It took moving to New York and indulging in frequent farmer’s market purchases for me to discover what has to be one the best fall treats in the Northeast: the apple cider donut. When you start to see the bounty of apples available in September and envision the numerous apple dessert recipes you’ll somehow squeeze into the next 2 months, you’re momentarily sidetracked by these cake donuts with their hint of tartness, residing inside the glass cases next to the produce. If you wait too long to make the decision to indulge, they will sell out–they always do!

Not familiar with the apple cider donut? The Washington Post has a great article on them from a few years back and includes a recipe that hails from a pastry chef at Hearth, a revered restaurant in the East Village that I’m saving up my pennies for.

If your cooking skills and waistline are up to the task, make some apple cider donuts. As a side note, while “cake donut” seems to imply a healthier alternative to Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ donuts, this isn’t really so; apple cider donuts contain buttermilk and shortening, and are still deep-fried the same way regular donuts are. I’m all for splurging, but donuts are more of a treat in my mind, and not a daily or even weekly treat at that.

But muffins? Homemade muffins are most definitely on my breakfast menu at home, almost every week. For that reason, I decided to come up with an apple cider muffin recipe so that autumn indulging in the morning isn’t restricted to the Cinnamon Mini-Wheats I spotted at the supermarket.

Apple Cider Muffins

1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 tbsp flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 tbsp butter

1 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup vegetable oil

To make the streusel, mix together the brown sugar, flour and spices in a small bowl. Cut in the butter (or pulse in a food processor) until it resembles course crumbs. (I will admit, I used to make streusel just to eat, when I didn’t feel like going to the trouble of baking an entire dessert and because I almost always have the ingredients on hand).

Onto the muffins! Preheat the oven to 400. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, nutmeg, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, mix together the egg, apple cider and oil. Add the contents of this small bowl to the flour mixture and mix just until combined.

Prepare your muffin tins by either greasing them or using paper cups. Because I like my muffins to be tall, I always fill only 11 when a recipe could technically make the typical dozen. This is optional! Fill each muffin cup halfway with batter and then spoon about a teaspoon of the streusel on top. Fill muffin cups with the rest of batter until a 1/4 inch away from the top of tin. Sprinkle the streusel evenly on the tops.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown and puffed out. Remove from muffin tin and allow to cool.