5 Shades of Apples Part II: I Want a Muffin Top

Welcome back to 5 Shades of Apples! I have heard some great feedback about the apple pizza yesterday and I’m excited to hear how all yours will  turn out. Thanks for all of your comments and for following along! Keep me posted on your cooking adventures. Alright, let’s keep this gravy train moving. 🙂

It’s Day 2 so what do I have on tap for you?

After giving considerable thought to what my second apple recipe should be in the wee hours of the morning while eating my breakfast, I had an epiphany. I’m normally up and out of my apartment before the sun rises so my breakfast is usually something grab-and-go that I can fix once I get to the office. I’ve alternated between a Greek yogurt with granola and almonds or a multi-grain English muffin with peanut butter or almond butter, which is all well and good. Except when you’ve been eating it daily for months.  I need some spice in my life!

My second recipe is dedicated to all those workaholics and superheroes (wonder women let me hear you!) who need fuel in the AM but don’t have time to whip up something wholesome quickly. Say hello to my little friend, the muffin.

I’m not talking about those enormous pieces of cake that are shaped as muffins. I’m talking about healthy, filling, delicious muffins that will get you through the morning with a smile on your face. And even better; this one comes with fresh apple AND oatmeal which means more bang for your buck.


It was an ugly, rainy day here in New York today but I braved the downpours in my soaked Birkenstocks to pick up some fresh apples from one of the farmer’s markets open only on Tuesdays. After speaking with the knowledgeable staff and farmers for suggestions regarding my upcoming recipes (no spoilers!), I was able to pick up a nice and varied selection including the apple I will be featuring here today.

Meet the Gala.

My favorite of all the apples, galas were perfect for tonight’s recipe.

Fun Gala Facts:

  • Gala is kind of a mutt. It’s a cross between Kidd’s Orange Red (which is a cross of Cox’s Orange Pippin and Red Delicious) and Golden Delicious.
  • They can be grown in both temperate and warm regions so it is readily available in the north as well as the south year round.
  • Galas are the most widely grown apple varieties in the world.
  • The coloration tends to be a light red with orange streaks over a yellow background. Colors will denote the maturity of the apple; the darker the gala the longer it stayed on the tree to mature before it was picked.
  • There are dozens of “sport” mutations of Gala where they’re cultivated to create a deeper red color. The most popular sport is Royal Gala.
  • It’s a standard go-to for reliable sweetness and so they’re best for eating, applesauce, and in salads.

There were a number of great muffin recipes, but I decided to go with CookieandKate’s version after my success with the blueberry scones and pumpkin bread two weeks ago. Her blog is insightful and offers loads of suggestions that help keep things healthy and light. Plus this muffin recipe stood out from the rest with its South Asian flair from the ingredient list.

Here are the ingredients:

Notes and Alterations:  I made several departures from Kate’s recipe. She has an enviable pantry and there are several ingredients here that I either couldn’t find or don’t own, most notably the cardamom and coconut milk. I added 1/8 tsp of ground cloves in place of the cardamom and replaced the coconut milk with Chobani 0% plain Greek yogurt. I did manage to find muscovado sugar so I splurged a bit there to use something different than plain light brown sugar. I just bought a bag of walnuts so I decided to add about a ½ cup to the batter. Also, I used whole-wheat pastry flour because I prefer the lighter texture of pastry flour in muffins.

Got all that? If you’re comfortable with substitutions in baking then by all means, go for it. Just be careful and note that major changes, especially to the measurements can dramatically change the end product.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter your muffin pan with a spray and let it hang out until you’re ready.

Aside from your ingredient list, you’re also going to need a supply of utensils and tools:

  • 2 bowls, one medium and one large
  • Measuring cups: 1cup, ½ cup, ¼ cup
  • Measuring spoons: 1 tbsp, 1tsp, ½ tsp, ¼ tsp (for 1/8 I just scoop half in the ¼ tsp)
  • Rubber spatula
  • Muffin tin (obviously, have you been paying attention?)
  • Cooling rack
  • Pretty apron * optional 🙂

When making batters note one significant rule: you should always have one bowl for dry ingredients and one bowl for wet. Not only does it make things simpler, it creates a better muffin (or cookie, cake, etc. ) The order in which dry and wet ingredients are mixed varies with the recipe but just follow along and you’ll be fine.

That said, we mix! Take all your dry stuff (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, oats, and cloves or cardamom if you have it) in one bowl, whisk together, and set aside. Next, take all your wet ingredients (applesauce, sugar, oil, beaten egg, vanilla extract, and yogurt or coconut milk), add to the second bowl, toss in the optional walnuts if you’re using them and mix well.

The applesauce I used in this recipe was store-bought, but it was unsweetened. The ingredient list was beautiful: organic apples. That’s it. No high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavorings of any kind. If you have your very own homemade apple sauce then please, use it here. And keep in mind that just because this is an apple recipe, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use applesauce as a sweetener in other baked goods. It’s often used as a sweetener in place of sugar (or artificial sugars) especially for diabetes-friendly recipes. It’d be a good addition to your pantry if you don’t already have it on hand.

One more note about eggs and baking. You should always use eggs at room temperature for cakes and muffins. Room temperature eggs whisk to higher volumes and they help ensure what you’re baking rises properly. Keep that in mind!

Okay, now we have our wet and dry ingredients all neat and tidy in their bowls.

Take your gala apples, peel, core, and chop them.

Create a well in the larger bowl with the dry ingredients and pour the applesauce mixture in slowly mixing. You don’t want to overmix your batter so just mix until all the ingredients have been incorporated. Next add the chopped up gala apples by folding them into the batter.

Take your greased pan and fill each cup about ¾ of the way full. You don’t want them to overflow but you want a decent size, so don’t pack the batter in and you should be fine.  Sprinkle ground nutmeg and turbinado (or raw) sugar on top and place the pan in the oven.

Set the timer for about 18 minutes.  Check on it sporadically and turn the pan around halfway through baking. I like to do this because I have a pretty crappy oven (oh Santa PLEASE get me a new oven this year!) and this step helps ensure even heat throughout whatever I’m baking.

I wish you could all smell what I’m smelling right now. Does that technology exist yet? Even though it’s rainy and humid out, it feels like fall with smells of cinnamon and apple baking together. Hmm- LOVE this right now!

My ladybug timer dings and it’s done! Just look at these beauties!

Before you burn your skin off in a rush to tear into one of these guys, keep in mind that you have to let them properly cool down.  They’re still cooking from the residual heat of the oven and you should give them a good half hour to 45 minutes or so to cool down after you pop them out of the tins and onto the cooling rack. They can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for about a week. They can also be wrapped in plastic and stored for 2-3 months in the freezer.

Now that you’ve got breakfast sorted, what are you guys going to do with that extra time in the morning? I’m hitting the snooze button….

Did you know?

Archaeologists have found fossilized apple seeds in Central Asia dating back to 6500 BC. Talk about a paleo diet.

Join me tomorrow for Day 3 of 5 Shades of Apples! It’s my most ambitious one yet. 🙂

14 Replies to “5 Shades of Apples Part II: I Want a Muffin Top”

      1. You’re welcome 🙂 I have been using almond flour lately as a gluten free “flour” and sometimes a mix of coconut and almond. You will have to play around with the ratios but I know from experience that coconut flour soaks up moisture like crazy so I use an 80/20 ratio of almond to coconut. I am sure it would work as long as there are leavening agents for the baked goods to rise. I hope this helps as I am not a baker by any means:)


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