It's still September and we've already had snow. It didn't stick around, except higher in the mountains, but seriously guys, how crazy is that?! The good news: this chilly weather gets me baking, so you'll be seeing some baked breads over the next few months. And first up are these best-ever Apple Cheddar Muffins. Because, really, what says autumn better than apples? Nothing. That's what.
The secret in getting the soft fluffy texture in these truly amazing muffins was soaking oats in milk for 30 minutes, and then adding them to the batter at the end. I got this fabulous idea from the Sally's Baking Addiction blog with her Blueberry Muffins. She soaked hers for 20 minutes, but I went longer since I'm baking in a very dry, high altitude environment.
High Altitude Muffin Baking Tips
For those of you baking at high altitude, and there's more of us than you might think, here are some great tips for getting a softer, moister texture. If you're baking at sea level, and never bake at high altitudes, even on vacation, you can skip this part.
- When converting sea level recipes, leave the flour amounts as is.
- Increase the moisture. For example, Sally's blueberry muffin recipe calls for 1 egg at sea level, but for my apple cheddar muffins, I added an additional egg white. I also typically add either 1 additional tablespoon of liquids for every cup called for, such as milk, or add 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt. However, in this recipe, I did not increase the liquid because the apples give off a bit of moisture, and the cheese adds some creaminess.
- Reduce chemical leaveners by 20-25%.
- Pre-soak the oats in milk. This didn't give me the rise that the original recipe promised – and my baking powder and baking soda were purchased only the previous day – but it did give the muffins an incredible soft, airy texture I've never achieved any other way, while maintaining excellent moisture. This is my new go-to method for making muffins. I'm going to continue to experiment to see if I can achieve the same rise Sally did in her recipe, and let you know! For now, however, suffice to say these may be the best muffins I've ever made.
- Use honey to maintain the moisture in the muffin, since it much more easily absorbs moisture from the air.
What Makes These Apple Cheddar Muffins so Healthy?
- For same number of muffins, this recipe uses much less sugar than most other apple muffin recipes I found, and uses only honey as the sweetener. A number of other recipes I looked at had at much as TWICE as much sugar for a dozen muffins.
- All of the other recipes also used quite a bit more processed flour. The oats, a much healthier alternative, make up the difference.
- Oats are among the healthiest grains – they're gluten-free and considered one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.
- This recipe leaves the peels on the apples to maximize their health benefits. They're extremely rich in antioxidants, flavanoids, and dietary fiber.
Healthy Apple Cheddar Muffins
Apple Cheddar Muffins
- 1 cup milk, either whole or 2%
- 1 cup rolled oats, not instant oats
- 1 1/4 cups (5.5 ounces or 156 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg white
- 1 1/4 cups chopped apple, unpeeled!
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Oat Topping (optional)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons rolled oats
- 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
- Combine milk and oats. Set aside for 30 minutes so the oats puff
up and soak up some moisture. This may only need 20 minutes at sea level, but
it could take longer if your oats were older and super-dry.
- Preheat oven to 425°F and spray a 12-count muffin pan with
nonstick spray or use cupcake paper liners. Mix together the Muffin Topping, if
using, and set aside.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt
together in a medium bowl until well-combined. It’s important to completely
disperse the baking soda and powder through the flour.
- Whisk together the melted butter, honey, lemon juice, egg, and egg
white in a large bowl until combined. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet
ingredients, using a spatula. Be careful not to over-stir, but only long enough
to completely integrate the dry ingredients. Stir the soaked oats, including the
milk, into the batter. Gently fold the apples and cheddar into the batter just
- Spoon the batter into liners, filling them all the way to the
top. Top with the Muffin Topping, if using.
- Bake for 7 minutes at 425˚F, and reduce the oven temperature
to 350°F without removing the muffins. Bake for an additional 18 minutes
or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Looking for more ideas with apples? Check out these Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins with Pumpkin Seed Streusel or Spiced Quinoa and Apple Crumbles.