Trifecta Complete: Terran Pie!

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I had to finish the trifecta, of course. Terran Pie!

Appropriately earthy, so I think the Terrans would approve. AND delicious, so I approve – I love rhubarb, and it pairs so well with apples.

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My pie crust game is going strong over here! It feels great to be able to make pie and not sweat the crust. Besides, it’s June now (how did that happen?!) which is summer and official pie season. Though I will say there will be a pie break over here for the time being, time to do new things!

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In other news… I saw the Mountain Play this weekend! So fun: a round-trip 8+ mile hike with ~1750 of elevation gain to get to the amphitheater –  I definitely earned my pie! (besides that, we did all the uphill on the hike in – 4.2 miles essentially all uphill in 1.5 hours. BEAST MODE. No big deal) The Mountain Play was awesome – great show, great weather, and lovely company!

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All things considered, a great weekend. And there was nerdy pie. Which makes it all the better.

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Sometimes… you just need to play with your food:

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Earthy, whole wheat crust filled with tart rhubarb and granny smith apples – the tart-pie lover’s dream. I haven’t had an apple pie in ages so this was a welcome change. The lemon shines through too, adding brightness that balances out the sweetness of the maple. Barely sweet, mostly tart – this pie is for those who love their fruit.

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Happy Monday!

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Rhubarb Apple Pie on Whole Wheat Crust

A Wait are Those Cookies original! Whole wheat and refined sugar free. Tart, for those who don’t shy away from a little tart in their desserts – the rhubarb and the apple play so nicely off each other, and the maple adds just enough sweetness without diminishing the flavor of the fruit. Yield: 1 deep 9″ pie. Serves: 2… I kid. Sort of.

For the pie crust:

  • 2.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • scant 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 c unsalted butter
  • 1/3 c vegetable shortening
  • 5-6 tbsp ice water

For the filling:

  • 4 c chopped rhubarb*
  • 2 granny smith apples, chopped
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • zest and juice of 2 meyer lemons
  • 1/3 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt

*I baked straight from frozen; fresh would also be fine

For finishing: 1-2 tbsp butter, 1 egg for egg wash

To make the crust: in a large bowl, whisk together pastry flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening and butter either with your fingers or a pastry cutter until a coarse mixture forms and the butter chunks are the size of peas. Make a well in the center of the dough and add in the ice water one tablespoon at a time – mix as little as possible when incorporating the water to avoid overworking the dough. Once it will stick together, you’re good to go. Divide it into two even pieces, wrap in plastic wrap or a ziploc and chill for at least 10 minutes or up to overnight. You can also chill the dough for about 5-6 hours or overnight in the ball, then roll it out and chill it, shaped, in the pie dish. I discovered that works quite well – make filling & bake straight from the fridge.

While the dough is chilling, put together the filling. In a large bowl, toss together rhubarb, granny smith apples, maple, lemon juice + zest, whole wheat flour, vanilla, and salt. Let sit for at least 10 minutes — easiest to do this while you roll out the pie dough.

Once the dough is chilled, roll it out between two pieces of parchment or on marble, whatever you have – I like parchment for easy removal. Aim for about 1/8″ thickness, and lay the bottom crust into a pie dish. Shape it with your fingers, evening out the top as per your pie plate or design you want — this crust will make a double crusted pie, so keep that in mind. Toss in filling goodness and dot fruit filling with butter.

If you want to get fancy and get all Terran-pie Starcraft nerdy (you must construct additional pylons!)…

Cut out templates (thick paper or thin cardboard work nicely) for the Terran crest. Have egg wash and coconut sugar handy (I used a beaten egg). Use the templates to cut out the top crust shape, then use a chopstick or a knife to make the surface lines. Brush everything with egg wash to make it stick. Sprinkle coconut sugar where contrast is desired. Once finished, carefully lay top crust over the filling. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then 350 for 35-40 until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown (*note, apples & rhubarb might look a little dry on top, but the pie will be done and delicious, I promise!) Remove from the oven when done and let sit to cool for at least an hour, preferably more so that the filling will set. Serve warm or at room temp, and store any leftovers overnight on the counter, loosely covered, or in the fridge for longer (assuming it lasts that long). Pie can be made a day in advance if needed and reheated briefly in a 375 oven to crisp the crust and warm the filling – 10/15 minutes. The pie filling will firm up if stored in the fridge overnight, making slicing easier. Sometimes I actually prefer to make pie a day ahead, since it reheats in the oven beautifully and the filling sets up so nicely overnight.

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Wait… no citrus?!

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Hold the phone. NOT CITRUS?!

Surely you must be joking.

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Don’t worry, my love affair with all things citrus hasn’t ended, it’s just taking a week off so I can give apples some love. Apples haven’t really featured heavily in my desserts of late, so this is a nice change. Besides, apples, honey and almonds all pair so nicely together.

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This cake is a riff on the honey cake with blackberries & hazelnuts I made back in the fall, and this one once again reminds me of something you’d eat in the Shire – skillet and all, it’s very Tolkeinesque. Which of course appeals to my extraordinarily nerdy nature…

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Besides that, it’s light, delicious and comes together in a snap. I used a combination of apples since I love the tartness of Granny Smith but wanted a more complex flavor – Fujis are in here too.

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Excellent for dessert with some ice cream, and of course for breakfast alongside eggs & kale. Cake for breakfast? Sure, why not – it’s a great source of Vitamin E and healthy fats, plus it’s grain free, gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free so everyone wins.

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Besides cake, a few snaps of what’s been occupying my time lately:

More SF series, of course.

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No filter on this next one — I couldn’t believe how bright it was!

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Enjoy your cake! It tastes best in good company :)

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Apple Honey Cake with Blackberries and Maple Almonds

Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, dairy free, paleo depending on your definition. Light almond honey cake studded with apples and topped with blackberries (mo’ fruit!) and mapled almonds. Yield: 1 8″ skillet cake; serves 2-8. Recipe is a riff on the honey cake with hazelnuts & blackberries, here. Note: I’ve adapted this recipe over time to fit my 8″ cast iron skillet perfectly, hence the odd measurements. Feel free to make this in a 9″ cake pan or skillet, just keep in mind the bake time will be less & you’ll have a slightly shorter cake.

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For the cake:

  • 1.5 c almond flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c honey (I use raw usually) – runny and thick honey are both fine
  • 1/8 + 1/16 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2″ pieces (I used a mix of Fuji & Granny Smith)
  • 1 apple for topping, sliced into 1/4″ thick wedges + 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • Cinnamon for topping

Peel, core and chop 2 apples, and set aside. Lightly grease your skillet or pan of choice with coconut oil and set aside. Preheat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Add in eggs, honey, coconut oil, and vanilla extract, and stir until all ingredients are just incorporated. Stir in 2 chopped apples. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and set aside momentarily. Cut up the last apple, slicing it into 1/4″ wedges and toss it with the tbsp of melted coconut oil. Fan these out across the top (this is totally optional of course), and sprinkle a little cinnamon on them. Bake for 60-65 minutes (if you left the apples off the very top of the cake, your bake time will be slightly less – check at 45), until the top of the cake is lightly browned, firm, and a tester in the center comes out clean. You can cover the cake with foil during the last 15 minutes of baking if the cake is browning too fast. Remove and let cool before topping & serving.

For the maple almonds

  • 1 c slivered almonds
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt

Heat an empty saute pan (not nonstick) over medium heat; once heated, add maple (it will bubble and fizz) and hazelnuts. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously until the maple has caramelized. The nuts will feel a little soft, which is fine. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet, pour out the nuts and spread them out a bit. They will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight jar at room temp for as long as they last which is realistically about five minutes.

For serving: top cake with blackberries and maple almonds! Slice and serve, especially good with vanilla ice cream. Store any leftovers covered, in the fridge for a few days.

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Sometimes, dessert just needs to be an unashamedly sloppy, delicious mess

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This tart is a lesson in what dessert sometimes should be: an aesthetically pleasing, sloppy, delicious mess. Because sometimes dessert should just be eaten out of the pan it was baked or assembled in, with two spoons and happy grins. Or, you could attempt civilized plating (as I did) when you consume it for dessert, with a hasty decant into bowls topped with ice cream. Which is perfectly acceptable. Until the next morning when you peek at the custard tart that’s been hangin’ in the fridge overnight and notice that the custard has decided to attempt an escape outside its proscribed bounds, at which point you decide to eat it out of the pan with spoons. Wise and delicious decision!

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Sometimes, you need a less than perfect dessert. Messy, delicious and less than perfect is exactly what this tart is. You’ve been warned! Indulge accordingly.

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In other news, I completed another year on this earthplane, and celebrated accordingly at Gary Danko! Nowhere else am I going to sit down to a four course dinner with two desserts. Shockingly, I didn’t even need a wheelbarrow to leave…. I consider this a success all around. Thanks to everyone who made my birthday weekend such fun! Y’all are so rad.

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Hmm, what else. It’s officially autumn! Which means apples, scarves, boots, and pumpkin. And baking. Except that the Bay has decided to have a heat wave these last few days, which means baking is totally off the table until it gets back down into the 80s, at least. Since when do I wear a dress and no jacket in San Francisco all evening?! Since never… until yesterday! Reason number one to eat messy, cool, creamy dessert that can be had with minimal baking and heating of the kitchen!

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More drawing! A wee bit of dome practice with the beautiful San Francisco city hall.

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Nighttime cityscapes are so beautiful.

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But back to the food!

This tart presents beautifully but once cut, devolves into a sloppy, delicious mess. But, fear not! Just grab a spoon and eat it straight from the pan. Messy and delicious, just how dessert should be.

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Maple Custard Apple Tart with Almond Crust

Lightly sweet, creamy and an appropriate amount of crust. Refined sugar free, grain free, gluten free, paleo & dairy free with one small swap (coconut oil for butter in the crust). Yield: 1 10″ pie pan of the deep variety; serves as many as you feel like sharing with. Recipe adapted from Hip Foodie Mom, here!

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For the crust:

  • 2.5 c almond flour
  • scant 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 4 tbsp salted butter (or coconut oil), melted
  • 1 runneth-over tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg white

For the custard:

  • 1.5 c coconut milk (mine was light; use whatever you have)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 c tapioca starch
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the apple topping:

  • 2 apples, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp raspberry jam, thinned with a bit of water and lemon juice

Because the custard needs to sit and chill in the fridge after cooling for at least 2 hours, I made this a day ahead and let it hang out in the fridge overnight. The crust only takes about 15 minutes to bake, so the tart itself comes together quite quickly.

Preheat the oven to 400 and lightly grease a 9 or 10″ deep pie plate with coconut oil or butter. For the crust: in a large mixing bowl, stir together almond flour, salt, and coconut sugar. Add in melted butter or coconut oil, vanilla, and egg white, and stir until combined — I found it more fun and more efficient to use my hands at the end. Press the dough into the bottom of your pie plate of choice, poke the bottom a few times with a fork, and bake for 15 minutes. The crust should be lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

For the custard: in a medium saucepan, heat the coconut milk over medium, until small bubbles begin forming along the egg whites. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, maple, tapioca starch, and salt. Slowly temper the eggs by pouring the hot coconut milk into the egg bowl in a thin stream, whisking constantly until all the milk is incorporated. Pour this whole bowl of goodness back into the pot that was previously holding the coconut milk, and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the custard begins bubble and thicken (you’ll know. it’ll go from watery to thick enough that your whisk makes tracks). Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla, and let sit until cool. Give it a good stir, and store in an airtight container in the fridge if you made it ahead.

Pour the custard into the completely cooled crust. Thinly slice 2 apples of choice, and drop them in a bowl of lemon water to prevent browning while slicing. In a small bowl, thin the raspberry jam with a few tbsp of water and lemon juice (I used the leftover from my apple-soaking water). Fan the apple slices across the surface of the custard, brush with the raspberry jam mixture to prevent excess browning. Cover and refrigerate if not eating immediately!

Keeps well overnight in the fridge, covered, but don’t expect it to stay in one piece! The custard is runny — best advice (and I definitely put this into practice) is to just eat it with a spoon, straight out of the pie plate. For breakfast! Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Squashlets, Kale, and Chèvre

I’m slightly behind in bloggingness. AGAIN.

But that’s okay, because I have some pretty freaking amazing stuff to share! Like…

SUPER SQUASH STRIKES AGAIN! Remember all that silly business with the epic mega tons of squash I ate last winter? Welllll, yeah. It’s back. Complete with kale, it’s trusty sidekick. Oh. And goat cheese. Because… REALLY?! You expect me to give you a savory dish without goat cheese??

Psshhh.

Let’s be real. Cheese is where it’s at.

I could probably eat goat cheese all day until the cows came home, and then I would look at the cows and say: “COWS! Why are you here?! I need GOATS for goat cheese, obviously” and then go back to eating my goat cheese. Forever.

This dish is easy and comes together quickly—the only longish part is all the prep work of wrestling the squash and chopping the kale (both of which can be done ahead of time to save on dinner prep when you’re starving). Squash and chèvre complement each other beautifully, and are perfect with kale. Besides all that, you get antioxidants galore from the squash and kale, as well as a ton of other health benefits. AND goat cheese is good for your soul, obviously.

Butternut Squash and Kale Skillet with Goat Cheese

Serves 3, with enough leftovers for 2 dinners and one small lunch. Recipe adapted from Fitness Magazine.

Do yourself a favor and be liberal with the goat cheese, you’ll thank me later!

  • one enormous butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 4.5 c kale, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice (From the lemon you just zested… you see what I did there?)
  • 1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 c dried apples, chopped and soaked in water for a few minutes to soften
  • chicken sausage, casing removed (optional: mine was smoked apple chardonnay)
  • small log of goat cheese, crumbled

In a LARGE (no, really. LARGE) skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add squash, onion, and garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, until squash is lightly browned and tender: about 7 minutes. Add kale, lemon zest and juice,  and salt/pepper to taste. If using sausage, add now. Cook until kale is wilted and squash is fork tender, about 5-7 minutes more. Add in chicken broth and and apples, and simmer for a few minutes before serving, so everything is heated through. Serve immediately, and top with goat cheese! (liberally, of course)

awkward shadow…

I’m hippie-granola…and apples are pretty freaking awesome.

I told you I was hippie-granola.

I wear leg warmers… and birkenstocks. Sometimes together… possibly more often than I care to admit.

My traveling attire when I went to Oregon was truly something spectacular… the usual leg warmers… and my yoga mat! Wow. People in the airport were REAL jealous, let me tell you.

Not my fault I was raised on tofu and bananas and other sorts of natural-type foods like peanut butter that separates (that no stir stuff has always creeped me out). Born in Berkeley, what can I say. Admit it, it’s part of my charm.

And look… I made granolaaaa!!! Like, real granola. Not like my type of hippie crunchy granola. I figured it would be easy and more cost effective to make my own, not to mention healthier, as I know exactly what goes in it. Not that we eat really sketchy granola, as a rule: Nature’s Path is pretty non sketch and delicious. But still. I wanted to try my hand at making some anyway… and I’m pretty sure it was a success.

Besides, this granola is full o’ the good stuff… like healthy fats from the pepitas and the flaxseed (can you say omegaaaasss!), whole grains (oats), and blood sugar stabilization from cinnamon. Apples are pretty freaking awesome too, since they provide soluble fiber (mostly in the form of pectin) for happy digestion and lower cholesterol levels, AND antioxidants…not to mention vitamin C! I love me some anti-free radial activity. Soooo, basically apples are awesome. You know what they say, about apples and doctors? Yeah. Pretty much true. Or maybe you should just eat some granola instead, nudge nudge wink wink…!

Apple-Cinnamon Granola

The recipe is slightly modified from Sally’s Baking Addiction, here! It made three jars worth of granola (as some of you are aware, I ADORE jars and store nearly everything in them)… which probably amounts to about 3 cups, ish? The recipe comes together quickly, bakes in half an hour, and is great snacking/breakfast/yogurt topping option. Gotta love granola and it’s ridiculous versatility!

  • 2.5 c rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 3/4 c ground flaxseed
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • heaping 1/4 c raw pepitas
  • 1 c dried apples*, diced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 c maple syrup

*preferably use dried apples that are just that: apples that have been dried! None of those icky sulphites or sugars. Ew. None of that.

Preheat the oven to 300, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a largish bowl, mix together oats, flaxseed, cinnamon, pepitas, and diced apples. In a smaller bowl, whisk together salt, applesauce, and maple. Pour the wet over the dry and stir to combine, making sure that the wet ingredients are evenly distributed. Spread the mix onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring slightly at the 15 minute mark. Let cool for at least a half an hour on the stove top (you wouldn’t want soggy granola, would you?!). Store in jars!!

The Return of Muffinhenge

Muffinhenge is making a comeback! Would this be the Muffin Revival? Or Neo-Muffin architecture?

Brace yourselves.

A baked good that is NOT a cookie?!

Weird, I know. But just roll with it… there will be more cookies coming soon, I’m sure, at the rate I’m consuming them! Having cookies around is just SO civilized. But I decided that there had been a depressing lack of muffins around here lately, which translated into a severe lack of portable snacks. And portable snacks are a hot commodity in this apartment, between Kira’s and my work/class schedules. Girls must have easily portable and tasty snacks! Besides, last semester I got really attached to muffins. And thesising requires copious amounts of brain pushups, which translates into LOTS OF CARBS! Gotta keep those brain cells happy and firing, and for that we need carbs. Since glucose is the primary source of energy for brain neurons, whole grain carbs are a necessary part of a healthy diet (just say no to Atkins!). Helloooo, muffins, you adorable source of brain energy!

uh-oh... one got away!

And really, muffins are just another excuse for me to consume more peanut butter. Which, by the way, I am packing away at a truly impressive rate of consumption. One jar. PER WEEK. The bag of glass recycling can prove it: there are two empty jars in there, and I’ve been back for two weeks. I’m also steadily on course with the jar in the fridge… have no fear, I’m sure it will join its companions by the time Sunday rolls around…

In other news, I’m also on a quinoa kick. One of these days, quinoa and peanut butter are going to become happily married. In my stomach! My quinoa dinners the last two nights have been deeeelicious, but I’ve been too hungry/lazy to photograph them, so you’ll just have to wait a bit for that! It’ll come, I promise. For now, content yourselves with these muffins: Full of whole grain goodness (raw wheat germ and whole wheat flour) and apples, with no added sugar!

that little stray crumb is just asking to be eaten...

Apple Wheat Germ Muffins

Adapted from Bright Eyed Baker, here! Original makes 12, but I only made 6, so I’ll post my measurements. Double if desired!

The original recipe calls for wheat bran, but I don’t usually have that around. What I do have (and LOVE) is raw wheat germ. It substitutes perfectly into a muffin for bran, and results in a slightly lighter, less dense muffin. Love love love! Use what you have, though—either is fine!

Rummage around in your pantry for the following:

  • 1/2 c plain yogurt (mine happened to be nonfat, whatever you have is fine!)
  • 3/4 c raw wheat germ (I’m sure toasted is fine as well)
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 a large or 1 smallish whole apple, depending on apple-y density preferences, cut into chunks
  • small handful of choc chippies, for sprinkling (life is better with texture)

Preheat the oven to 375, and lightly grease your muffin tin.

In a small bowl, combine wheat germ and yogurt, and let sit while you do the other stuff. In a larger bowl, mash the banana, then whisk in egg and vanilla. Keep whisking until smoothly combined. Add wheat germ mix to this bowl, and stir to combine. In yet another bowl, sift dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir until just combined (try not to overstir: no one likes tough muffins!). Fold in apple chunks and chocolate chippies.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Mine were done at closer to 20, if you have a convection oven, I’d check at 15. A tester should come out clean, and they’ll be nicely golden brown. Let cool (or not) on a wire rack.

Enjoy with a large smear of peanut butter, whilst thesising away regarding Neo-Gothic architecture on a grand vertical scale….and be smug in the feeding of your brain, which will allow you to produce a thesis of epic magnitude. Neuron food, for the win!

look at that up-close and personal apple-y goodness!