An apple is sometimes an excellent thing

I’ll be honest and say I have a love/hate relationship with apples. On one hand, nothing beats the crunch of a really good apple, both tart and sweet at the same time. On the other, nothing is worse than a bland Golden Delicious or some other tasteless variety. Apples are perfect in a crumble, where the soft, cooked fruit pair with the crisp topping, or in an apple cake for an autumn morning tea, but a poorly made apple sauce can be overly tart or insipid. Maybe like the pear, the apple is also a tricky fruit to get just right.

Anyway, apples are very much on my mind at the moment. I am reading Ruth Reichl’s memoir Comfort Me With Apples, it is autumn and we are in apple season and I have a large bowl sitting in the kitchen crying out to be eaten, cooked and enjoyed. On Saturday morning, seeking inspiration, I had a look in Ottolenghi’s The Cookbook, and found some carrot apple and pecan muffins. With the ingredients to hand, I made a large batch that has lasted us most of the week. The recipe included a sort of seed and oat crumble topping, which I didn’t make because…well to be frank I wanted to make sure I made it to my 10:30am Zoom Pilates class and I was short of time.

A book and a muffin

Preheat the oven to 170C and prepare your muffin tray – I never use paper cases personally, so this part is up to your preference. Sift together 300g plain flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons cinnamon (I used half cinnamon half cardamom) and a good pinch of salt. Put to one side and in a large bowl, whisk together 4 eggs, 160ml sunflower oil (I used rice bran as that is what I tend to have). 280g caster sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla essence, 220g of peeled and grated carrot and 200g of apples which have been roughly chopped. Gently fold in 100g of roughly chopped pecan nuts (I think walnuts would be a good substitute), 100g sultanas and 50g of coconut flakes. Then equally gently fold in the flour, trying not to over mix. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tin and bake for about 25 minutes.

Carrot, apple and pecan

This quantity made 12 muffins and there was some left over that I poured into a loaf tin and which actually came out fine. Let them cool in the tin a bit before removing to cool completely.

Muffins for morning or afternoon tea

The result – a very tasty muffin, quite light, and with lovely chunks of apple, raisins and coconut. I don’t think it needed any topping, which would also have made them more sweet, but I might try that if I make them again.

A muffin, prior to being consumed

I found that these kept well, and even enjoyed one on Tuesday with my mid-morning cup of tea, while the rain poured down outside. Perfect autumnal eating, and made me appreciate the apple again. Comfort with apples indeed.

Muffin being consumed

Title of the post is an adaptation of the quote “an apple is an excellent thing…until you have tried a peace” from George du Maurier’s Trilby.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram@thistleandkiwis.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on


  1. I’m a such a huge fan of apples that I am tolerant of even the “lesser” ones. All right, maybe not red delicious. One has to draw the line somewhere. I think my love of apples comes from the realities of growing up in a cold northern state in the 1960s. There just wasn’t much available back then and apples were our go-to fruit. Still are in this house. Anyway, years ago, I read Comfort Me with Apples and liked it very much. Your muffins look fabulous. Oh, yum!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, yes! How lucky you are to live in the land of wonderful apples. Other fruit, too, I bet. Plus you have an awesome prime minister. And a beautiful country. Can’t help but be more than a little envious.


  2. yum that muffin recipe sounds lovely, my favourite apple is a crisp one, can’t remember the name of it though.


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