Sometimes, all you want (especially on a cool, fall morning as you are pouring your first cup of coffee) is a tender apple muffin that screams “autumn has arrived”!!
I know that pumpkin and apple are both flavours that tell me I can put away my bikini (who’s kidding who…I haven’t owned a bikini in years!) and grab those thick sweaters (which hide the reason I haven’t owned a bikini in years ;)).
Not sure about you folks but I’ve had my fair share of apple cake in my life and I’m always looking for a recipe that gives you all the right flavour combos (like, who doesn’t think apple and cinnamon are a match made in heaven?). But, also, I love me a sweet muffin and am always looking for a way to get that sweetness without adding even more sugar than the recipe calls for.
So, tadaaaaaahhhhh…welcome Mr. Prune!
Waitttt!!!! Don’t click away…DO NOT CLICK AWAY!!
Prunes are not what you remember your mothers shoving down your throat when you were constipated (sorry…TMI?). They, like dates, give an extra layer of sweetness to desserts and somehow elevate the flavour profile so much better than just adding regular sugar.
Also, for you science geeks out there (hello, I’m with you guys here!!), if you didn’t know, regular sugar still has it’s place.
Sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it has a tendency to attract and hold onto water molecules. This characteristic of sugar helps make and keep baked goods moist.
Sugar interferes with the coagulation of proteins. Adding more sugar to a cake recipe causes the proteins in the flour and eggs to form weaker bonds, creating a more tender, softer crumb. But more is not always better.
So, instead of turning your nose up to prunes, give this a shot and you’ll see what I’m talking about!
I made mine in my autumn mini muffin tins but you can go ahead and make them in regular mini muffin tins or even regular muffin tins (it should make about 24 regular sized ones).
Aren’t they purty??
Let’s do this people!! Isn’t this why we all go apple picking with the kids? Okay, I know it’s for the warm apple cider and the hay ride, but now you have another reason to use up those beauties!!
The Softest Apple Spice Mini Muffins
- 30 pitted prunes cut into small pieces
- 1/3 cup brandy
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 3 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cups plain yogurt (or buttermilk)
- 2 large apples, peeled, cored and diced (about 3 cups)
- In a medium sized saucepan, place the prunes, brandy and enough water to cover by 1/2 inch and simmer over medium heat until tender (it depends on how fresh your prunes are...it should take no longer than 20 minutes). Once they're tender, drain the cooking liquid and set both stewed prunes and cooking liquid aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and spray your mini muffin tins with cooking spray (I have a large one that holds 48 but if you have one that has 12 holes, you will have to bake them in batches - or feel free to make regular muffins).
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together butter and both sugars until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition.
- In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices (plus salt) together until well combined. Add 1/2 the flour mixture to the butter mixture and 1/3 of the yogurt and mix; add the last half of the flour mixture and the second 1/3 of the yogurt and mix; add the last of the yogurt and the prune cooking liquid and mix well. Add the prunes and apples and stir well to combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared mini muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges are brown (if you have more than one pan, it may take a bit longer...they should spring back when touched).
- Invert muffins onto wire racks to cool. Serve with tea or coffee and, if desired, sprinkle with icing sugar (they also freeze well).