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Apple Almond Butter Muffins & Apple Sticky Bun Bread Pudding

Posted Oct 18 2009 10:06pm

I’m starting to feel seasonally confused.  First June came, but summer didn’t and the month was filled with rainstorms and blustery days.  Now it’s mid-October and our plans to visit a local Renissance festival were literally washed out by snow flurries and unseasonably low temperatures.  Instead the almost wintery temperatures called for a weekend of baking.

Muffins Unsurprisingly, the two recipes to come out of my kitchen focused on apples.  The first was a batch of muffins inspired by one of my favorite pairings – almond butter & apples.  The inspiration was actually a Cooking Light recipe for Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins.  However, I’ve always been the odd girl who never liked peanut butter & jelly (or Oreos for that matter either) so the idea of pairing almond butter and apples seemed much more appealing.

These muffins were tremendously satisfying.  The mix of whole wheat and all purpose flour ensured they had a tender crumb and yet, a hearty punch.  I especially liked the nice crisp top they yielded.  But my favorite part was the combination of the almond butter and apple.  The almond butter lent a pleasant nuttiness to the muffins while the apples provided juicy, tart pops of soft fruit.  It’s worth noting that on the spectrum of muffins and quick breads these are not very sweet, but the flavor profile more than makes up for the lack of sugary pop.  I’m looking forward to eating these all week as a quick breakfast, especially with a mug of hot tea or a pumpkin spice latte from Flat Black, which runs our office’s complimentary in-house coffee bar.  I’m also thinking of making them again and including some slivered almonds for crunch.

My second recipe was for one of my favorite cold weather treats: bread pudding.  I absolutely love just about any variety and order it reliably when I find it on a restaurant menu.  This time I prepared an Apple Sticky Bun Bread Pudding.  In place of bread I used four sticky buns that I froze after making my Caramel Apple Sticky Buns.  The brioche dough of the buns already makes for a great bread pudding base and the goo elevated the dish by creating lovely pockets of caramel within the pudding.  I also love that it was able to transform one recipe into an entirely different dessert.  Even better, a layer of apples sauteed in butter, sugar, and cinnamon hides between two layers of bread bringing an additional touch of fall.  I brought it to a dinner at my boyfriend’s parents’ house and it went quickly.  Who knew something inherently frugal could be such a crowd pleaser?  Even if you don’t have leftover sticky buns on hand this is a tremendously forgiving recipe so you could easily substitute regular bread (Brioche, Challah, or cinnamon raisin bread would be delicious).  You could even swap out the apples for pears or peaches.

Apple Almond Butter Muffins
Yields 1 dozen muffins

-1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
-3/4 cup whole wheat flour (about 3 1/2 ounces)
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
-1 tablespoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
-1/3 cup smooth almond butter
-1 egg
-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 medium apple, peeled, cored and diced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, sugars, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through vanilla); add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Gently fold in diced apples.

Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray

Apple Sticky Bun Bread Pudding
Serves 6

-Cooking spray
-5 cups cubed sticky buns
-1 tablespoon butter
-2 medium apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
-8 tablespoons sugar
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-3/4 cup half and half
-1 1/4 cups low-fat (1%) milk
-2 large eggs
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-Caramel sauce (optional for serving)
-Vanilla ice cream (optional for serving)

Lightly butter a 1-quart souffle dish (or alternately a 9-inch pie plate). Arrange half of sticky bun cubes in single layer in prepared dish. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add apples; sauté 5 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; sauté until apples are golden, about 6 minutes. Arrange apples atop bread in dish. Top with remaining bread squares in single layer.

Bring milk to simmer in small saucepan. Whisk eggs and remaining 6 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot milk, then vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread and apple mixture. Let stand until milk mixture is almost absorbed, occasionally pressing down on bread with spatula to submerge, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place souffle dish or pie pan in a roasting pan. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of pie dish. Bake bread pudding until top is golden and custard is set, about 40-55 minutes. Remove from water. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serve with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream if desired.

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