After nutmeg (can’t deny those Greek roots) my favourite fall spice is cardamom. I love its floral, peppery notes and how it brightens pretty much anything it touches; whether in the dozens of kardemummabullar (cardamom buns) we mainlined for Fika whilst traveling around Sweden, or stirred into some warmed pressed cider, or as a hidden note in tomato-based dishes, cardamom is equal parts magical and underrated.
Come fall, Austin and I sometimes trade our savoury breakfasts for something hearty and a bit sweet–most often slow-cooked oats, but we also like to keep on hand gently-sweet and breakfast-appropriate muffins for when the mood strikes. This becomes obvious if you know my kitchen and its parade of wholesome parcels: plum with oatmeal streusel muffins, apple-cranberry-pumpkin muffins, mom’s famous bran muffins, and my absolute favourite, winter harvest muffins.
Despite these muffin riches, our breakfast counter was missing one that highlighted three of my favourite flavours: apple, cardamom and maple, so I set out to develop a recipe. After a bit of refinement, it’s just right: a 100% whole-wheat breakfast muffin with a burnished top, gently sweetened with dark maple syrup and pressed apple cider, chockfull of tart Ontario apples and made bright and warm with cardamom and other fall spices.
It still feels like summer in these nascent days of Toronto autumn, but our kitchen is ready for the season, with muffins.
Whole Wheat Cardamom Maple Apple Cider Muffins
These are muffins in the truest sense, versus little cakes masquerading as breakfast food. Made without refined sugar and with 100% whole wheat flour, they provide a healthy hit of sustained energy minus the sugar crash. We’ve been cracking them open warm, slathered with salted butter, the cardamom enhanced by mugs of hot black coffee.
Makes one-dozen midsize muffins
- 1-2/3 cups whole wheat flour
- pinch fine sea salt
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground clove
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg, rasped
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup dark maple syrup
- 4 Tbsp butter, melted
- 1-1/4 cups pressed apple cider
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- optional: demerara sugar, for dusting
For the apples
- 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1 cm cubes
- gentle dusting of cardamom, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg (same spices used above)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with parchment or liners, if desired.
In a bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
In a large bowl, combine the egg, maple syrup, butter, cider and vanilla extract.
Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Fold in the apples, reserving a large handful for the muffin tops.
Fill each cup 3/4 full. Top each with a few pieces of apple and sprinkle with demarara sugar (if desired). Bake for approximately 18 minutes on middle rack, until muffin centres spring back to the touch, and muffin tops are burnished.
Cool on a wire rack. Serve immediately or wrap in saran and foil for lunches or to freeze for later snacking.