Monday, December 13, 2010

Applesauce Muffins


That was my big 'ol, 3 months of school stress, tension-releasing sigh of relief.  I'll be letting out an even longer, more serenity-inducing one once Thursday rolls around, and I finish my last final.  Eight quarters down, one to go.  I don't pretend to think that an associates degree is worth a rat's ass, especially in an uber-educated city like Seattle, but I must admit that I do feel a little bit accomplished.  The girl who shunned the college experience, who bounced from this to that for nearly a decade, sampling but never staying, has committed and nearly completed a two-whole-year endeavor.  Those who know me well may indeed be astonished.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, this weekend brought on a round of gluten-free baking inspired by a recipe card acquired on the weekly voyage to the farmers market.  At the information booth, there are often recipes to be had that feature the local, seasonal goods for sale by my favorite farmers.  I always peruse the fliers and recipe offerings.  At some point in past couple of months, I picked up a card with a recipe for applesauce muffins. Just intriguing enough to be stuffed into my bag and then forgotten about for several weeks.

When I finally came across it in the paper-coated depths of my purse, I was once again taken by it. The ingredients were simple, and the word "sugar" was nowhere to be found.  Instead the recipe asked that apples be cored and peeled and chopped and simmered into a simple, homemade applesauce.  Yum!

Here is a portrait of my favoritest of favorite apples, the Honeycrisp.  Very sweet and crunchy, but not hard, I thought this variety would make the perfect sweetener.

This is one of the healthiest baking recipes that I've come across in quite some time.  I made it gluten-free in a snap using Pamela's Baking & Pancake mix.  The applesauce is what truly counts in these muffins, and you will definitely want to make more than you need for this recipe.  It's so delicious, and surprisingly easy.  My muffins are studded with raisins and pumpkin seeds, but you could combine any dried fruit and nut or seed to change up the flavors.  There may be an apricot/walnut fusion in my near future.

Unfortunately, there was no name or credit given on the recipe card, so its creator remains anonymous.  Thank you, whoever you are, muffin-maker-master-maestro! 

Applesauce Muffins
makes 1 dozen muffins

2 large apples, cored, peeled and chopped
2 C. Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix*
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg
2 Tbs. oil
3/4 C. raisins (optional)
3/4 C. pumpkin seeds (optional)

*If you don't want to use a mix, use instead your favorite gluten-free flour blend, and add xanthan gum and baking soda. 
If you want to make these with gluten, sub 2 C. of all-purpose flour and add 1/2 tsp. baking soda and an additional 1 tsp. of baking powder.  The rest of the recipe stays the same.

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Place the chopped apples in a medium saucepan with about 1/2 C. of water.  Bring this to a boil on high heat, then reduce to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally.  Continue simmering until the apples are very soft, about 20 minutes.  Mash and stir the apples until you get a chunky applesauce.  Set this aside to cool.
  • While the applesauce is cooling some, begin making the batter.  Start by sifting the flour into a large mixing bowl.  Add the baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, and whisk to combine.  
  • In a separate, medium bowl, lightly beat the egg, and then add the oil, whisking to combine.  Add 1 1/2 C. of the applesauce to the egg/oil mixture and combine well.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until just combined.  Don't overmix!
  • Fold in the dried fruit and seeds or nuts, once again being careful not to overmix.
  • Spoon the batter into greased muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned.  Because of the applesauce, the toothpick test is not accurate to determine doneness. 
These are excellent treats if you want to avoid excess sugar.  I'm also, as of about 30 seconds ago, considering using ground flax instead of oil to make these even more nutrient and fiber dense. 

Meanwhile, back in the classroom, there's just a few days left until winter break! Finally, some decompression, and some long-awaited kitchen time.  Stay tuned!

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