Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Apple Cider Muffins

Apple Cider Muffins
One of my favorite childhood treats were apple cider donuts that a local apple orchard made fresh every fall.  I always looked forward to going apple picking, but I honestly think it was more about the bag of hot mini donuts that my mom bought for my brother and I afterwards that made the day special.  I don't know if it was the cinnamon and sugar topping or the buttery grease smell that permeated the apple shack, but those donuts always called to me.  I suppose they did have apple in them, or at least apple cider, but whatever the magic ingredients, they always hit the spot.  Unfortunately I am sure they were not at all healthy.  This recipe changes all that.

Every fall I see apple cider start to fill up the shelves in the produce section of my local grocery store, but I rarely buy it.  I am picky about buying my apple products organic, and I don't drink a lot of sugary beverages. But a few weeks ago I saw organic apple cider and so on impulse, I bought a jug.  It has sat at the bottom of my fridge waiting to be opened ever since, and because my kids don't seem to like it much, I thought maybe I could bake with it.  That is when I remembered the apple cider donuts of my childhood and realized that there has to be a good way to make muffins using cider.  I searched online for a couple of recipes but as usual didn't find anything that I really liked, so I took a couple of different ones, morphed them together and wrote up this recipe.  I really had no idea how it would all come together, but I can assure you they are incredible.

I wasn't sure I was going to be able to find apple butter in my store, and I really wasn't sure what was in it, but I went searching and found a jar of organic apple butter in the jelly section.  The ingredients are simply organic apples and organic apple juice concentrate, but you would never know that by the taste.  It is incredibly sweet, moist and rich.  If you cannot find apple butter, I am sure apple sauce would work as well.  For the fresh diced apples, I used the organic granny smith variety because they are firm and tart and great when baking.  So next time you get a craving for an apple cider donut made the old fashioned way, try whipping up a batch of these wholesome ones first! You will not be disappointed!

Apple Cider Muffins (and Donuts!)
the apple butter I used, and the diced apples

2 1/2 C. organic whole wheat pastry flour
1 T. ground flax seed
1 T. wheat germ
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 C. brown sugar
2/3 C. organic apple butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 C. plain Greek yogurt
wet and dry ingredients
1/4 C. organic canola oil
2 large organic eggs
1 C. organic apple cider

1 or 2 organic apples, peeled and finely diced (about 1 C.)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Sift together the flour, flax seed, wheat germ, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, apple butter, vanilla extract, yogurt and canola oil until well blended.  Beat in the eggs one at a time. Pour in the apple cider, alternately adding in the dry ingredients as well.  Stir together until thoroughly mixed and then fold in the apple pieces. Spoon the batter into paper lined or greased muffin tins filling each about 3/4 full.  Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Makes about 18 muffins.

*bake for about 15 minutes in a donut pan.

ready for the oven!

it made a lot!!

perfectly baked donuts!!

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