I think I was in denial that fall has arrived. Fall’s been a little rocky for a few years in a row (Hurricane Sandy, freak snowstorms), so I figured if I kept baking with maple syrup, bananas, and zucchini I could stall things a little. But it’s time for change, and these apple butter spice muffins are a delicious way to kick it off. While my taste buds will never accept a muffin with fruit pieces in it — I remember trying this applesauce cake well over a year ago and not liking it — I took a risk on these apple butter muffins, intrigued.
It was a risk worth taking: the results were lovely. Spiced, flavorful, slightly sticky breakfast muffins. Welcome, fall. Welcome, change.
Let fall the oats!
I added half a cup of milk.
And apple cider. (I think this is what helped cleanse the memory of that too-applesauce-y cake from my past.)
Apple butter, eggs, and vanilla followed.
Dry ingredients were separate. I subbed some of the flour out for wheat germ, and added baking soda, baking powder, and salt. I had a little fun with the spices: two teaspoons of cinnamon, a half teaspoon each of nutmeg and apple pie spice.
I added it to the first bowl with the apple-y things.
I let the batter sit for a bit while I prepared the topping. I’m not always that interested in glazes and toppings, but it’s pretty hard to resist brown sugar (which I cut back to 1/3 of a cup), oats, and cinnamon. Just look at it.
Okay, it does look at little weird floating in its strange orange universe. but that’s just because I shot it a little too closely. It looked better (if messier) once I sprinkled it on all the muffins.
I set the timer for 15 minutes, and checked every few minutes after that. It was really hard to tell when these were done even with the toothpick test. The toothpick would come out looking clean, but feeling a little gooey, and it was hard to determine if it was the topping it was hitting on the way out or the interior of the muffin itself. At 22 minutes, I was convinced that they’d been in long enough. I let them sit in the pan for another 5.
It got messier when I moved them out of the pan onto a rack, and made me hungrier too.
Now I won’t pretend these weren’t messy to eat, but worth it? Absolutely. They’re a bit sticky in the nicest way — they don’t stick to the paper, but they stick to your hands. The topping adds a lovely bit of sweetness and texture and the inside is dense and warm, full of spicy fall flavor without even a touch of that applesauce flavor that turned me off the cake so long ago. One person told me they were her favorite muffins of all the ones I’ve ever made! They taste like breakfast on a fall day, and pair perfectly with a hot cup of tea. A great start to any day.
WHOLE WHEAT APPLE BUTTER MUFFINS RECIPE (original recipe)
My version of Apple Butter Spice Muffins (adapted from Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts)
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup apple cider
1/3 cup apple butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2/3 cup whole wheat white flour
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup (scant) coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat oven to 425 degrees, you will reduce the temperature later. Grease, spray, or line a 12-cup muffin tin.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, milk, apple cider, apple butter, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and apple pie spice.
Add the dry ingredients to the liquid and mix just until incorporated.
While the batter sits for a few minutes, mix the topping together, combining the sugar, oats, and cinnamon thoroughly. Scoop the batter into muffin tins and layer as thickly as you like with the topping, as there’s quite a lot of it.
Reduce oven temperature to 400, then bake for 18-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. . .you may have to go with your gut on this one. Give them five more minutes in the pan, then move to a wire rack.