autumn apple love: a recipe and a poem

We’ve been enjoying some absolutely gorgeous Autumn weather here in Virginia. The alphabet soup kitchen helpers and I are especially excited about all the different apples available at the farm market.

About 25 varieties are grown here — I commonly see Rome, Winesap, York, Golden Delicious and Red Delicious. I miss the apple tree we had at our old house; I think they were Staymans. Made many an apple pie and crisp with them. Whenever I think about that tree, I also miss our neighbors. During the Spring when it was full of blossoms, dreamy-eyed Derrick would wander over to the tree just to take in the scent, and of course it was always lovely to have a fragrant carpet of petals on the grass.

Over the weekend I was in a cozy muffin mood. Do you ever have those? All I wanted to do was relax with warm muffins and tea and read. Compared to cupcakes, muffins are relatively guilt free, and I love their association with nursery rhymes and songs. Who doesn’t love a small, round bread you can hold in your hands and caress before eating it? Have you ever held a warm muffin against your cheek and made a wish?

I decided to try a new recipe from an old cookbook I’d found at a clearance sale decades ago, The Old-Fashioned Cookbook by Jan McBride Carlton (Weathervane Books, 1975). It contains 700 easy-to-make traditional American recipes with spot illustrations by Alice and Martin Provensen.



Spicy Apple Muffins call for a cup of chopped apple and pumpkin pie spice in addition to the standard flour, sugar, baking powder, eggs, milk and butter. With only 1/4 cup of sugar, these are less sweet than store-bought muffins and are perfect with butter, your favorite jam, or that beloved Fall favorite, apple butter. Yum!


(makes 10-12)

2 cups sifted flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped raw apple

Sift first 5 ingredients together into bowl. Combine remaining ingredients. Add all at once to dry ingredients and stir only enough to moisten dry ingredients (do not overmix). Fold chopped apple into batter.

Fill greased muffin pans two-thirds full. Bake in hot oven (400 degrees F) for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Tips: Check for doneness at 18 minutes. As with other muffin recipes, it’s crucial not to beat the batter or overmix, since the muffins will be tough rather than have a nice tender crumb. Don’t be afraid to add a little extra cinnamon or freshly ground nutmeg. Channeling the Muffin Man at Drury Lane while mixing will add a decidedly nostalgic flavor to the batch. ♥


While your muffins are baking, pour yourself a nice cup of tea and enjoy this poem:


by Joyce Sutphen

The kitchen is sweet with the smell of apples,
big yellow pie apples, light in the hand,
their skins freckled, the stems knobby
and thick with bark, as if the tree
could not bear to let the apple go.
Baskets of apples circle the back door,
fill the porch, cover the kitchen table.

My mother and my grandmother are
running the apple brigade. My mother,
always better with machines, is standing
at the apple peeler; my grandmother,
more at home with a paring knife,
faces her across the breadboard.
My mother takes an apple in her hand,

She pushes it neatly onto the sharp
prong and turns the handle that turns
the apple that swivels the blade pressed
tight against the apple’s side and peels
the skin away in long curling strips that
twist and fall to a bucket on the floor.
The apples, coming off the peeler,

Are winding staircases, little accordions,
slinky toys, jack-in-the-box fruit, until
my grandmother’s paring knife goes slicing
through the rings and they become apple
pies, apple cakes, apple crisp. Soon
they will be married to butter and live with
cinnamon and sugar, happily ever after.

“Apple Season” by Joyce Sutphen, from Coming Back to the Body. © Holy Cow! Press, 2000.


Have a beautiful day and don’t forget to smile ☺!

♥ Related posts: Apple Picture Books, More Apple Picture Books.


Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

24 thoughts on “autumn apple love: a recipe and a poem

  1. Ooh! Just copied down the recipe! Do you think Granny Smith apples would work well? I just picked a bunch from our apple tree! This recipe sounds delicious! Thanks, as always, for sharing! xoxo


    1. Yes, Grannies would work! Sweeter apples = sweeter muffins. Grannies tend towards the tart, so you might add a tad more sugar if you like since the muffin isn’t sweet to begin with.


      1. Love the photo of the toy soldier about to prod that hapless muffin with his bayonet… or is he about to carve it into pieces to share with the rest of his plastic platoon?

        When fall arrives, and great local apples start showing up in the stores, I inevitably think back to when I was a kid, and my parents would drive up to Bennington, Vermont, where we would all pick apples, my two older brothers and my younger sister as well as both parents. The goal was to fill a bushel basket or two, but we always stuffed some of those apples — Mcintosh, as I recall — into our pockets while climbing in the apple trees, and ate them on the drive home.

        Those are still the best apples I have ever had in my life.

        Do you have a favorite type, Jama? Right now I am leaning towards Macouns. — PL


      2. Peter,

        I’ve never had Macouns! Don’t ever recall even seeing them around here, either at farm markets or at the grocery store. Len loves McIntosh — they’re by far his favorite. He bemoans the fact that the season for good ones is short.

        I don’t think I have a favorite, though for eating out of hand I prefer sweeter varieties, like Red Delicious. For baking it’s interesting to mix varieties to get different flavor notes. 🙂


  2. If anyone is going to have a “happily ever after,” it’s them.

    I like the soldier guarding the muffin…


    1. Nothing like the aroma of apples cooking with cinnamon, butter and sugar!! :9

      We have several little green army men securing various items in the kitchen just in case :).


  3. Ooh, I think a nice pear muffin would be quite nice just now as well.
    I should order in some apples by the box from a nearby farm here, and sauce them, but the Bramleys are apparently better after the first light frost, so I’ll wait another night or two – it got down to thirty-six last night, so it’s trying to get there.

    This has been the warmest October on record already, but that’s about over!


    1. Thirty six already? I’m not ready for that.

      Haven’t had any Bramleys before. Mmmm, homemade applesauce. Do you hire yourself out? 🙂


  4. I haven’t baked for the longest time but your posts are inspiring me to revisit that ‘past life.’ Between apple pies and apple muffins though, I prefer the former hands down but the crust, I am sure, would be difficult to make.

    Here are my favorite lines from the poem:
    “The apples, coming off the peeler,

    Are winding staircases, little accordions,
    slinky toys, jack-in-the-box fruit, until
    my grandmother’s paring knife goes slicing
    through the rings and they become apple
    pies, apple cakes, apple crisp. Soon
    they will be married to butter and live with
    cinnamon and sugar, happily ever after.”

    Yum. I can taste the crisp apples married to cinnamon and nutmeg right now. 🙂


    1. Yep, crusts are tricky, but when done well, sooooooo good. There’s this place that’s known for their pies about an hour from home. Am tempted to drive over for their apple pie, which is their best seller.


  5. “married to butter and live with
    cinnamon and sugar, happily ever after.”

    Ahh, the perfect fairy tale! And I can feel a pan of apple crisp coming on. We missed getting to the orchard that grows Arkansas Blacks last week by 30 minutes. This week we WILL get there! I MUST have my yearly dose of my favorite apples!


    1. I’m learning about so many new varieties. Arkansas Blacks — never heard of them, don’t think they’re grown here. Enjoy your apple picking and apple crisp!


  6. I took a detour to facebook and now find that my spheresisters Myra and Mary Lee have beaten me to love, love, loving apples “married to butter” and living happily ever after.

    We have a day off school today and making caressable, wishable muffins has now become a priority! Tell Len I’m for MacIntoshes, too!


    1. Oh yes, married to butter — I’m sure Julia Child is smiling at that too. I must do a study of personality types who prefer McIntoshes . . .


  7. um… yum!

    i live in a house where my girls do not like their apples cooked. it makes me sad. pressed, buttered, yes, but in a pastry, no.

    i will come back often to gaze and reflect and occasionally drool.


    1. you have my deepest sympathies, david. no apple pie, turnovers, crisp or crumble? sigh sigh. the aroma alone of apples baking makes me happy . . .


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