25 Sep Healthy Apple, Maple & Pecan Muffins
Happy Thursday! You made it, the week is almost over! Aaand I made you muffins for breakfast! Healthy muffins, at that!
I was hesitant to call these muffins health food because, well, they’re no kale salad, but I figured when compared to some of the other, erm, more elaborate recipes on this blog, they might as well be a dang bushel of broccoli. WHICH my newly-reformed broccoli-hating-self just started eating like it’s going out of style! Self clap!
The secret is roasting it and then dousing with lots of lemon. All these years, who knew?! Girl Scout’s Honor (anybody have a Thin Mint?), it has the power to turn 27-year-detesters-of-all-tree-shaped-veggies into broccoli evangelists (ahem, case in point). If this weren’t a dessert blog I might even share my magic broccoli romance with you, but where’s the fun in that? Muffins, though. Muffins are fun.
(P.S. Broccoli doesn’t come in bushels, does it?)
While I’m trying to avoid having one of my own, I like my muffins with a little badonkadonk. You know, muffins with big, domed, craggly tops. The kind that stare back at you from the bakery case just begging to be devoured alongside, dare I say it, a pumpkin spice latte. (#PSL) But those big ‘ole bakery muffins aren’t doing your waistline any favors. They’re a splurge for sure, and this time of year I like to save my splurges for sky-high birthday cakes (one week!) and bags on bags on bags of Halloween candy.
Sidenote: Wouldn’t it be the bees if you could choose what part of your body your desserts adhered themselves too? Dear mister muffin, you’re looking awfully toasty and delicious today. What’s that? Oh yes, today I think I’d like you to head straight to my right buttcheek. And Mrs. Muffin for seconds, you can head to the left. We’d all look like the Kardashians up in hurr. Minus the collagen injections, multiple weddings and ego, of course. Sadly, all the muffins I stuff into my muffin hole seem to prefer becoming flabby arm and/or double chin instead. Thanks for that, metabolism.
The good news is these Healthy Apple, Maple & Pecan Muffins are made with whole wheat flour, coconut oil and no refined sugars (<— that’s a HUGE step for me, guys) so there’s less guilt, and alllll of the right kind of muffin top goodness. They’re filled with wholesome ingredients and bursting with autumn flavors. While I’m still resisting pumpkin (until October) this week did hold the the first day of fall and while stubborn, I have no qualms with paying homage my favorite season of the year. Warm, hearty, appley + maple muffins were the perfect way to ring in the new (best) season. And don’t tell anybody, but I’m pretty sure they’re PSL’s soulmate…not that I would know…yet.
I based this recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s Whole Wheat Apple Muffins, but made quite a few adjustments to make the recipe both refined sugar and dairy-free. To keep these muffins on the guiltless spectrum, I used a combination of organic, raw sugar and maple syrup instead of refined white and brown sugars. I also tried to keep things plant-based by using coconut oil for the fat and unsweetened almond milk in place of the whole milk and/or sour cream typically used in muffins. The recipe does call for eggs, though they could be easily replaced with an egg alternative for a vegan muffin.
Given there were so many substitutions, and to make these muffins the best they can be, I spent a lot of time researching techniques for achieving perfect muffins — specifically for creating lust-worthy domed *badonkadonk* muffin tops. Proper technique is especially important with this recipe because any time you’re baking with whole wheat flour you can expect the end result to be more dense than with a white flour alone, which is why you often see whole wheat flour mixed with white flour in recipes, like this one. I’ve included my learnings in list format below. Read them, follow them, love them. Otherwise, you risk flat, boring muffins and we want puffy, crackly muffin tops. The bigger the better.
I like big tops and I cannot lie.
thong dome, dome, dome, dome, dome.
My humps, my humps, my humps, my humps. My humps they got you…Too much?
Here they are. My muffin learnings, passed on to you so you can go forth and make toasty, cinnamon-sugar topped morsels of breakfast heaven.
Tips for perfectly domed muffin tops:
Bake your muffins at 400F, even if the recipe tells you a lower temperature! Trust me, this is the MOST IMPORTANT piece of muffin making advice I have for you.
Use the “muffin method”. This means, using a recipe that calls for a liquid fat, not butter. But Katie, isn’t this blog called Butterlust? Yes, yes it is. But in this case, we’re muffin-lusting and that means doing the damn thing right. When you make muffins using the “creaming method” i.e. creaming butter and sugar together then adding your dry ingredients into your wet ones, you’re arguably making a cupcake. It blurs the lines. The muffin method means using a liquid fat and mixing the wet ingredients (well combined beforehand) into the dry by hand. Do so with a gentle folding motion versus stirring and stop folding in your ingredients before you think you should. It’s okay if there are some lumps in the batter. Any extra flour will get absorbed during the resting period and by avoiding over-mixing you prevent gluten formation, resulting in puffier, more tender muffins.
Let your muffin batter rest for 15 minutes before baking. This can be in the bowl or after scooping into the muffin tins and *ONLY* applies if you’re using a double acting baking powder. Double-acting baking power reacts twice, first when it comes into contact with the liquids in the recipe, then again when it’s exposed to heat. I’m no scientist, but I deduce that by letting the batter rest you’re giving the baking powder a little extra time for that first reaction, resulting in lighter, more leavened batter. If you’re using a recipe that calls for a baking soda + acid (buttermilk, yogurt, etc.) combination alone for leavening, this rule does not apply and you should put your muffins into the oven immediately after filling the tins.
Fill your muffin tins at least 3/4 of the way full. Maybe a little more. If you follow all of the above, they won’t overflow. Promise.
And there you have it. Beautiful muffins, every time.
A Few Notes About This Recipe:
This recipe can very easily be made vegan by substituting an egg alternative for the two eggs. Try using 1 tbsp of ground chia seeds + 3 tbsp of water, per egg.
Certain apples are better suited for baking than others. I recommend using Honey Crisp, Braeburn, or Gala apples for this recipe. They are all on the sweeter side and since this recipe is free of refined sugar, they help to add natural sweetness.
Enjoy! XO, Katie
- 1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 cup coconut oil + more for greasing muffin tin
- 1/4 cup sugar in the raw
- 1 cup almond milk (or milk/non-dairy milk of your choice)
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp grade b maple syrup
- 1 1/2 tsp maple extract
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, room temperature and well beaten
- 2 cups finely chopped apples
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- cinnamon sugar topping (5 tbsp sugar in the raw + 1 tsp cinnamon)
- Preheat the oven to 400F and grease 2 muffin tins with coconut oil.
- In a bowl combine the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk together very well.
- In a separate bowl mix together the coconut oil and sugar for 1-2 minutes to help the sugar in the raw dissolve a little. Add the maple syrup, eggs. almond milk, vinegar, and extracts.
- Carefully add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together until blended. There shouldn't be any large pockets of flour in your batter but some lumps should remain. Gently fold in the apples and pecans.
- Fill muffin cups almost to the top and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Let rest for 15 minutes, then bake for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
- Cool for 10 minutes in the tins then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.