When I saw leftover applesauce in my refrigerator, my thoughts turned to applesauce walnut muffins. It seemed like a good idea, but I soon realized that this was not a well trod path. I couldn’t find a recipe in any of my cookbooks or online for applesauce muffins, nor could I find one that would easily accommodate my key ingredient. After all, applesauce is not quite liquid or solid, so you can’t easily substitute it for a liquid ingredient like milk, or a solid ingredient like dried fruit or chocolate chips.
I suppose I could have gone for a banana bread muffin recipe, figuring that mashed bananas and applesauce aren’t too different in texture. Or I could have taken a cue from Liam, turning my banana bread recipe into muffins with applesauce instead of bananas. But I was in a more adventurous mood after all that recipe research.
As I gathered ingredients for my experiment, I considered texture, taste, and size. The muffins should be generous enough to enjoy singly, but not so big as to be intimidating. They should have a hint of apples and cinnamon, but not an overwhelmingly fruity or sweet taste. And finally, I aimed for a muffin firm enough to cut, but still moist.
My first attempt was too moist and not tasty enough – not disastrous, but disappointing. Although I was prepared to go for several more rounds, I got it right on the second try. Homemade muffins are usually best soon after they are baked and many recipes recommend re-heating them if you’re serving them later. But I tried one of these applesauce walnut muffins the next day, cold and it was still good – quite good I’d say.
Applesauce Walnut Muffins
Serving – 12 muffins
Cost – $4 for 12 / $0.34 per muffin even if you have to buy the applesauce and use expensive flour and (cage free) eggs
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 eggs
- ⅓ cup milk (I use skim. Whole or low fat are fine too.)
- ⅓ cup applesauce (unsweetened)
- ⅓ cup canola or other oil without strong taste (not olive oil)
- ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 2 bowls
- Sifter (I use wire colander with small holes)
- Knife or other straight edge (not pictured)
- 2 spoons
- Measuring cups for solids
- Measuring cup for liquids
- Measuring spoons
- Bowl/chopper or cutting board/knife (to chop nuts)
- 12 cup muffin tin (“regular” size muffins)
- Muffin cup liners
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Put muffin cup liners into muffins cups.
- Measure the flour, spooning flour into the measuring cup and leveling it off with a straight edge (such as the back of a knife) so that you use only a level cup. This is called the “spoon-and-sweep” method.
If you work on a clean piece of waxed paper, you can fold the paper when you are done and pour the excess back into the flour container or bag. Use the same method for measuring the other dry ingredients. (Measure the baking soda and powder each directly over its container, carefully sweeping excess back into that container.)
- Sift the measured dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda) together into the larger bowl and set aside.
- Mix the “wet” ingredients (eggs, milk, applesauce, oil) and light brown sugar in the second bowl. Set aside.
- Chop the walnuts into pieces about the size of your pinky nail and set aside.
- Add the wet ingredient/brown sugar mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Add the chopped nuts and mix just a few strokes until nuts are dispersed through mixture.
- Using 2 spoons (1 to scoop the mixture and the other to push it off the first spoon), evenly divide the mixture among the 12 lined muffin cups.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are rounded and lightly golden.
- Cool for a few minutes. Gently remove muffins from muffin tin. If you are storing them for the next day, put the muffins in a closed container – they dry out if left in open air.