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- 👨🍳 Tips for Making the Best Sourdough Apple Butter Muffins
- What is Apple Butter?
- 🛠 Tools Needed
- 🛒 Ingredients Needed
- 🍎 How to Make Sourdough Apple Butter Muffins
- 2. Preheat Oven and Prepare Muffin Pan
- How to Serve
- How to Store
- ❓Sourdough Apple Butter Muffin FAQs:
- Sourdough Apple Butter Muffins
- Other Recipes You Might Like:
If it’s possible to recreate a taste of autumn in New England in a recipe, these Sourdough Apple Butter Muffins will take you there in one bite.
From apple picking, hay rides, to leaf peeping, fall is probably my favorite season in New England. And with multiple apple orchards surrounding my home, I’m never in short supply of mountain crisp apples.
This easy sourdough apple muffin recipe includes apples in two ways: fresh apples in the batter and apple butter. In addition, I use sourdough discard in the muffins for a slightly tangy flavor akin to buttermilk or yogurt.
Using apple butter and sourdough discard results in an extremely moist apple muffin with a concentration of apple flavor that isn’t too sweet.
Apple pie spices like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and clove complement the apples and perfume your kitchen as they bake.
And a Biscoff cookie and oat streusel top off the muffins for an ambrosial experience.
For such a big payoff, it’s hard to believe how easy these Sourdough Apple Butter Muffins are to make.
👉 For other fall sourdough discard recipes, check out my Sourdough Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins, Sourdough Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread, Sourdough Apple Fritters, and these fried Sourdough Apple Cider Donuts.
👨🍳 Tips for Making the Best Sourdough Apple Butter Muffins
1. Make the Streusel Ahead of Time
- Streusel can be made ahead of time. It stores for 3-4 days in the refrigerator! Above all, it’s easy to make. It’s a great topping to have on hand for other desserts such as coffee cake, fruit crisp, or pie.
- For a tender streusel or crumble, use cold butter and keep the streusel refrigerated. Cold streusel also results in larger crumbs, which I prefer for this recipe. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of a sandier crumble, use melted butter.
2. Don’t Overmix the Muffin Batter
- A tender muffin is made by not overmixing the batter. Overmixing results in gluten development, which is suitable for bread, but not for pastries, cakes, or muffins.
- Therefore, only mix the muffin batter until the wet and dry ingredients are incorporated. It’s okay if a few dry spots of flour remain. Lastly, fold in the apples, which will hydrate the rest of the flour.
3. Bake at a High Temperature
- To get muffins that rise tall and have classic muffin tops, you need to bake the muffins at a high temperature. Baking at a high temperature works because the heat immediately creates steam in the batter, which causes the baking powder and soda to expand quickly in the oven. This quick, initial rise in the batter is also known as oven spring.
- I bake these muffins at 400ºF for 16-18 minutes.
4. Use Unsweetened Apple Butter
- There’s nothing like homemade apple butter. You can find many slow cooker apple butter recipes and oven-baked apple butter recipes online. Many fall farmer’s markets and orchards often sell their apple butter, which I recommend.
- Store-bought apple butter often contains added sugar and spices; the levels can vary wildly. Depending on how sweet and spiced your apple butter is, you may want to cut down the sugar and spices in half for this recipe. At any rate, there are good store-bought apple butter options. For example, this Eden apple butter is my preferred choice.
5. Use Baking Apples
- Red Delicious apples don’t have much flavor, can be mealy, and get mushy when baked. In contrast, use tart, hard-fleshed baking apples for the best muffins or other baked goods. They will still keep some of their texture and tartness when baked.
- For instance, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Braeburn, or Honeycrisp are solid options.
What is Apple Butter?
Despite its name, apple butter does not contain butter. Apple butter is essentially applesauce that has been baked or cooked long enough so that the sugars caramelize.
Applesauce contains more liquid, whereas apple butter is spreadable.
The slow cooking process of the apples produces a rich and decadent spread. Of course, you can make apple butter with only apples, but often some sugar, spices, apple cider, or lemon juice is added.
Apple butter can be spread on toast or bread like a jam or preserve. Furthermore, it’s great to include in apple pie filling and other apple desserts, like these muffins and Sourdough Apple Cider Donuts, to provide a more concentrated apple flavor.
🛠 Tools Needed
Click on the toggles below for more information, recommendations, and possible substitutes.
This sourdough muffin recipe makes 12 standard muffins. A standard muffin pan will work just fine.
I always list ingredients by weight in grams because it is the most accurate way to measure baking ingredients. Use a scale, and your baking will immediately be better!
I love my Escali baking scale and use it every day. The batteries last a long time, the scale is accurate, and it comes in many colors.
Muffin Liners (optional, but helpful)
These Tulip muffin liners help the muffins rise taller and make for a great presentation. You can use regular muffin or cupcake liners, though the muffins might be more stout.
If you don’t have liners, just be sure to oil and flour your muffin pan well!
🛒 Ingredients Needed
Click on the toggles below for more information, recommendations, and possible substitutes.
Lotus Biscoff cookies are Belgian speculoos cookies (biscuits). They have a snickerdoodle/cinnamon flavor and are similar to graham crackers.
I love grinding the cookies in a food processor (or crumble in my hands) to include in crumbles or pie/tart crusts. It’s an excellent twist to a simple streusel and gives a little more flavor and crunch than just using all flour.
Most grocery stores carry the cookies, but if you can’t find them, substitute Biscoff with graham crackers 1:1 in the recipe.
- Light Brown Sugar
- Unsalted Butter
Sourdough Apple Butter Muffins
King Arthur all-purpose flour is what I use to make these muffins. However, any all-purpose flour will work.
Feel free to add some whole wheat or another type of hearty flour if you prefer.
I recommend using unsweetened apple butter that isn’t pre-spiced. For example, this Eden organic apple butter is a great option.
A lot of store-bought apple butter contains added sugars and spices already. So if you use one in this recipe, lower the sugar and spices (likely by half, but it depends on the brand).
Sourdough Starter (unfed or discard)
For this apple butter muffin recipe, you can use an active sourdough starter or unfed sourdough discard. The sourdough is not leavening in this recipe.
I use ground cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves in this recipe to make the spiced muffins. Cinnamon is present in the Biscoff cookies, but I add more in the streusel and batter for a nice apple cinnamon flavor.
If you don’t have one of the other spices, skip it. Moreover, apple pie spice is a suitable substitute.
As mentioned in the tips section, use tart, hard-fleshed baking apples in this recipe. Granny Smith, Braeburn, Pink Lady, and Honeycrisp are good easily found options.
- Light Brown Sugar
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Sea Salt
- Melted Unsalted Butter
- 2 Eggs
🍎 How to Make Sourdough Apple Butter Muffins
Follow this visual and detailed guide to help you make the best Sourdough Apple Muffins.
1. Make Biscoff Streusel
- Use a food processor or hands to crumble 12 Biscoff cookies (93 grams) until they’re a fine, sandy texture.
- Mix the crumbled cookies in a medium bowl with ½ cup of rolled oats (45 grams), ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, and ¼ cup (50 grams) of light brown sugar.
- Cut 6 TBS (85 grams) of cold unsalted butter into small cubes.
- Toss the butter cubes in the bowl and use your hands to squeeze the streusel together until small clumps form. The streusel will still be dry, but no butter or flour should be visible.
- Lastly, cover the bowl with a lid and store the streusel in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Note: If not using Biscoff cookies, use an equal amount of graham crackers.
2. Preheat Oven and Prepare Muffin Pan
Preheat the oven to 400ºF (204ºC).
Prepare a standard 12-cup muffin pan by lining it with muffin cup liners. You can use any type of muffin liner, but I get the best results with these tulip liners– the muffins rise taller!
Alternatively, lightly grease your muffin pan with butter or oil. Then, evenly sprinkle a few pinches of flour into the pan, shake, and dump any excess flour.
3. Mix Dry Ingredients
In a large bowl, mix the following dry ingredients:
- 180 grams of all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom
- ⅛ teaspoon of ground cloves
Note: If using apple butter that is already spiced, lower the spices by half.
4. Mix Wet Ingredients
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the following ingredients:
- ¾ cup (200 grams) of apple butter
- ¾ cup (150 grams) of sourdough starter (active or sourdough discard)
- ½ cup (100 grams) grams of light brown sugar*
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla extract
Note: If using apple butter that is already sweetened, you may want to cut the brown sugar in half depending on how sweet the apple butter is.
5. Dice Apples and Mix Muffin Batter
Dice one large apple or two small apples (200 grams) and set aside. You will fold the apples in last.
Pour all of the wet ingredients into the large bowl of dry ingredients.
Use a spatula or whisk to mix the muffin batter until you only see a few spots of flour remaining. Don’t overmix.
Use a spatula to gently fold in the diced apples until evenly distributed in the batter. This should only take a few folds, and it will hydrate the remaining flour.
Use a spoon or a ¼ measuring cup to distribute the muffin batter into the prepared pans evenly. As you’re scooping, ensure a few diced apples go into each muffin cup.
Finally, remove the cold streusel from the refrigerator and evenly sprinkle it on the muffins. It will look like a lot of streusel crumble, but the surface area of the muffin tops will increase as they bake.
Bake the muffins at 400ºF (204ºC) for 16-20 minutes until the tops are light brown and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
If you’re using the tulip liners I recommend, the muffins will rise taller but will take longer to bake (20 minutes for me).
Cool the muffins completely on a wire rack.
How to Serve
These sourdough apple muffins are delicious on their own as a snack or served with a fall breakfast. They’re great gifts, and easy and quick breakfast treats for a crowd!
If you really want to jazz them up, split the muffins in half and toast them face-side down in a frying pan with a slab of butter. I couldn’t recommend it enough.
Furthermore, you can serve the muffins with more apple butter as a spread.
How to Store
These apple butter muffins stay moist for days! In addition, the apple butter and sourdough discard help preserve them longer than traditional muffins.
Keep the muffins in a zip-lock bag or airtight container with a paper towel for up to 3-4 days. Paper towels help prevent sogginess.
I don’t recommend refrigerating muffins as the texture will change, and they dry out quicker.
For more extended storage, freeze the apple butter muffins in a single layer for up to a few months. Then, defrost the muffins overnight at room temperature or warm them in a microwave or conventional oven.
❓Sourdough Apple Butter Muffin FAQs:
How many muffins does this recipe make?
This recipe makes 12 standard muffins. If you only have an extra-large muffin pan, you can bake 6 extra-large muffins. Consequently, the muffins will take longer to bake.
Can I make vegan apple butter muffins?
Yes! Substitute the melted butter with melted coconut oil. Additionally, substitute the two eggs with flax eggs or applesauce.
For the streusel, use vegan butter or skip the streusel entirely and top the muffins with cinnamon sugar. Additionally, Biscoff cookies are vegan-friendly.
What kind of apple is best for muffins?
Use tart, hard-fleshed apples in baking recipes for the best results. For example, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Pink Lady, and Honeycrisp are all solid options.
Why are my muffins dry?
Muffins can get dry from overbaking or if you overmix the batter. Therefore, bake the muffins for their recommended time until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Furthermore, only mix the muffin batter until it comes together.
Sourdough Apple Butter Muffins
Sourdough Apple Butter Muffins:
- 1 ½ cups All-purpose flour, 180 grams
- ½ tsp Sea Salt
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- ¼ tsp Ground Ginger
- ¼ tsp Ground Cardamom, optional
- ⅛ tsp Ground Cloves
- ¾ cup Sourdough Starter, 150 grams, active or discard
- ¾ cup Unsweetened Apple Butter, 200 grams. If already sweetened and spiced, lower the sugar and spice
- ½ cup Light Brown Sugar, 100 grams
- 1 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 Eggs
- 8 TBSP Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled
- 1 large Apple, 200 grams, or two small apples. Use a tart baking apple like Granny Smith.
- Make Biscoff Streusel:Use a food processor or hands to crumble the Biscoff cookies into a sandy texture. Mix the cookies, oats, cinnamon, and light brown sugar in a small bowl.Cut the butter into small cubes and toss into the bowl. Squeeze the streusel together until small clumps form. Cover the bowl and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.12 Biscoff Cookies, ½ cup Rolled Oats, ¼ cup Light Brown Sugar, ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon, 6 TBSP Unsalted Butter
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF (204ºC).Prepare the muffin pan using muffin/cupcake liners (the Tulip liners I recommend will help the muffins rise taller!). Alternatively, grease and flour the muffin pan.
- Mix Dry Ingredients:In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.1 ½ cups All-purpose flour, ½ tsp Sea Salt, 1 tsp Baking Powder, 1 tsp Baking Soda, 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon, ¼ tsp Ground Ginger, ¼ tsp Ground Cardamom, ⅛ tsp Ground Cloves
- Mix Wet Ingredients:In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sourdough starter, apple butter, light brown sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, and melted butter.¾ cup Sourdough Starter, ¾ cup Unsweetened Apple Butter, ½ cup Light Brown Sugar, 1 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract, 2 Eggs, 8 TBSP Unsalted Butter
- Dice Apples and Mix Muffin Batter:Dice the apple(s) and set aside.Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix the muffin batter until you only see a few spots of flour remaining. Don't overmix.Use a spatula to gently fold in the diced apples.1 large Apple
- Bake:Distribute the muffin batter evenly in the muffin cups (a little more than ¼ cup in each muffin cup). Remove the cold streusel from the refrigerator and sprinkle it on top of the muffins.Bake the muffins at 400ºF (204ºC) for 16-20 minutes until the tops are lightly brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.Cool completely on a wire rack.