June 4, 2014

Peach Pecan Muffins

After spending the weekend in Chicago for the national academic team tournament, I'm back in the south. The lowcountry, to be exact. Hilton Head has been an annual vacation for as long as I can remember, and the contrast between Chicago and the beach has made me appreciate the south. Not that Chicago wasn't nice; I absolutely loved it and I had some amazing food (I'll be updating the travel guide soon), but there's nothing like the slow peacefulness of Hilton Head. Minus the hyperactive screaming children, of course. So to celebrate, I decided to cram everything southern into one dish, and what resulted were these muffins.

Muffins typically have some combination of butter and a moistening agent, like sour cream. These, however, could use a southern kick, so I used a combination of oil and buttermilk instead. Theoretically, you could use regular milk instead (anything but skim, but preferably whole milk), but the buttermilk keeps it just a bit more moist. Furthermore, the buttermilk's natural acidity improves the texture. Although muffins generally aren't extremely sweet, I use a decent amount of sugar. We are celebrating the south, after all, and southern cooking is notoriously heavy on sinful ingredients like sugar, fat, etc. Anyway, I use a 50-50 mixture of regular sugar and brown sugar. The brown sugar adds a hint of caramel flavor, which goes perfectly with the peaches.

The rest of the muffin base is pretty typical. You need your eggs, flour, leavening, a pinch of salt, and some vanilla. I also add a sprinkle of cinnamon for a little extra flavor, since it seems like no breakfast would be complete without it. As for the mix ins, I use chopped peaches and chopped pecans. The peaches can be fresh or frozen, but it is peach season, so I highly recommend using fresh peaches while you can. For the pecans, it is imperative that you toast them. Simply baking them at 375F for about 5 minutes or until fragrant makes them crunchy and flavorful and prevents them from being soggy bits that serve absolutely no purpose.

I may not be able to cook much in Hilton Head since the condo kitchens suck and there's so many good restaurants to eat at instead, but I can still appreciate some good southern cooking. So why drive all the way down to Savannah to wait in line at Paula Deen's restaurant if I can make myself some of these muffins instead? Even if you don't live here, you can still get a taste of the south. Just serve them up with some fried catfish and maple pecan sweet potatoes and it's like you've crossed the Mason-Dixon line already.

3 Cups Flour
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
3 Eggs
1 Cup Oil
⅔ Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
2 Cups Chopped Peaches
1 Cup Chopped Pecans, Toasted

Heat oven to 400ºF and line a muffin tin with paper cups.

Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt together. Whisk the eggs, oil, buttermilk, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla together. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the peaches and pecans.

Scoop the dough into the prepared cups and bake for 16-18 minutes or until cooked through.

Makes 24
Recipe Adapted from

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