grated orange rind

1 egg, room temperature, slightly beaten

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries (or substitute dried cranberries and use only 3/4 cup sugar)

In a large bowl or mixer, blend sifted flour and other dry ingredients. If making by hand, use a pastry blender or 2 knives to cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. If using a mixer, use the flat beater.

In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, grated rind, and the beaten egg. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix just enough to dampen. Don't beat. Carefully fold in the nuts and cranberries.

Pour batter into either I large (9 in. by 5 in.) or 2 small (7 in. by 3 in.) greased loaf pans. The mixture will be stiff and must be pushed into the corners of the pan with a spoon or spatula. Form it slightly higher on the sides to compensate for the rising crown.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F., allowing the filled pans to rest for 20 minutes.

Bake in the oven until the loaves are golden brown and they test done when pierced in the center with a metal skewer or wooden toothpick, about 1 hour.

Remove the bread from the oven. Carefully take it out of the pan, and cool it on a metal rack. Allow the loaf to sit overnight before slicing.

- Adapted from 'The Complete Book of Breads,'' by Bernard Clayton Jr. (Simon & Schuster)

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