Spiced Apple and Brown Butter Muffins

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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 postI 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…

5.0 from 11 reviews
Spiced Apple and Brown Butter Muffins
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A gluten-free muffin made with brown rice, almond, and sorghum flours. The addition of brown butter adds a toasty, almost coffee-ish background notes to these apple-and-spice muffins.
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Serves: 6 large or 12 regular muffins
  • 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
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
  2. 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.
  3. Grate your peeled apples and squeeze some lemon on it. Set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Continue mixing on low speed and slowly pour the brown butter into the mixture. Increase speed to medium and whisk for 30 seconds more.
  7. Gently fold the dry ingredients to the wet, but do not overmix.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Sprinkle with crushed pistachios and set a halved lady apple on top.
  11. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until tester inserted comes out clean.
  12. 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.
* If you cannot find sorghum flour, replace with tapioca flour, corn starch, or even white rice flour. **Salba is an ancient South American grain that is gluten-free, rich in omega-3's, calcium, magnesium, and fiber. It is referred to as "the perfect food" by Dr. Jack Bukowski M.D., Ph.D. of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital.



  • Reply November 7, 2012

    Choc Chip Uru

    I loved the health facts my friend, it makes these muffins just that little bit more enticing (not that they need it!)

    Choc Chip Uru

  • Great health facts, Jen! Stunning photos of a delicious looking muffin!

  • Reply November 7, 2012

    amy @ fearless homemaker

    I’ve never heard of Salba, but it sounds interesting – I’ll have to see if I can find it here. And those muffins look divine!

  • These muffins are absolutely gorgeous, almost to beautiful to eat! Beautiful photos!

  • Reply November 7, 2012

    jaime @ sweet road

    Oh gosh these muffins are beautiful! I love your decorating!

  • Reply November 7, 2012


    Beautiful muffins! I love that unique touch on the apple slice topping too. :) Half on the list of ingredients I don’t have, hahaha… so I need to improvise. My gluten-free projects coming soon!

  • Reply November 7, 2012


    When he was six or seven, my dad’s house (in France) was liberated from Nazi control by a heroic group of American, British, and Canadian soldiers. His family was part of the resistance, so their arrival was nothing short of miraculous. (I doubt that they all came at once, but he always had a place in his heart for each…one soldier introduced him to peanut butter!) :)

    If only he’d had a batch of these lovely muffins as a way of saying Merci! 😀

    As usual, your photos have transported me away from the chilly, damp weather and made me feel as though I’m sitting at a springtime picnic table somewhere in Provence. xo

  • Reply November 7, 2012


    These muffins look so cute with the lady apple in the middle. I love the use of the brown rice flour. I’ve never heard of Salba but it sounds interesting and healthy.

  • Reply November 7, 2012

    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious

    What gorgeous muffins! And I totally want to give this recipe a try – there’s a lot of ingredients I’ve never used before but I want to try gluten-free things so this is absolutely perfect!

  • Reply November 7, 2012

    Sandra's Easy Cooking

    Oh Wow…Jen you did it again! what a great recipe and pictures are making me want some with my afternoon tea! Your muffins look so delicious, and presentation and styling just stunning! I bet your kids loved the little apple cut-outs on top…so pretty!
    Enjoy the holiday!

  • Reply November 7, 2012


    These have to be the most gorgeous muffins I’ve seen! I will say a visual treat as well as a nutritional one .;-)

  • These muffins look perfect! Love how good they are for you too!

  • Reply November 7, 2012

    Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    These muffins are seriously gorgeous – almost too pretty to eat! (But I think I could eat one or two for taste testing purposes ;))

  • These muffins are STUNNING! I love the apple slice on the top. And they are healthy too? Now that is a super bonus!! Lovely photos!

  • Reply November 8, 2012

    suzanne Perazzini

    I love the splash of calvados. Great flavours all round. I must find some brown rice flour – not so easy here.

  • Reply November 8, 2012

    Jen @ Savory Simple

    Brown butter really does make everything better.

  • SWOON!! (1) Love your little one’s outfit! (2) OMG! That pan!! (3) How beautiful to place a whole half of the apple on top of the muffin! (4) brown butter… YUM!!

  • Reply November 8, 2012


    Most beautiful apple muffins that I have ever seen… Gorgeous!

  • Reply November 8, 2012

    Nami | Just One Cookbook

    I really think the sliced apple on top of muffins is so pretty and wonderful idea. One without and one with the apple slice, it makes a huge difference and you have such an eye to find the difference!! I wouldn’t probably come up with the idea at all! Lovely recipe, Jen! Happy Holiday!

  • Reply November 8, 2012

    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com

    LOVE the styling!! Those are the cutest and tiniest apples I’ve ever laid my eyes on :)

  • Reply November 8, 2012

    Amy (Savory Moments)

    Wow, I mean – WOW! These muffins are stunning! Lovely photos and recipe. Thanks for introducing me to Salba.

  • Reply November 9, 2012


    gorgeous pictures and styling! the muffins look so good that i want them for a late night snack!

  • Reply November 9, 2012

    Ronja @ a dash of faith

    These muffins look stunning!

  • Reply November 9, 2012

    Magic of Spice

    Oh wow! These are just gorgeous, love the apple slices on top, so pretty!
    And love the history as well, yes food and history make a great combination :)

  • Reply November 9, 2012


    Yah Canada! We have so many reasons to be proud of our vets and our apples!!! My husband and I walked Juno two years ago, saw all the Canadian flags waving proudly all over Normandy, visited the cemeteries so tenderly maintained by devoted And grateful French citizens. It was a humbling and sobering experience for certain. Thank you for reminding the world that it was our courageous Canadian soldiers that made that first landing, penetrated deeper than any other troop, and against all odds, surived and liberated France. Lest we never forget.
    I’m going to make these beautiful muffins now in celebration of everything they did for us. Thank you for this post!!

  • Reply November 10, 2012

    Kate Koger

    Absolutely stunning photos and where did you get the tray from that the muffins are sitting in! It is STUNNING!! I am going to be sharing this recipe with my friends as I am sure they will love it too!! 😀

  • Reply November 10, 2012

    The Squishy Monster

    I will have to check Salba out…it sounds super interesting and as always, I adore your pics and recipe!!!

  • Reply November 10, 2012

    Lora @cakeduchess

    Why I haven’t bought Salba before? Now I’m so interested in it and want to try your lovely muffins. The zoomed in shot is really tempting me to take a bite now:)These would be a sweet after school treat or breakfast idea.

  • Reply November 11, 2012


    Love how that looks, the apples and pistachios.

  • Reply November 11, 2012

    Maureen | Orgasmic Chef

    I’ve never heard of Salba. It might not be available here but I’m going to give it a try. My best friend has to be so careful about what she eats so I like having things in the freezer that I can warm up when she comes over for coffee (unannounced!) She’ll love these muffins.

  • You’ve elevated muffins several levels with your (usual) beautiful styling. Love this, Jen. Anything with apples in it is a must-try for me.

  • […] 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! 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! […]

  • Reply November 12, 2012

    Tina Ong (@PhenomenalMama)

    My mother-in-law loves buying those tiny apples for us. We are too polite to tell her we don’t really like them because we find them too tart. But I have to force everyone to eat it because I don’t want to throw them out either. Thanks for saving us! Now I now where to put those apples to good use!

  • I haven’t heard of Salba until now and you made me curious. Will have to see where I can get it from.
    What a great breakfast treat and love the idea of baking the apple inside the muffin. Brilliant Jen

  • Reply November 14, 2012


    So beautiful Jen, those Muffins and apples are ADORABLE!

    I am loving that muffin tin/dish (green one) where did you get that from?

  • Reply November 15, 2012

    Cass @foodmyfriend

    These are really beautiful :) Love how petite they are!

  • Reply November 30, 2013

    Kelly @ Inspired Edibles

    Just discovered your blog… i think i may be in love… ;-). I’ve been pinning like a fool! Happy to discover you.

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