Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

Closeup of a basket of Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins
Healthful Alternative

Recipe by Robin

Muffins aren’t what they used to be. These days they’re supersized, and available almost anywhere. But what commercially produced muffins have gained in size they’ve lost in nutrition. Even muffins produced without preservatives or hydrogenated fats are loaded with sugar and enough excess oil to stain your napkin and coat your fingertips. Whole grains have been replaced with refined flour. Artificial color and flavor are not unusual. Plus, they’re expensive. Let’s get back to basics with a low fat fall harvest muffin that’s full of whole grain goodness along with the natural moistness of no-sugar applesauce!

18 Apples in Basket, with Hand Holding One up for Inspection
Yet Another Organic Harvest
If you “Like” Seasonal Eating on Facebook, you already know that I have lots of apples from my tree…and maybe you do too. I’ve been making Rustic Applesauce like crazy. It’s easy to do, even when time is limited. First night: cut up apples and sprinkle with lemon juice (try to enlist chopping help from family). Second night: add water and cinnamon sticks and cook down per recipe. You could even try cooking it overnight in the slow cooker. Or, just buy the unsweetened applesauce. Leftovers are a healthy seasonal snack on their own. Applesauce is the key ingredient that allows us to reduce the quantity of oil needed.

You have probably experienced overly dry wholegrain baked goods. Here are some ways to minimize dryness:
  • Don’t overbake! Remove from oven immediately when toothpick comes out clean.
  • Use a lighter flour, like wholewheat pastry, or even a good unbleached flour.
  • Some folks use quick oats because they absorb water faster while baking.
  • I prefer regular oats or multigrain hot cereal for better nutrition: grind it up a bit in the blender first if you’re concerned that large crunchy pieces will seem dry.
  • Use the golden raisin option, and allow time to soak them beforehand.
  • The buttermilk option will make the muffins rise more and seem lighter.
  • Use the larger quantity of walnut oil.
  • Never overmix your muffins, this makes them tough. Mix per instructions, just enough to barely blend ingredients.
  • In dry climates, store (cooled) muffins in airtight container and eat within a few days.

Dozen Muffin Tin Filled with 10 Muffins Before Baking
Fill Empty Tins 2/3-full with Water
I’ve used apple pie spice as an alternative to cinnamon. To make your own, mix one part cinnamon to ½ part nutmeg and ¼ part allspice, or make up your own spice blend. You could also try adding blueberries or finely shredded apples in place of the raisins. Or try an unrefined sugar such as sucanat (SUgar CAne NATural) to add more vitamins and trace minerals.

Muffin cut in half to show center
Anatomy of a Muffin
Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins
makes 10 - 12

Cooking spray (optional but recommended)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
½  tsp. cinnamon
1¼ cup flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon or apple pie spice
½ tsp. salt
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1½ cups oatmeal or multigrain hot cereal
1 egg
½ cup soy, cow’s, or butter-milk
2 – 3 tbsp. walnut oil
1½ cup no-sugar applesauce
½ cup golden raisins (optional)

If raisins are dry or sticky, cover with boiling water, and let sit for 1 hour. Drain and blot dry. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat a 12-muffin tin with natural oil cooking spray (optional but recommended).

Make topping: mix together 2 tbsp. brown sugar and ½ tsp. cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

Bowl of Half-Mixed Batter
Add Raisins When Batter is Partially Mixed
Mix dry ingredients in medium mixing bowl: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ½ tsp. cinnamon or apple pie spice, salt, and ½ cup brown sugar. Grind oatmeal in blender to desired consistency, if desired. Whisk oatmeal into dry ingredients and set aside.

Beat egg in small mixing bowl with fork till well mixed and fluffy. Beat in milk. Beat in walnut oil until well blended. Stir in applesauce. If very thick (likely if you’re using thick buttermilk), add another splash or two of milk.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together using as few strokes as possible. When wet and dry ingredients are half-blended, add raisins and stir as little as possible to combine.

Spoon into muffin tins until tins are almost completely full. Sprinkle topping over muffin surfaces, pressing down lightly with fingertips.

If there are empty tins, fill them halfway with water to ensure even baking.

Bake muffins at 400 degrees F. for 15 – 20 minutes. When done, toothpick will come out clean when inserted into center of muffin. Don’t overbake!

Remove muffin tins to cooling rack and let rest about 15 minutes. Remove muffins carefully from tins, loosening edges with dull knife. Place on cooling racks until cool enough to eat.

Cool to room temperature before storing in airtight container.

Plate of Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins
Ready for Celebration

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