Spiced Apple and Brown Butter Muffins
It’s very hard for me not to gush about these delicious gluten-free spiced apple and brown butter muffins! Just the brown butter alone adds a toasty, almost coffee-like background notes to these lovely breakfast cakes. Hints of almond, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom give warmth within the fruity sweetness of apples and woody overtones of the maple syrup. Also, I’ve added a serving of Salba, a type of ancient grain that’s grown in South America (and they’re gluten-free!) to give the muffins a significant nutritional boost. No worries, Salba is virtually tasteless and odourless, so it won’t change any flavour.
Here’s a little information about one serving (15 g or 2 tablespoons) of Salba: *Note: this is NOT a sponsored post. I simply love Salba!
- More heart-healthy, memory boosting omega-3′s than any other natural source with 3,050 mg per serving
- More beneficial fiber than any other natural source (even wheat bran) with more than 5000 mg of dietary fiber per serving
- Six times more bone-building calcium than whole milk
- Fifteen times more magnesium than broccoli
- Three times more immune boosting iron than spinach
- Seven times more age-fighting vitamin C than an orange
- More energizing potassium than a banana
- Proteins superior in quality to those in wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley and soy
- High levels of the same antioxidants found in disease fighting vegetables and fruits
We also got a bag of lady apples from our local market, and my younger ‘Tarteenie’ couldn’t stop eating them! Lady apples are crisp and tart – like Granny Smiths – but they are too tiny to grate into the muffins (we used red delicious instead). Needless to say, the little lady apples were reserved as toppings instead.
These muffins remind me of a Normandy cake, which is basically an apple cake made with local apples and butter. Normandy is in southwestern France. And for those of you who love history, this is where the D-day Landings occurred, along five strands of the Normandy coast. The landing beaches were: Sword, Juno (where Canadian troops landed), Gold, Omaha, and Utah. (Recommended movie: Saving Private Ryan).
This coming Monday, we celebrate Remembrance Day in Canada, which commemorates all the Allied troops who lost their lives during the D-day attacks. At my daughter’s senior kindergarten class, not only are they learning about the significance of Remembrance Day, but they are also talking about the bounties of the Fall harvest during their Science period. It’s a perfect time to combine the two seemingly separate topics and synthesize the learning into something they might remember easily. Food and history are always a good combination, in my opinion!
That said, over there in Normandy, they love their apples. You’ll find them in ciders, liqueurs, cakes, flans, tarts, etc. As well, butter places prominently in their culinary traditions, so expect that they make some of the world’s best.
As far as today’s muffins are concerned, I used two of Normandy’s traditional products, with special attention to the butter. European-style, home-churned butter is recommended for this recipe (although not a do-or-die situation) because they have higher fat content (84% compared to 80% in supermarket butter), plus they usually come from cows that are free to roam grassy pastures. I tell you, this makes for a wonderfully nutty brown butter. And if you wish – only if you wish – you can add a dash of Calvados (apple brandy) to give your muffins more of the desired Norman flair!
Don’t fret now, the muffins are coming your way…
- 1½ sticks (170 g) unsalted butter, preferably European-style
- 1 to 1-1/2 apples (200 g), peeled and grated (we used Red Delicious)
- a squeeze of lemon
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (160 g) brown rice flour
- ½ cup (60 g) almond flour
- 1 tablespoon (7 g) sorghum flour*
- 1 tablespoon (7 g) sweet rice flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons ground Salba**
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground mace
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup (130 ml) raw honey
- ⅓ cup (75 g) light muscovado or coconut sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon Calvados (an apple liqueur from Normandy)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider (or substitute with apple juice)
- 2 tablespoons raw natural pistachios, crushed
- lady apples for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
- In a small sauce pan, cook butter over medium heat until bubbly and a deep amber colour develops, about 8 to 10 minutes. It should smell like "noisette" or roasted hazelnuts. Set aside.
- Grate your peeled apples and squeeze some lemon on it. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, almond flour, sorghum flour, sweet rice flour, baking powder, salt, Salba, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, and cardamom.
- In a bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment or with a handheld mixer, whisk together vanilla extract, honey, sugar, eggs, Calvados, and apple cider for 1 minute, or until well-incorporated.
- Continue mixing on low speed and slowly pour the brown butter into the mixture. Increase speed to medium and whisk for 30 seconds more.
- Gently fold the dry ingredients to the wet, but do not overmix.
- Fold the grated apples into the batter. At this point, you can either let the batter rest in the refrigerator overnight, or you can also proceed to bake them.
- Line a muffin pan with paper liners or prepare your silicone molds. Using an ice cream scoop, uniformly fill each cup with batter, about ¾ full. If you wish to be exact, weigh the batter portions by setting your muffin pan or molds on a scale and pressing tare each time you put batter in the cup. I made my muffins at 95 grams each - it's on the larger size.
- Sprinkle with crushed pistachios and set a halved lady apple on top.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until tester inserted comes out clean.
- Transfer muffins to cooling rack. They will keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days, or up to a month in the freezer.