Apple butter is a new ingredient for me, first put to use in last week’s peanut butter swirl brownies. Whenever I work with something new, I like to learn its history, to find out how it came to be used in baking.
Like many American staples, apple butter is a European invention. In essence, apple butter is a highly-concentrated form of applesauce, created by cooking apples and cider or water until the fruit caramelizes. The “butter” part refers to its consistency, being easily-spreadable; there is no dairy whatsoever in apple butter, making it a popular low-fat substitute in baking and cooking or in vegan recipes.
These muffins are adapted from another recipe I found online; I added cinnamon to the batter and streusel topping for additional texture. They’re among my favorite treats that I’ve made all summer, not too sweet but with a wonderful cinnamon-sugar aroma and far lighter texture than you’d expect for a recipe that involves rolled oats. My recipe yielded 12 muffins plus one miniature loaf of apple butter bread, but you could easily just made additional muffins if you wish–this just seemed like it would make a nice quick bread as well, so I thought I’d experiment.
Pittsburgh-area friends: visit Soergel Orchards in Wexford for the best apple butter around. They make it themselves from their very own apples and it is delicious.
For streusel topping:
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
For the muffins:
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup apple butter
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line 12-16 muffin cups with paper liners (or line 12 muffin cups with paper liners and lightly grease one miniature loaf pan).
Make streusel topping: in a small bowl combine all ingredients and rub together with your fingers until the mixture resembles very coarse sand. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine oats, milk, eggs, and apple butter; mix well.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; add to wet mixture and stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full.
Using a teaspoon from your measuring spoon set, scoop a very generous amount of streusel topping onto each muffin.
Bake for 20 minutes, until tops are very lightly golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack or serve slightly warm.
Note: if you’re also baking a mini quick bread, it bakes for 20 minutes as well.