We have had new dietary challenges at our house recently. We have discovered some new allergies for our daughter and it has required some new changes in the foods she eats. When she's not feeling her best, one of her favorite comfort foods is applesauce with a touch of cinnamon.
I was trying to lift her spirits the other day and I wanted to make her something that wouldn't bother her tummy. I located a delicious recipe for applesauce spice muffins from Epicurious.com that had the potential to do it. I tweaked the recipe a little and made it gluten free. If you would like to make your own applesauce you could try one from ExPat Chef at the blog, the Eat Local Challenge.
As a family, we are not alone in our love of apples. Apples were commonly used at least as far back as classical times with Apicius and were in cookbooks in medieval times in recipes for drinks, rissoles, apple sauce and fritters. (Oxford Companion to Food, Davidson, 1999, pg. 30-31)
The only apple native to America is the crab apple, a small and sour little fruit. When the colonists came to American they brought the things they were familiar with such as their apple seeds. The first orchards didn't bear much fruit due to the lack of honey bees, but that was soon remedied by the colonists in 1622 when the first shipment arrived in the Colony of Virginia. Now there are 10,000 different varieties of apples grown in the world with 7,000 of them grown in the United States.
Several years ago for a science project, my children collected as many apple varieties as they could find. Next they noted the variety, tasted them, collected and counted seeds, and sprouted the seeds. Last they charted their results and showed off their apple seedlings. We had a blast searching out apple varieties and tasting them all. Since then we've made an effort to try any apple that we don't recognize and my daughter has had a real soft spot for anything made from apples.
After the muffins came out of the oven and cooled, my family lined up to try out the muffins. Richly flavored with spices and apples with a sweet crispy top, the muffins were intensely satisfying. My crew decided that these muffins needed to be regulars at our house. My daughter thought they were a wonderful way to end her day after having felt so unwell.
½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup arrowroot starch
¼ cup sweet rice flour
¼ cup chestnut flour
2 tsp psyllium (plantago) seed meal
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp sea salt
2 large eggs, beaten
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 Tb Turbinado sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, melted
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup chopped pecans
2 Tb cane sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
2. Pour the flours, seed meal, baking soda, baking powder, spices and sea salt into a medium bowl. Stir the dry ingredients together.
3. In a large bowl, dump in the eggs and sugar. Stir together and then pour in the melted butter, a small amount at a time. Blend until the mixture is creamy. Plop in the apple sauce and stir again.
4. Slowly combine the dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients until the flour mixture is mostly combined. Dump the nuts into the mixture and blend.
6. Pour the ingredients of the topping into a small bowl and stir together. Sprinkle the topping over the top of the muffins.
7. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.