Apple Cheddar Muffins

October 16, 2014

Each Thursday, Emily Vikre (a.k.a. fiveandspice) will be sharing a new way to love breakfast -- because breakfast isn't just the most important meal of the day. It's also the most awesome.

Today: A sweet-savory muffin that channels the bright blue sky, crisp air, and crunching leaves of fall.

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First, can we start by agreeing that the very best thing to do in October is to jump into a giant crunchy pile of blazing orange leaves, then sit under a tree with an apple and a hunk of cheddar and a small, sturdy knife and eat slices of apple and cheese while staring at the electric blue sky?  

Sometimes, however, you’re missing one of the requisite pieces for that scenario, whether it’s the leaf pile or the apple or the blue sky. In which case, your best option -- obviously -- is to try to recreate the feeling of that scene in a muffin. Right? Right.

There’s something quite satisfying about muffin-izing the season. Olive oil marmalade muffins for winter, rhubarb almond for spring, peach and streusel for summer…and for fall, apple and cheddar. Unless you prefer pumpkin. But for the sake of this argument today, let us settle on apple and cheddar.

More: Celebrate the season with another classic fruit and cheese combo: pear and blue cheese.

These muffins capture the lovely interplay of apple and cheddar -- the sharp, funky ping of the cheese against the sweet thrum of the fruit -- and wrap it up in a gently spiced crumb. There are some muffins that are cupcakes masquerading as muffins (and there is nothing at all wrong with that) and then there are the heartier, less sweet variety of muffins. These fall into the latter category, as a muffin that epitomizes fall -- and contains cheese -- really ought. As such, they are equally delightful with your coffee in the morning or your tea in the afternoon as they are alongside soup. But I like starting the day with them.

Apple Cheddar Muffins

Makes a dozen good-sized muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup barley flour (or more all-purpose if you don't have barley; whole-wheat would also work)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar, or in small cubes if you prefer pockets of cheese as opposed to threads throughout
2 cups grated apples, preferably of a nice fallish sweet-tart variety (I don't bother peeling them or anything)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons oil (I used olive oil)
1/4 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Emily Vikre

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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.


Rachel C. November 11, 2014
Just made these for the second time, and subbed half of the apples with fresh cranberries -- adds another lovely burst of flavor.
Megan T. October 29, 2014
Can you substitute sour cream for the greek yogurt?
fiveandspice October 29, 2014
Yes, you should be able to.
janet V. October 23, 2014
I've craved apples and cheddar ever since I had Cheddar Topped Apple Pie with Cinnamon Sauce at a Walgreens (yes, Walgreens) counter in the suburbs of Chicago. Nobody get it. Perhaps these muffins will win them over.
Marissa E. October 22, 2014
Immediately thought of how wonderful this might be with smoked gouda "cheese pockets" throughout (or even some buffalo cheddar)! Saving and pinning this!
Midge October 17, 2014
Oh yum! I so miss blazing orange leaves but at least I can make these.
Cynthia C. October 16, 2014
AntoniaJames October 16, 2014
Oh, yeah. Seriously. Definitely giving these a ride, soon. ;o)