my new go-to autumn recipe: amy traverso’s apple pumpkin walnut muffins

Apples pumpkins pudding and pie.
Love you, pumpkin, apple of my eye.

I’m sitting here looking out my office window, sunlight glimmering through gold and russet leaves, with a mug of warm apple cider and a fresh-from-the-oven Apple Pumpkin Walnut Muffin. I finally treated myself to a copy of Amy Traverso’s, The Apple Lovers Cookbook (W.W. Norton & Co., 2011). I’d been hearing such great things about it ever since it was released last year and decided it would be a nice way to celebrate my favorite season.

These muffins seemed like the perfect first recipe for me to try — apples and pumpkins represent the essence of Fall, after all. (I just made a rhyme, did you see that?) Though I’ve baked quite a few pumpkin pies and any number of apple desserts (pies, crumbles, crisps, muffins, cakes), I’d never actually combined pumpkin and apple in the same recipe before. What could be cozier than having Autumn all wrapped up in one cozy, take-it-anywhere muffin?

Just in case you’re not familiar with Amy’s book, it’s easily the most comprehensive, accessible apple companion out there. Not only do you get 100 original recipes, but also a fabulous Apple Primer with in-depth profiles of 59 apple varieties — notes on appearance, taste, texture, as well as history, availability, and best use. The varieties are classified as firm-tart, firm-sweet, tender-tart and tender-sweet, and a cool Cheat Sheet allows you to determine which varieties would be best for each recipe.

Apple, Pistachio, Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad
Vermont Apple Cider Doughnuts

Other things I love about this book:

  • Clean, fresh uncluttered format with color photos of most recipes
  • Gorgeous apple profile photos remind you just how much beauty is contained in each single, unadorned, blushing orb
  • Articles about apple genetics, cider-makers, and orchards
  • Tips and Techniques for peeling, coring, slicing, and dicing, and for making pie crust
  • Tools of the Trade
  • Lists of apple festivals, products and pairings
  • Ingredients listed in U.S. Standard measurements and their metric equivalents
  • Though it contains great veggie, sides, salads, poultry, meat, fish, soup and starter recipes — there are three (!) yummy chapters especially for baking/dessert lovers (pancakes, donuts, biscuits, breads, pies, crisps, cobblers, buckles, betties, dumplings, cakes, puddings)
  • The 303-page book lies flat when you open to any page!


The Apple Pumpkin Walnut Muffin recipe calls for one large firm-sweet apple. A quick glance at the Cheat Sheet assured me Golden Delicious would work (I just happened to have a giant one in the fridge).

After peeling and coring my apple, I diced it into 1/4″ cubes. I tossed walnuts into my mini food processor for a nice chop, then whisked together dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another. I then stirred the wet ingredients into the dry, being careful not to overmix the batter.



Was really pleased with the results — the cinnamon, ginger and cloves enhance the natural flavors of the fresh apple and pumpkin, the muffins aren’t overly sweet, and they’re soooo tender and moist! Nothing says Fall like those warming spices, and the chopped apple and walnuts add wonderful texture. Will definitely be making these again. In fact, I plan to bake these muffins to celebrate Fall every year. Yum!

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(makes 15 muffins)

1-2/3 (242 g) cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (105 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (115 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (240 ml) canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (120 ml) walnut oil or vegetable oil
1 large firm-sweet apple (about 8 ounces), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3/4 cup (65 g) walnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
15 walnut halves for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line the muffin cups with paper liners or grease with butter. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, and cloves. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, apple, chopped walnuts, and vanilla.

2. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine (do not overmix). Divide the batter among 15 muffin cups, filling each about three-quarters full, and top each with a walnut half if desired. Bake until the muffins are puffed and golden and a cake tester comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let the muffins cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then serve warm.

Make-Ahead Tip: You can prep this recipe through step 1 the night before, then finish it in the morning. You can also freeze the finished muffins in a zip-top bag for up to two months.

*Adapted from The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Amy Traverso (W.W. Norton & Co., 2011), p. 173.

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Other recipes I’m most anxious to try:

  • Apple and Mustard Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  • Pan-Seared Salmon with Cider-Glazed Onions
  • Apple-Studded Brown Butter Streusel Coffee Cake
  • Grandma’s Apple Crisp
  • Lowfat Gingerbread Applesauce Cake
  • Pumpkin and Apple Custard
  • Sweet Potato-Apple Latkes

Amy Traverso is the Senior Home and Food Editor of Yankee Magazine. What a beautiful job she’s done with The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, winner of the 2012 IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) Award for best American cookbook!

Chances are, apples have a place in your own food memories. I can’t think of another fruit that comes as close to the heart of the American table. We save an apple for the teacher. We eat an apple a day. We are “as American as apple pie” (an ironic statement, if you think about it, given that apple pie really is very British), and we call our greatest city the Big Apple. Some combination of those phrases and a thousand servings of apple cider donuts and mulled cider, combined with my New England roots or your Virginia or Sonoma or Yakima Valley childhood, and all those rounds of the Johnny Appleseed song (“Oh, the Lord is good to me . . . “), all add up to such strong associations with apples and America that I half expected to hear that the Pilgrims found rows of Baldwin and McIntosh when they first stepped ashore at Plymouth.

~ Amy Traverso (“Why An Apple Book”)

Enjoy these videos: Amy shows us an easy way to peel and core an apple, and demonstrates how to make Apple and Mustard Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

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Oh! Just saw two deer amble by. I think they’re the fawns I saw this summer, now playful adolescents. They’ve found some acorns. Imagine being able to scratch your neck with your hind leg, or flick falling leaves away with your big ears.

Must have another muffin. Thinking of you as I bite into it :).

♥ Visit The Apple Lover’s Cookbook website for more recipes and info about how to order a signed copy. Wonderful holiday gift for the foodies on your list!

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This post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts (fiction/nonfiction/cookbook/movie reviews, recipes, photos, musings, etc.). Put on your bib and join the party!


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

52 thoughts on “my new go-to autumn recipe: amy traverso’s apple pumpkin walnut muffins

  1. Guess I might put this on my Christmas wish list, Jama. As I’ve told you before, I do love apples. There is nothing nicer than making homemade applesauce-smells so good! The book looks great, including those apple-mustard grilled cheese sandwiches, which I also love! Yum, yum!


    1. After you get this book, it’ll be the only apple cookbook you’ll ever need. It’s one of those classics that you’ll return to again and again :).


    2. btw…if you like homemade applesauce, you should try making pear sauce! My kids likeit even better than appesauce because the flavour is a bit more delicate. (toss in a wee bit of ginger, and it really brings it to life!)


  2. Oh, wish I was there. Muffins, deer, you. Did you use the walnut or canola oil? I’ve never cooked with walnut, which sounds like it might be good — or overpowering? Yankee magazine comes out with some great things.


    1. Didn’t have any walnut oil. Amy does include a note about it — she says it’s a nice subtle flavor, not overpowering or anything. I should get some and use it next time.

      Yes, we love our deer! Would be so fab to have you here sipping cider and munching on muffins with me :). . .


  3. The muffins look & sound delicious! Indeed, pumpkins & apples are great comnpanions, actually. When I was working at a local restaurant several years ago, we had leftover pumpkin pie filling and apple cider from our Thanksgiving Dinner, so we turned them into a curried pumpkin-apple bisque, which was out of this world! (In fact, pumpkin pies were originally simply hollowed-out pumpkins filled with apples & spices) Thanks for sharing – I’ll need to whip some of these up this weekend!


  4. The serpent should have waived one of those muffins in front of Adam and he would have caved immediately! Eve always get the bad rap, but those pommes are gorgeous and the recipes amazing!

    Note bene – I am tempted and there is not one ounce of chocolate mentioned!


    1. Give in to your temptation! Apples and pumpkins are healthy :).

      Just read somewhere that it probably wasn’t an apple with Eve, more like a fig or something . . .


  5. Oh, Jama, you are definitely a true temptress when it comes to describing books. Living in apple country I definitely need this book. The recipes look divine. I can smell those muffins cooking already. The deer are on the move here too. I’ve had several cross my path walking in our subdivision.


    1. Lucky you to live in apple country! It’s always interesting to compare notes about what varieties are available in different areas. Red and golden delicious, as well as granny smiths and McIntosh seem to be ubiquitous. Envious of those who boast macouns or pink ladies . . .


  6. My Mom made an awesome crab apple pie, but when we moved, we left our crab apple tree behind. *sniffle* I miss it already, when I could be having a piece of pie… 😦 I showed my Dad the apple peeling video because he is known in our family for his apple cutting skills. We have to get this book!!!!!


    1. I’ve never had a crab apple pie. You need to convince your mom to bake another pie using other kinds of apples. It’s nice to mix a couple of different varieties in the same pie for different bursts of flavor 🙂 . . .


  7. How did I miss this cookbook? I love apples and am blessed to live in apple country with several family fruit farms that sell an wonderful variety of apples. Love the cheat sheet, love the tips, love the photos. And apple muffins? I could even pretend they were healthful. 🙂


  8. I prefer my apples cooked so this is probably a good cookbook for me and the muffins sound divine with all my favorite spices. Thanks for sharing and for the tempting photos.


  9. Hi there, there is a new collection of book links going down at Carole’s Chatter. This time we are collecting links to posts about your very most favourite cookbooks. Here is the link Your Favourite Cook Books Please do pop by and link in – maybe this nice one? Have a lovely day.


  10. Just made up a batch of the muffins yesterday – except instead of nuts, I subbed dried cranberries then added 2 grated carrots (also added an extra 1/2 t. of soda for an extra boost) – and they were FANTASTIC!


    1. Wow, you ARE a Muffin Man! Your additions remind me of Morning Glory Muffins. I love the flexibility of most muffin recipes — you’re only limited by your imagination, often guided by ingredients at hand. I’ll have to try adding carrots next time :).


  11. Thanks for linking in to Food on Friday: Christmas. We are now getting a great collection of Christmas ideas.
    I am now signed up to follow you on Google Reader. A follow back to Carole’s Chatter would be wonderful – or are you already following? Cheers


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