Baking with Applesauce Part 1

Remember those little applesauce cups you ate as a kid? Heck, I’m young, maybe you fed (feed) them to your kids. Well I bet you didn’t know how conducive they are to baking. Mmmhmm, applesauce in baked goods. Plus they are conveniently packaged in 1/2 cup portions, a perfect amount for most recipes. Admittedly not the most environmentally friendly concept out there (does it help that I bought the organic ones?) but if I open an entire jar of applesauce, it’s probably going to grow fur before I use it up. And then that would be wasteful. You can never win…

That’s not the point though. Regardless of what packaging medium you choose, applesauce is probably my favorite baking ingredient. It can replace eggs (1 egg = about 1/4 cup applesauce). Minus the leavening power of course. It can even replace oil and butter (aka fat). You have to be careful with your ratios, no doubt. I have definitely taken it to the extreme but you learn pretty quickly that “vegan, gluten-free, fat-free, dairy-free, item of your choice” frankly just tastes like crap. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a major advocate for healthy food but at the end of the day, a little oil isn’t going to hurt you. In fact, for the bran muffin recipe I’m sharing, I replaced the original 1 cup of buttermilk with 1/2 cup each applesauce and water. I kept the oil the same because at 1/3 cup, the amount really wasn’t significant in the first place.

Applesauce bran muffins

With baking, you have to remember that each and every ingredient has a function. There is a science behind the outcome of your cookies, cakes, muffins, tarts, you name it. Get rid of eggs? Sure, no problem. Add some applesauce and extra baking powder to compensate. Get rid of eggs and flour, thus making a vegan and gluten-free product? You are going to start encountering some problems. I’m not saying it’s impossible but it’s a feat, that’s for sure. Because guess what’s gives Product(x) it’s structure? Hmm, protein. Where does protein come from? Eggs. And flour (gluten). Goodbye eggs and flour, goodbye protein, goodbye structure. Hello mush! So basically from my experience, what I am trying to tell you is that it’s great to experiment. That’s what cooking is all about. But in doing so, you can only alter so many variables. When you change 14 different things from the original recipe (I’m definitely guilty of doing this) and something goes wrong, how are you ever going to figure out the culprit? You just get frustrated and throw together another random recipe which fails (most likely, hey it could magically work out). Then you’re back to square 1. So experiment all you want, just be smart about it. Otherwise you just end up hating your life and going to sulk in a corner because you “suck at cooking, are a failure at life and should just give up”.

Wow, I went from applesauce to that? So then, how about some bran muffins?

Applesauce bran muffins

Applesauce Raspberry Bran Muffins

adapted from AllRecipes

– 1 1/2 cups bran
– 1/2 cup water
– 1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
– 1/3 cup oil
– 1 egg
– 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (or fruit of your choice)
– 2/3 cup white sugar
– 1 cup flour
– 1 tsp. baking powder
– 1 tsp. baking soda
– 1/2 tsp. salt
– cinnamon, to taste

If there is one thing that I’ve learned in life, it’s that you have to soak your bran, no questions asked. Soak your bran, you ask? Yep, soak your bran. In this case you have 1 of 2 choices. You can just mix the bran, water and applesauce together in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Honestly, the bran absorbs all of the liquid and it makes a world of difference in the moisture of the final product. Option 2, you can be especially efficient and throw the oil and egg in there too. Why not? One less step to do later. Actually I even included the frozen raspberries. Although I will warn you, their color bleeds into the batter turning it basically magenta (quite pretty I might add). But if that doesn’t float your boat, just hold off on the raspberries until later.
Applesauce bran muffins
When the bran is almost done soaking, preheat your oven to 350 F. Prepare some muffin tins with paper muffin cups (I hate baking muffins without them yet I still don’t have any…why???) or grease the tins thoroughly. No matter how thoroughly you do this though, the muffins are always going to stick. Always. And it sucks. The muffin top comes out of the pan alright. But the bottom always gets left behind. So, moral of the story, make sure you have paper muffin cups! Do what I say and not what I do! Way to lead by example right?
Applesauce bran muffins
Ok, now it’s time to mix together the dry ingredients. That’s why I love the muffin method. Mix the wet separately, mix the dry separately, combine, bake. Simple as that. Combine the flour, baking powder and soda, salt and a hint of cinnamon. If you want to add the raspberries (or other fruit) you can do so here (if you didn’t mix it in with the bran). This way it gets coated in the flour which helps to retain it’s color.
Applesauce bran muffins
Portion into the muffin tins (it makes about a dozen). I opted to top mine with some oats because, well, I like oats. Proceed to bake at 350 F for about 25 minutes. Or until a toothpick comes out clean and they spring back when pressed lightly. Don’t jab your entire finger into the muffin for goodness sake! You would think that’s a given but I’ve seen it done before.
Cool and enjoy. I would/could/should probably eat bran muffins for breakfast everyday for the rest of my life. Love, love, love! Blueberry muffins? Meh. Banana muffins? Meh. Chocolate chip muffins? Meh. That’s a lie. But I would actually being enjoying the chocolate chips more than the muffin itself. Bran muffins however? 4 thumbs up from Mallory (big toes can count). Throw some gold stars in there too and you are set!
Applesauce bran muffins
PS: You see that half eaten muffin? Well due to the lack of muffin cups, I ripped it in half trying to remove it from the pan. And so I had to eat it. Not that I wouldn’t have eaten one anyways but I’m telling you, these things do happen. I don’t just make things up for fun, I’m here to help you. Then you can avoid making the same stupid little mistakes that I make and it’s all good. Unless you purposely want to make “faulty” products just so you have an excuse to eat them. In which case, go right ahead, be my guest. I admire your strategy, very clever.

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