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The Other Fall Fruit

2012 October 9

Apples are, for the most part, the rockstars of fall. Apple picking is right up there with pumpkin selection (and punkin’ chunkin’) as a must-do activity for me every fall, usually at Butler’s Orchard in Maryland. One of the best field trips of my elementary school years was getting hauled out to the Northeast Ohio countryside and freezing our fingers off while learning how a cider press works. Heck, apples were even heavily featured in our wedding!

But with all thate apple glory, pears get a little lost in the shuffle. And that is tragic. So here I am, trying to level the playing field a little and make the case for pears with some must-make fall muffins.

It wasn’t that obvious to me at first, but pears and ginger are made for each other and together, they are fall-tastic. Cinnamon is familiar and all, but it’s already best buddies with apples. Ginger, with its delicate heat and spiciness, brings out the creamy sweetness of pears — fall’s forgotten fruit. When they get together? I want to put on a sweater. I know apple-cinnamon oatmeal is oh so popular, but someone should get on a pear-ginger version, stat. The ground ginger in these muffins offers a subtle warmth and for the big-time ginger fans, you can amp it up by adding a Tablespoon of minced candied ginger to the batter when your fold in the pears.

Pear selection can be just as daunting as apples… which are best for baking? Eating raw? Poaching? A little trial-and-error left me favoring Bosc pears in these muffins, with Bartletts coming in a close second. Whichever pears you choose, ripeness is key. Choose pears that are ripe but not bruised and squishy, yielding to gentle pressure at the stem end when prodded but without leaving a giant thumbprint. Still-crunchy pears won’t taste bad (if you can’t wait and let them ripen a day or two on the counter) but they won’t bake into a lovely, melty pear almost-custard the way very ripe ones will.

Pear and Ginger Streusel Muffins

Muffins are delicate so take care not to overmix the batter. It should be relatively chunky and even a bit dry in spots when it goes in the oven. Resist the temptation to beat it into something like cake batter, lest you end up with dense, heavy muffins with “tunnels” and huge air pockets.

This recipe makes more than enough for two, but it’s still better to end up with six muffins instead of a dozen (or more!). And once you taste them, you’ll be surprised who quickly two people can blow through six muffins (cough,twodays,cough). We like them for breakfast, but they’re also good as dessert, warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Perfect for sharing with friends, neighbors and neighbor-friends.

Makes 6 muffins

Ingredients

for the muffins

5 ounces AP flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2.75 ounces granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons honey

1 large egg

1 large, ripe pear (I like Bosc in these muffins), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice, about 1 heaping cup

1 Tablespoon candied ginger, minced (optional)

for the streusel topping

1/4 cup AP flour

2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons cold butter

Method

for the streusel topping: In a small bowl, or the bowl of a food processor, stir together flour, brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon. Mash in butter with the back of a fork (or pulse 5 or 6 times) until crumbly. Set aside.

for the muffins: Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees, with a rack in the middle position. Line a 6-cup muffin pan with muffin papers*.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar and ground ginger.

In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the sour cream, oil, honey and eggs. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and fold together until just mixed, about 10 to 12 times. Add pears and and candied ginger, if using, and gently fold again to mix, another 4 to 5 times. Do not overmix! You may still see some dry bits in your batter but that is okay. Good, even.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Top each with streusel mixture. Bake for 10 minutes and reduce the heat to 400. Continue to bake until puffy and firm, about another 20 minutes (for a total of 30 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes; serve while still warm.

*For 2 Tip: if you only have a 12-cup muffin pan, don’t fret! Just pour a little bit of water in each of the empty muffin cups to prevent scorching.

One Response leave one →
  1. Gredela permalink
    October 21, 2012

    How many cups are the flour and sugar? I don’t have anything to weigh out ounces and I don’t have any idea of how much 5 ounces of flour is! You show the cup measurement for the streusel – why not for the muffins?

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