These healthy apple muffins are made with no butter, grapeseed oil and the only refined sugar is right on top where you can taste it! Guaranteed to have your family shouting “More, pretty please?!?”
My limited baking skills made getting the real apple flavor I wanted from these muffins quite a challenge. In the end, I had to call in the baking big guns. Without their loving guidance I’d still be churning out good but unremarkable muffins and pawning them off on the parents at my daughter’s bus stop.
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This apple muffins recipe is adapted from the Skinny Blueberry Muffins in What to Bake and How to Bake It by Jane Hornsby. I love this book but it only makes its way off my cookbook shelf once a year. The holiday season is the only time that my need for home baked goods exceeds the anxiety I feel when trying to make them.
But muffins are supposed to be easy.
And, to give myself a little credit, most of my tweaks did work right off the bat.
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Coconut sugar for regular white sugar. Grapeseed oil for vegetable oil. But I had a devil of a time converting the flavor to apple. It seemed so simple. Just a one-for-one swap of blueberries for apples. But batch after batch was met by my taste-testers with the refrain, “These are really good. What are they?”
Sugar-on-Top Apple Muffins Recipe
Everyone is hearing that Sondheim song right now, right??
I considered throwing in the towel and just calling them “Yummy General Not-Too-Sweet Muffins” but that’s not exactly an attention grabber. Plus, giving up on muffins? Come on!
So instead I reached out to my bloggy friends Michelle, Julie, Dini and Sandi. Their wise counsel helped me figure out that by switching from golden delicious to granny smiths, using two instead of one and dicing them instead of grating them I would get the flavor I’d been looking for.
Michelle’s suggestion to ‘rinse’ the diced apple with lemon was particularly awesome. The lemon inhibits the apple from breaking down while it bakes so you get nice chunks in there that hold their shape and add a nice texture.
Sandi’s advice not to stir the batter too much was another great tip. Some lumps are ok. The less you stir the moister your muffin will be.
My final tweak was to sprinkle the tops with Bob’s Red Mill Sparkling Sugar. Since I didn’t use any refined sugar in the batter of these apple muffins, I felt more than free to sprinkle some on top.
After all, that’s the most direct route to your taste buds, right?
Even with that slight indulgence, you don’t feel like you’re eating a cupcake without frosting. These are proper muffins. Designed to accompany a proper cup of tea. Or, in my daughter’s case, a glass of milk.
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 2 granny smith apples peeled, cored, diced and rinsed with lemon juice
- Bob's Red Mill Sparkling Sugar or decorative sugar of choice
Preheat oven to 400˚
Line 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners
Mix the flours, baking powder, baking soda, spice and salt together.
Sift into a large mixing bowl to ensure the leaveners are evenly distributed.
Any whole wheat bran that doesn't sift through should be added back in to the dry mix.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
Combine milk, eggs, oil and almond extract. Beat well with a fork.
Pour the wet mixture into the well.
Add the apples.
Stir to combine. Some lumps and dry bits are OK.
Fill paper liners with muffin batter. They will be quite full. That's OK.
Sprinkle tops with decorative sugar.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove to rack to cool.
Great note from Jane Hornsby, especially for nervous bakers like me who are constantly checking checking checking. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN until all the muffins have a good rise under their belts. For me, this was at least eight minutes. A very looong eight minutes...